Revelation and Love: An Introduction to Augustine's Theology of

History in de Civitate Dei


Dr. Stephen T. Chan

Seattle University

(Written 1987, Revised 1997)


         Introduction                                                                  1

I.        Historical Background                                                      2

II.       The Scheme of de Civitate Dei                                             2

III.     The Scope of de Civitate Dei: Revelation and Historia                 3

   A.    Origin of de Civitate Dei                                                    3

   B.    Prophecy and Fulfillment                                                  3

   C.    Anti-Chiliasm                                                                4

IV.      The Shape of de Civitate Dei: Cursus and Procursus                   5

   A.    Pagan Cyclism                                                               5

   B.    Christian Progressivism                                                     6

V.       The Definition of de Civitate Dei: Love                                  6

   A.    The Doctrine of Original Sin                                               7

   B.    The Doctrine of Grace                                                      7

VI.      Conclusion                                                                    8

VII.     A Christian Theology of History for Today                             9





                  History is never a word easy to define. It is ambiguous both in its meaning and its subject matter. Broadly speaking, history can be divided into facts and meaning. The former belongs to the subject of historical studies and the later belongs to the realm of philosophy of history. Scholars differ in their wording of the definition of history, but this twofold understanding can be held at large.1 The distinction between historical events and meaning shows the influence of the post-Kantian philosophy.2 This modern view of history is certainly remote to the ancient people, especially the early church fathers. In the biblical tradition, history is never the dead past. It is the arena where God acts and reveals himself. Hence to the Jews and Christians, history is primarily a history of salvation. This is in direct opposition to the Greek cyclical conception of history and it is only through the effort of Augustine that the synthesis of Christian faith and history is achieved. This research paper aims to introduce Augustine's theology of history with reference to his idea of revelation and love, which are derived from the doctrine of Scripture and human. Most of the important portion of de Civitate Dei is quoted and the argument mainly proceeds from the text itself. I wish to give a brief exposition to the text first and then introduce Augustine's theology of history in the context of the creative tensions of his time. Anyone who endeavors to explore de Civitate Dei will be sure to benefit from one of the greatest minds of mankind. But we can never presumptuously claim to exhaust the wisdom loaded in the opus magnum. This essay humbly represents the first record of my encounter with the theological giant of the western church.




I. Historical Background


         The date August 24, 410 may not appears to have any particular significance to many historians. On that date the eternal city, Rome, symbol of Pax Romana, fell to King Alaric with his Visigoth troops. But since the fighters only plundered the city for three days and little external damage was made modern historians tend to belittle the event.3 But the conquest of Rome by barbarians shook the Graeco-Roman world to its very foundation. The renowned words of Jerome clearly reflected the feeling of that time: "The city which has taken the whole world is itself taken".4 Augustine was launched by the whole critical situation to begin his great enterprise, De Civitate Dei, which becomes a milestone in the history of thoughts and hence Augustine is called the first tinker to undertake a fully developed interpretation of history.


II.      The Scheme of De Civitate Dei  


Augustine began to write De Civitate Dei in about 412 and finished the treatise in 426, which amounts to a total of fifteen years. The original title of the treatise, De Civitate Dei contra paganos, clearly demonstrates its critical and apologetic purpose.5 He concluded its nature and objectives in Retractation after the work was completed.6 The author himself suggested an outline of the twenty-two books: The first five books aim to "refute the argument that human prosperity depends upon the worship of those numerous gods".7 The next five books are "directed against those who admit that mortal men have

never been and never will be free from such evils".8 The second part of De Civitate Dei which is made up of twelve books is devoted to meet "the criticism that we have refuted other people's position but have not declared our own".9 The content of the twelve books is specifically delineated:

Preface         "Of the twelve books which make up the latter part the first four contain an account of the two cities, the city of God and the city of this world. The second four books describe their growth or progress; the third and last four are concerned with their proper ends. And so the whole twenty-two books, though treating of both cities, take their title from the better of the two cities and are therefore called De Civitate Dei."10

                  Therefore we can summarize the content of De Civitate Dei into the following scheme:11

Book I-V       Against idolatry for the present life: The prosperity of Rome is absolutely independent of the pagan idolatry and hence its downfall is not related to the prohibition of the pagan cults by the Christian emperor.

