Augustine: Sinner and Saint : A New Biography
Augustine, a North African bishop, towers over the landscapes of western cultures from over 1500 years ago. He invented original sin almost single-handedly. He is responsible for many of the ways in which we think about gods, religions, politics and psychology. He wrote beautifully (and left behind 5 million words of writings). He is the first saint to have had a website. James O'Donnell has written a magnificent new biography which presents Augustine outside his own 'spin', that of his autobiographical Confessions, a best-seller since it was written. He tells the story from the vantage point of Hippo, the city in what is now Algeria, where Augustine spent almost 40 years as priest and bishop. By telling the story that way, O'Donnell is able to escape from the Confessions: the post-Confessions years are the ones in which Augustine (354-430) really made his name. The story is extraordinarily rich in vivid primary material about the crises and doings of his time, the late Roman Empire. Rich men converting to Christianity to get ahead, priests covering up their sexual and financial peccadilloes, gangs of desperadoes invading churches or lying in ambush on country roads, generals playing coldly calculated games of geopolitics - these are the figures who stand out in Augustine's world against a background of a battle to the death over the future of Christianity. This is one of the most remarkable biographies to be written about any figure from the ancient world.
- Hardback | 416 pages
- 164 x 241 x 36mm | 755g
- 28 Apr 2005
- Profile Books Ltd
- London, United Kingdom
About James J. O'Donnell
James J. O'Donnell is Professor of Classics and Provost of Georgetown University in Washington, DC. He is one of the world's experts on Augustine and among much else editor of the definitive Oxford Latin edition of the Confessions.
A critical biography which will be the starting point for a complete re-evaluation of Augustine's career and writings ...This is a swashbuckling, stimulating, immensely readable portrait of a great but flawed genius. Both its iconoclasm and its academic credentials will mean this is the new 'must read' book for the Augustine industry ... Absorbing and brilliant. * Herald * A fascinating biography and all praise should go to the author for bringing the life and times of such a person alive. * Good Book Guide * Brilliant ... penetrating study of the man who in many respects refounded western Christianity in his own image ... O'Donnell's style is clear and fluent, and his translations are extraordinarily vivid. -- Murrough O'Brien * Independent on Sunday * This absorbing new biography makes sense of a fascinating life and a complex, often confused posterity. -- Michael Kerrigan * The Scotsman *