Augustine of Hippo
by Peter Brown
St Augustine’s Confessions is one of our most recommended books on Five Books. In this biography, one of the great historians of the 20th century, Peter Brown, looks at the life of the extraordinary man credited with creating the concept of ‘original sin.’
Recommendations from our site
“it’s very rare that you work in an academic field and there is a secondary work that is just indisputably superior to everything else. An agent once said to me that Brown’s book is known in her field as a “category killer”. No one else dared to write a biography of Augustine, really until the late 1990s. So, for 30 years—for basically a full generation—that was the work on Augustine.” Read more...
Catherine Conybeare, Classicist
“I would say that this is the outstanding biography of the 20th century…Augustine is the giant thinker and writer of the Latin Christian world. He was born in 354 to a simple humble background in a little town called Thagaste in North Africa. He was a man of bewildering literary intelligence and superb literary ability. In conventional caricature, he is feared as a figure of excessive authoritarianism, who held dark views of human nature, who invented the idea of original sin. But when you read his writing, he is a figure of infinite caution on many topics and has a much more subtle mind than people give him credit for. Both philosophically and as a reader of the Bible, he is a challenge to anyone alive now.” Read more...
The best books on Religious and Social History in the Ancient World
Robin Lane Fox, Classicist
“Brown relates a life story that lets us understand Augustine, sympathise with him and even to like and to respect him. That’s great writing.” Read more...
Paula Fredriksen, Theologians & Historians of Religion