Book VI-X     Against idolatry for the future life: The refutation of the pagan belief that we cannot benefit from the worship of gods in this life but it is advantageous for the life to come.

Book XI-XIV The origin of the two cities.

Book XV-XVIII        The growth of the two cities.

Book XIX-XXII       The consummation of the two cities.

III.      The Scope of De Civitate Dei: Revelation and Historia


A. Origin of De Civitate Dei


The concept of De Civitate Dei is probably derived from Tyconius, the most original Donatist writer of the fourth century.12 And the title is borrowed from Psalms:


"We five the name of the city of God unto that society whereof that scripture bears witness, which has gained the most exalted authority and pre-eminence over all other works whatsoever, by the disposing of the divine providence, not the chance decisions of men's judgments. For there it is said: "Glorious things are spoken of thee, thou city of God."[CD 11:1]13


Thus the civitates are two societies or communities. They arise from two origins: Cain and Abel. The whole humanity and its history are symbolized in two single persons.


"Cain therefore was the first begotten of those two that were mankind's parents, and he belongs to the city of man; Abel was the later, and be belongs to the city of God." [CD 15:1]


This understanding of human origin and development in terms of two single persons serve to give a sense of unity of mankind which is fundamental to any theories of history. The two cities confuse together, intermix and are not separable until the end.14 The heavenly city exists in heaven but it has citizens on earth. They are the pilgrims in this world and hence De Civitate Dei is also a civitas peregrinans:


"Therefore it is recorded of Cain that he built a city, but Abel was a pilgrim, and built none. For the city of the saints is above, though it have citizens here upon earth, wherein it lives as a pilgrim until the time of the kingdom come; and then it gathers all the citizens together in the resurrection of the body, and gives them a kingdom to reign in with their King for ever and ever."[CD 15:1]


The two cities are therefore "eschatological realities".15 They are not discernible in this world but can only be separated in the last judgment. The distinction between the two city lies in the divine judgment and the meaning of human history is totally determined by that revelation.


B. Prophecy and Fulfillment


         To Augustine, the concept of revelation comes mainly from the Scriptures and the understanding of Scriptures is definitive to the understanding of history. The word "history" (historia) is used by Augustine to denote the works of history by ordinary writers in general.16 It is a basic and important department of classical education.17 Augustine holds that Scriptures is historia but it is more than historia. The unique distinction of Scriptures lies in its canonicity and this in turn is safeguarded by the concept of inspiration. In discussing the problem of some extra-canonical writings that are cited by the Old Testament historical books, Augustine distinguished the two in terms of the inspiration:


"I know not the reason of this; only I think that those prophets whom it pleased the Holy

Spirit to inspire, wrote some things historically as men, and other things prophetically as from the mouth of God, and that these works were really distinct; some being held their own, as they were men, and some the lord's, speaking out of their bosom, so that the first might belong to the bettering of knowledge, and the latter to the confirming of religion, to which the canon only has respect."[CD 18:38]


The authenticity of the Scriptures rests on its writer as prophets. The prophets defend the Scriptures in two aspects: they are more ancient and their prophecy is fulfilled. The prophets outrank the Greek philosophers in terms of time. Socrates and Plato are all later than Moses is 18. This kind of apologetics is commonly found among the early fathers. Secondly, the biblical writers outrank the pagan historians in terms of the idea of prophecy and fulfillment. Augustine contrasts the sacred history and the secular history as follows:


"Whom shall we believe in this so soon as him that foretold what now we see accordingly effected? The disagreement of historians gives us leave to lean to such as do accord with our divine writings. The citizens of Babylon, indeed, being diffused all over the earth, when they read two authors of like (and acceptable) authority, differing in relating matters of a bygone age, know not which to believe. But we have a divine history to sustain us, and we know that whatsoever secular author he be, famous or obscure, if he contradict that, he goes far astray from truth; but his words true or false, they are of no value to the attainment of true felicity. " (CD 18:40)


The concept of prophecy and fulfillment is crucial for the understanding of Augustine's idea of history. R.A. Markus, a distinguished British Augustinian scholar, rightly stated that " in the idiom of the City of God, within the Scriptures, 'history' and 'prophecy' are almost synonymous" 19 Sacred history is the fulfilling prophecy of the salvation of God. It is the redemption of the human race through the work of Jesus Christ. Therefore Christians must understand history through the perspective of divine providence. It is only by this "prophetic" or "scriptural " perspective, that Christians possess a different understanding of history, to wit, the "salvation history" (Heilsgeschichte)20.


