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Augustine of Hippo “The City of God” Review Essay

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Updated: Jan 14th, 2022

Introduction

The book under consideration is The City of God written in Latin in the early 5th century AD by Augustine of Hippo. The book elaborates on the issues of God, Jews, martyrdoms, etc. Saint Augustine is considered to be the most influential figure in terms of shaping Christianity as it is and the Western Civilization. Moreover, he is known to be a Father of the Church. Therefore, his work is, perhaps, the most substantial collection of arguments that shape understanding of the origins of theology and God. As such, following the overall concept of Christianity, it is significant to say that Saint Augustine was one of those people claiming that happiness cannot be achieved in this life; people were created for suffering and martyrdom. Using the main ideas from The City of God that God puts you through many challenges throughout your life, this paper will argue that this results in happiness, unlike Augustine’s claims that happiness cannot be achieved by any means.

Main body

The author returned to the thoughts of evil’s emergence again and again because of political instability in the Roman Empire and his dramas. He lost his mother and son. He claimed that people undergo evil – physical illness – just because they communicate and talk to contagious men, and he thought it was unfair: “In this present time we learn to bear with equanimity the ills to which even good men are subject…” (Augustine, p. 23). Respectfully, let me express the idea of the immune system a person has – the more you get ill, the stronger and illness-resistant you become (not in all cases although). Therefore, once a person gets extremely resistant to colds, flues, etc., and morally strong when having cancer, for example, he wins over the unjust Augustine talked about. So, perhaps, God does not punish people but leads a person to the supreme understanding of happiness.

Another theme that Saint Augustine argued in his book was the problem of the body and soul. He uses saying that the body is Satan-inherent while the soul is the light from God. He wrote in his book: “For God shall bring into judgment every work, whether it be good or whether it be evil, with every despised person” (Augustine, p. 243) that brought Augustine to despair on why a man should be afraid of his actions and fear that after death, he will encounter with God if the Earth is a battlefield of Satan and God. And hence people are not to be judged since these two are fighting against each other. He said that free will comes ahead this time and a person undergoes a painstaking process to make the right decision. However, let me not agree with this statement because even if a person has to go through various difficulties to decode whether the physical temptation is good or bad, or whether he/she should fight this temptation, why is it called non-happiness? I hardly imagine a world without moral judgments and soul torments – this is what makes a person real and mature. This is some sort of exclusive path to self-improvement and once you reach the end of this path, happiness will come in due time.

Conclusion

In a word, the theological issues have not completely changed since fifteen centuries ago, however, I tend to think that people look at things more optimistically because God puts people through this to show what happiness is but not just to make people suffer and remember how dreadful it is.

Work Cited

Augustine, St., Dods, Marcus. City of God. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2009. Print.

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IvyPanda. "Augustine of Hippo “The City of God” Review." January 14, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/augustine-of-hippo-the-city-of-god-review/.

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IvyPanda. 2022. "Augustine of Hippo “The City of God” Review." January 14, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/augustine-of-hippo-the-city-of-god-review/.

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IvyPanda. (2022) 'Augustine of Hippo “The City of God” Review'. 14 January.

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