C. Anti-Chiliasm


         The distinction of sacred and secular history in Augustine's thought has a far-reaching implication. This is evident from his six partite periodization 21, or threepartite periodization of sacred history 22.  Augustine imposed this scriptural notion of historical scheme unto the course of human history. The meaning of secular history has to be found in the light of the sacred history. Since man is now living under the six epoch, there could be no millennium before the second coming of Christ23 Augustine rejects the chiliastic view for it does not fit well with his whole scheme of his idea of De Civitate Dei, or put it in current modern theological term, the kingdom of God. Paul Tillich gives a good explanation of this:


" But one thing was clear for him (Augustine): there is no thousand-year stage in world history, no third age. Chiliasm or millennialism was denied by him. Christ rules the church in this present time; there are the thousand years. There is no stage of history beyond the one in which we are living. The kingdom of God rules through the hierarchy, and the chiliasts are wrong. We should not look beyond the present period in which the kingdom of God is present in terms of history."24


         The anti-chiliastic view gives rise to Augustine's ambiguous attitude towards the contemporary history. Augustine has always been criticized as indifferent to the present history and one may even charge his as "anti-historical" for his rigid theologization of history25 In the twelve books of the second part of De Civitate Dei, only four books deal with the two cities in the course of mankind (BK. 15-18). Even in this group of four, only the eighteenth Book treats the historical development directly26. This shows clearly that Augustine regards the world history as relatively insignificant. Secular history has to be interpreted according to the sacred history so that its meaning will then be revealed. History alone is devoid of any pattern and relevance.


IV. The Shape of De Civitate Dei: Cursus and Procursus


Augustine's ambiguous idea of contemporary history can be further illustrated from his usage of the words: curses, excursus, procursus. The three words are all derived from Curro, to run. It denotes a running, course, way or path27. In the De Civitate Dei, Augustine speaks of the " course (Cursus) of God's glorious pilgrim city" (CD 15:15), "the progress (cursus) of both our cities: [CD 15:27], "the origin, progress (excursus), and consummation of the two cities"[CD 15:1], "their progression (excursus) from man's first offspring"[CD 11:11] and the "original progress (procursus) and due limits of both cities: [CD 1:34]. Even the very first sentence of De Civitate Dei declares its purpose is to delineate "that most glorious society and celestial city of God's faithful, which is partly seated in the course (cursus) of these declining times"[CD 1:1].


A. Pagan Cyclism


All these words depict history as a continuous process as distinct from the cyclical view prevalent at that time. Karl Lowith, a distinguished theologian of history, acknowledges the Christian view of history as the innovation against the classical cyclism. It is only the breakthrough by the Christian view of history that makes possible the necessary condition for a philosophy of history.28 Ancient people influenced by the eternal rotation of the natural world tend to understand the world as a cycle of life and death. History is likewise a cycle of ascent and decline, of progress and regress. Man is caught in this vicious cycle and is at the mercy of the course of history. It is Augustine who boldly refutes this cyclical view of history in De Civitate Dei:


"But what wonder if these men run in their circular error, and find no way forth, seeing they neither know mankind's origin nor his end, being not able to pierce into God's depths, who being eternal, and without beginning, yet gave time a beginning, and made man in time whom He had not made before, yet not now makes He him by any sudden motion, but as He had eternally decreed?"[CD 12:14]


Therefore the concept of creation completely negates the idea of recurrence and the eternity of the world. This world has a definite beginning and end that is destined by God. Augustine goes on to caricature those men as Psalms 12:8 describes, "the wicked walk in a circuit". The roots of this linear conception of history can be traced back to the Old Testament prophets who strongly emphasis the sovereignty of Yahweh over the history of mankind. But it was Augustine who first elaborated this concept fully and produced a theology of history worthy of this name. Thus Augustine determined the whole course of development of the philosophy of history throughout the Middle Ages and continued to exert his influence down to the present day.29


B. Christian Progressivism


Augustine has to face the challenge of pagan cyclism from without and the disturbance of Christian progressivism from within. The idea of progress originated from the second century Jewish historian, Eusebius. This includes an optimistic belief in the development of temporal history and the identification of the state and church.30 In the days of Augustine, people even took the messianic passage in the bible as a portrayal of the Pax Romana. But this prevailing view does not agree with Augustine's idea of history. For him the heavenly city and the earthly city are juxtaposed in the present in the present age and will be separated in the final judgment. The citizens of the city of God are only pilgrims on the earth and they are in wait of the final consummation. Hence the meaning of temporal history bears significance only with regard to the salvation history beyond. The world history itself does not have any intrinsic relevance. This idea also contributes to the ambiguities in Augustine's thought concerning world history. The advocates of progressivism often incline to stress the birth of Christ as a manifestation of Pax Augustus. But in book eighteenth where Augustine deals directly with the historical development, he stops abruptly at the birth of Jesus and passes it over lightly.


"Herod reigning in Judaea, Rome's government being changed, and Augustus Caesar being emperor, the world being all at peace, Christ (according to the precedent prophecy) was born in Bethlehem of Judah, being manifestly man of His virgin mother, and secretly God of God His Father, " (CD 18:46)


This modest introduction to Christ's birth can be taken as a good illustration of Augustine's rejection of the progressive view of history. Although Christ has been born under "Augustus Caesar being emperor, the world being all at peace", man still cannot identify Pax Augustus with the messianic age.  Augustine gives his account of history only up to Christ's birth. For afterward it is only a period of interim which is of small significance. Furthermore T.E. Mommsen has rightly pointed out that in many common English version of De Civitate Dei, the rendering of excursus and procursus as "progress" and "Development" "seems very questionable, both from the linguistic point of view and in consideration of the modern connotation" 31Therefore it can be quite sufficiently shown that Augustine never agrees with the idea of progress. Besides with the Goths and Vandals plundering the Roman Empire, there is no room for optimism.

         Thus Augustine developed his idea of history out of the tension of pagan cyclism and Christian progressivism.


V. The Definition of De Civitate Dei: Love


The whole body of Augustine's theology is characterized by his profound insight into human nature, Confessions is one of the first autobiographies in the West. It is marked by the qualities of detachment, of close self-examination and of the reflective consciousness. He uses the triune character of selfhood to resemble the Divine trinity. It is even possible to suggest that the discovery of selfhood in the West begin from Augustine. The starting point of his theology is the inner world of self-consciousness. Hence the mark of Augustine's theology is introspective and ontological, which is in contrast with the extrospective and cosmological approach of Aquinas. This introspective character of Augustine's thought also deeply influenced his idea of history and this can be shown by the emphasis of love in De Civitate Dei.       

         The destiny of the two cities is determined eschatologically and theologically, but the basic distinction between the two cities lies in the nature of their love. The concept of love is a basic category of Augustine's doctrine of man. The concept of love is determinate to the understanding of human nature and likewise the object of love determines the nature of the two cities. Here it clearly demonstrates how Augustine's profound understanding of human nature is interwoven into De Civitate Dei:     


"Two loves therefore have given origin to these two cities, self-love in contempt of God unto the earthly, love of God in contempt of one's self to the heavenly. The first seeks the glory of man, and the latter desires God only as the testimony of the conscience, the greatest glory." (CD 14:28)


Love is the underlying principle of the living world. To live is to love. For Augustine, love is not understood in the modern sentimental sense. It can be represented as a kind of life force, which pervades the whole world. Man by nature seeks to be fulfilled in love. Love is not confined to emotion only, but it embraces the totality of man's existence: his reason, will, mind, and consciousness. Love is not always good, even sin is a product of love. Therefore man is determined by the object of his love. Love exists in order and the highest one is the love of God, amor Dei. Love of the wold produces sin and love of God gives life. By making use of the theology of love, Augustine unveils the essential nature of man and the ground of his being.

         The theology of love is smoothly transposed into De Civitate Dei. The two cities are divided according to their objects of love. Two loves produce two cities. Love as the nature of man is developed into the unifying principle of world history. Hence Augustine's concept of history is understood in term of his doctrine of man. Although he meaning of the two cities should be taken "mystically", as Augustine stated32, yet the way that the civitas terrena and civitas Dei are personified in Cain and Abel respectively can best illustrate the idea of history as a fulfillment of human nature in Augustine's thought.


A. The Doctrine of Original Sin


Augustine's idea of love is a key concept for him to understand the universe and man. It is closely related to his doctrine of man, which is in turn expressed in his doctrine of fall, original sin and grace. This profound understanding of human nature has a very strong import to the construction of De Civitate Dei. From the very beginning, Augustine depicted the two cities as the personification of two men, Cain and Abel. These two first parents of mankind determined the destiny of the two cities. One is to live according to man and the other is to live according to God33. Behind this concept of moral dualism is the doctrine of fall and original sin that underlies the whole human historical existence. The whole mankind is fallen in Adam. This is clearly described by Augustine as follows:


" For God (the Creator of nature, and not of vice) made man upright: who being willingly depraved and justly condemned, begot all his offspring under the same depravation and condemnation. For in him were we all, since we all were that one man, who, through the woman who was made of himself before sin, fell into sin. We had not our particular forms yet, but there was the seed of that nature, the slave to death, and the object of just condemnation. " (CD 13:14)


The identification of human being as a fallen man provides the sense of unity of mankind, which is crucial to Augustine's unified understanding of history. The concept of original sin also prevents Augustine from accepting the progressivist view. Man is so perverse that there cannot be any hope regarding the earthly history and institutions.  Thus Augustine also refrains from taking the Roman Empire or even the Churches the Civitate Dei.34 De Civitate Dei is widely mistaken as a picture of contrast between the eternal church and the earthly state, sometimes it can be even said of a threefold opposition among the kingdom of God, Satan and man35. It is more appropriate to denote the two cities as two mystical communities constituted by two kinds of people with opposite origins. The two cities exist side be side, intermingled on the earth and can be separated till the end of earth.


B. The Doctrine of Grace


The Doctrine of original sin provides the basis of the solidarity of mankind and consequently the unity of its history. Likewise the doctrine of grace is also a basic rationale behind the opus magnum. Augustine is the theologian of grace par excellance. C. H. Cochrane surpassingly described the relationship between Augustine's doctrine of grace and the idea of love:


"Translated into terms of psychology, the doctrine of grace resolves itself into the doctrine that 'my love is my weight' and that the greater love is ultimately irresistible. As such, the working of the Spirit emerges, not as magic but, in the deepest and truest sense of the world, as 'natural law'.... Its efficacy as a means of salvation thus depends upon the assumption that the image of God, i.e. of the creative and moving principle, has not been wholly effaced from the hearts even of believers. This being so, the process of salvation may be understood as one of sublimation in which the same human love discovers a new centre of fixation; concupiscence, which is self-love, being thus transmuted into direction, which is the love of God. From this standpoint Augustine argues that, so far from there being any inconsistency between the notions of free will and grace, the perfection of grace is the perfection of freedom." 36


The last statement is also an equivalent to the renowned theological motto of the medieval age: Grace is not the denial but the fulfillment of nature. Augustine disclaims mankind can attain actualization and fulfillment alone. It is only through the regeneration, which is the gift of divine grace that man can achieve the state of perfection. This regeneration " is not to be understood as anything magical, the sudden, inexplicable, and final gift of an "inner light", but as the culmination of a long and arduous process of self-discipline by which the natural is gradually transformed into the spiritual man"37. It is only through grace that man can arrive at a complete reorientation of his love: the love of self (amor sui) may be subordinated to the love of God (amor Dei).

         Therefore the two cities are defined by their objects of love which is in turn determined by the doctrine of grace. The heavenly city is "by grace predestined, and by grace elected, by grace a pilgrim upon earth, and by race a citizen in heaven" (CD 15:1). It is by grace that the distinction and destiny of the two cities are found. They are different yet coexist on earth until the end. In view of the significant import of the doctrine of grace to De Civitate Dei, J.N. Figgis aptly stated that  " much of the book is but an expansion of Augustine's doctrine of grace applied on the scale of world history"38


VI. Conclusion


As what has been shown above, Augustine's understanding of history is derived out of a bunch of tensions. He was a man of antiquity who was familiar with the classical 'historia'. Yet Augustine reinterpreted this idea under the light of the biblical concept of prophecy and fulfillment. The meaning of human history is ascribed by the biblical salvation-history. The creative tension between pagan cyclism and Christian progressivism also forms part of the background of Augustine's thought. History is directional for Augustine in so far as a process of prophecy and fulfillment. It is neither cyclic nor progressive. Finally the concept of love, which is closely related to his doctrine of man, becomes the underlying principle of De Civitate Dei.

         Hence there are a number of formative factors to Augustine's synthesis of human history: his concept of revelation, human nature, sin and grace. These are the controlling principles from which he deduced his theory of history. Therefore numerous scholars have argued against that Augustine really developed a 'philosophy' of history in a strict sense39 it is more appropriate to denote it as a theology of history for its emphasis on revelation and Christian faith. Hence Jacques Maritain even proposed to call it the wisdom of history' so as to illustrate its religious characteristic40. Nevertheless it is of no major significance whether we call it as a philosophy or theology of history. What really matters is Augustine's profound insight into history will certainly become a constant inspiration to us.


VII.     A Christian Theology of History for Today


         How can we make use of Augustine's theology of history? What can we learn from his profound understanding of history? In the course of writing this essay, these kinds of question come up naturally and frequently. The followings are some reflections on the relevance and significance of Augustine's theology of history for today.



A. A Scriptural View of History

Augustine interprets history in terms of prophecy and fulfillment, which is derived from the Scripture. This does not mean that he uses the Bible as some horoscope to give prediction. Augustine understands human history as two phases of development: salvation history and world history. But these two phases of history do not correlate with each other in the present world. Augustine will never read the Bible and newspaper side by side so as to seek their coherence. It is futile to look for any corresponding events between the two. The City of God and the city of the world exist together until the end. History is by nature ambiguous and thus remains a mystery to man.


B. A Personal View of History

Augustine takes love as the basic distinction between the city of God and the city of man. Paul Tillich defines precisely the city of God as the actualization of love.41 The concept of love is a basic tenet of Augustine's thought. It is in line with the introspective character of his theology, which give rise to a profound insight to the nature of man. Man is always the central concern of Augustine. To understand oneself is a means to understand God. Hence Augustine obtains a personal perspective to human history. History is not made up of events. Man is the subject of history. "What is Rome but the Romans?". This statement clearly reflects the personal imprint of Augustine's historical thought.


C. A Realistic View of History

Augustine is an amillenniumist. He concludes this position out of the tension between the two extreme view of history at his days. On the one hand, Augustine rejects the pagan cyclism for its unbiblical character. On the other hand, he rejects the Christian progressivism for its over-optimistic character. Augustine does not believe that human history repeats in meaningless cycle, nor does he believe that human history will progress until the millennium. He sees history realistically so as not to ascribe a fatalistic or idealistic illusion on it. Man can only prepare for the coming of the city of God on earth, but not to build it by any human effort.



- The End -






Augustine's Writings


The City of God, tran. By John Healey. Everyman's Library. London: Dent, 1945.




Barrow, R.H. Introduction to St. Augustine's The City of God. London: Faber & Faber, 1950.


Battenhouse, R.W. A Companion to the Study of St. Augustine. Oxford, 1955.


Bourke, V.J. Wisdom from St. Augustine. Houston: Center for Thomistic Studies, 1984.


Brown, P.R.L. Augustine of Hippo: A Biography. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1967.


- , Religion and Society in the Age of Saint Augustine. London: Faber & Faber, 1972.


Cochrane, C. N. Christianity and Classical Culture. New York: Oxford, 1957.


D'Archy, M.C. St. Augustine: His Age, Life, and Thought. New York: Meridian, 1957.


Dray, W.H. Philosophy of History. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1964.


Figgis, J.N. The Political Aspects of St. Augustine's City of God. Gloucester: Peter Smith, 1921.


Gilson, E. The Christian Philosophy of St. Augustine. New York: Random House, 1960.


Harbison, E.H. Christianity and History. New Jersey: Princeton, 1964.


Jaspers, K. The Great Philosophers. London: Rupert Hart-Davis, 1962.


Lowith, K. Meanings in History. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1960.


Manuel, F.E. Shapes of Philosophical History. London: George Allen & Unwin, 1965.


Markus, R.A.. Saeculum: History and Society in the Theology of St. Augustine. Cambridge, C.U.P., 1970.


Patterson, L.G. God and History in Early Christian Though: A Study of Themes from Justin Martyr to Gregory the Great. New York: Seabury Press, 1967.


Press, G.A. The Development of the Idea of History in Antiquity. Kingston and Montreal, McGill-Queen's University Press, 1982.


Richardson, Alan. History, Sacred and Profane. London, SCM, 1964.


TeSelle, E. Augustine: The Theologian. London: Burns & Oates, 1970.


Tillich, Paul. A History of Christian Thought: From Its Judaic and Hellenistic Origins to Existentialism. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1968.


Walsh, W.H. Philosophy of History: An Introduction. New York, Harper & Brothers, 1960.






Althaus, P. "The Meaning and Purpose of History in Christian View," Universitas 2/1965: 197-204.


Barker, E. "Introduction" to Saint Augustine, The City of God. London, Dent, 1973, vii-xxxviii.


Carlyle, A.J. "St. Augustine and the City of God," in The Social and Political Ideas of Some Great Medieval Thinkers, ed. F.J.C. Hearnshaw. London: Dawsons of Paul Mall, 1923. 42-52.


Gilson, E. "Forword" to Saint Augustine, The City of God, abr. And ed. By V.J. Bourke. Garden City, N.Y.: Image Books, 1958. 13-35.


Loetscher, F.W. "Augustine's City of  God," Theology Today I:311-325, 1944.


Markus, R.A. "Augustine, Man in History and Society," in The Cambridge History of Later Greek and Early Medieval Philosophy, ed. By A.H. Armstrong. Cambridge: 1967. 406-19.


- , "Augustine," in Critical History of Western Philosophy, ed. By D.J. O'Connor. New York: 1964. 79-97.


Mommsen, T.E. "Saint Augustine and the Christian Idea of Progress: The Background of the City of God," Journal of the History of Ideas, XII: 346-74, 1951.


Mueller, W.A. "Approaches to History," Theology Today I:300-312, 1944.























1 W.H. Walsh takes history as "the totality of past actions" and "the narrative or account we construct of

   them now". Philosophy of History: An Introduction, p. 14. W.H. Dray takes history to refer to the course

   of events and the historian's study itself which correspond to the "speculative and critical philosophy of

   history". The speculative seeks to discover the meaning in history and the critical endeavors to clarify the

   nature of historical inquiry. Philosophy of History, p. 1.

2 This is best illustrated by the distinction between Historie and Geschichte commonly found in the

   language of modern theology. L.G. Patterson, God and History in Early Christian Thought, p. 4.

3 Rome was sacked by Goths, Vandals and Normans for many times. The later ravages were far more

   terrible than 410. Cf. E. Becker, "Introduction", The City of God, x. T. E. Mommsen, "St. Augustine and

   the Christian Idea of Progress: The Background of The City of God", Journal of the History of Ideas,

   XII(1951), 346.

4 Lion Handbook of Church History, p. 129.

5 Karl Lowith, Meaning in History, p. 167. 

6 "In the meantime Rome was overwhelmed by the invasion of the Goths under their king Alaric and by the

   tide of the great calamity which followed. The worshippers of the false gods in all their diversity, whom

   we call by a name now well established "pagans", tried to attribute the overthrow of Rome to the

   Christian religion and excelled themselves in the bitterness and malignity of the blasphemy which they

   now began to utter against the true God. Blazing with zeal for the household of God, I started to write the

   books of the De Civitate Dei to combat their blasphemies and error." Quoted in R. H. Barrow,

   Introduction to St. Augustine. The City of God, p. 17.

7 Ibid.

8 Ibid.

9 Op. cit., p. 18.

10 Ibid.

11 Ibid.

12 E. Gilson. The Christian Philosophy of St. Augustine, p. 182. C. Dawson, "St. Augustine and his age," in

    Saint Augustine: His Age, Life and Thought, p. 58. J. N. Figgis, The Political Aspects of St. Augustine's

    'City of God', p. 46.

13 Hereafter the quotations are from John Healey's translation, The City of God, Everyman's Library, 1620.

    Cited as CD.

14 CD 1:34, 10:32.

15 R. A. Markus, "Augustine, Man in History and Society" in The Cambridge History of Later Greek and

    Early Medieval Philosophy ed. By A. H. Armstrong, p. 412.

16 G. A. Press, The Development of the Ideas of History in Antiquity, p. 112. L. G. Patterson, God and

    History, pp. 3-6. Cf. CD 2:18, 2:22, 3:17, 3:26, 4:6, 18:40.

17 "For there are some others amongst them that are learned, and love that very history that makes these

    things plain to their understanding." CD 2:3, 18:40.

18 CD 18:37

19 R.A. Markus, Saeculum: History and Society in the Theology of St. Augustine, p. 190.

20 It is legitimate to describe Augustine's theology of history in this way, although he could never make use

    of this modern theological terminology. R.A. Markus, "Augustine, Man in History and Society", p. 409

21 Six epochs divided by Noah, Abraham, David, Babylonian Captivity and Christ, which is parallel with

    the six ages of man: infancy, childhood, youth, early manhood, later manhood, and old age. This is also

    in analogy to the six days of creation. K. Lowith, Meaning in History, p. 171. Markus, op. cit., p.


Markus, p.19.

22 Childhood, manhood and old age which is parallel to the age before the law, under the law and the age of

    grace. Lowith, op. Cit., p. 171. Markus, Saeculum, p. 19.

23  CD 20:7,9

24 P. Tillich, A History of Christian Thought, p. 121.

25 C. Dawson, " The City of God" in St. Augustine: His Age, Life, and Thought, p. 43.

26 T. E. Mommsen, " St. Augustine and Progress". P. 370

27 G.A. Press, The Idea of History, p. 141

28 K. Lowith, The Meaning of History, pp. 1-19.

29 V.J. Bourke, Wisdom from St. Augustine, pp. 194-195. K. Lowith, The Meaning of History, pp. 160-

    165. T.E. Mommsen, "St. Augustine and Progress", pp. 354-356.

30 T.E. Mommsen, "St. Augustine and Progress", p. 363.

31 T.E. Mommsen, "St. Augustine and Progress", p. 371-72. Cf. F.E. Manuel, Shapes of Philosophical

    History, pp. 29-30. G.A. Press, The Idea of History, p. 141

32 CD 15:1.

33 Ibid.

34 E. R. Hardy, Jr., "The City of God", pp. 279-80. K. Lowith, Meaning in History, p. 169.

35 E. R. Hardy, Jr., " The City of God", pp. 279-80.

36 C.N Cochrane, Christianity and Classical Culture, pp.453-54

37 Op. cit., p.503

38 J. N. Figgis, The Political Aspects of St. Augustine's  'City of God', p.6

39 V.J. Bourke, Wisdom from St. Augustine, pp. 192-3. "His explanation of universal history is essentially

     religious in the sense that it derives its light from Revelation. He was, therefore, actually a theologian of

     history." E. Gilson, " Introduction", pp30-31. "Nor is it in the strict sense a philosophy of history. It is

     properly neither historical nor philosophical. It is a theology of history." F. W. Loetscher, " Augustine's

     City of God", p.318. "It is not a philosophy of history but a dogmatic-theological interpretation of

     Christianity." K. Lowith, Meaning in History, p. 166.

40 J. Maritain, "St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas," in St. Augustine: His Age, Life, and Thought,

    p. 220.

41 P. Tillich, History of Christian Thought, p. 121.







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