This is the end of Part Four! Like the first three books in this part Augustine again spends his time summarizing history. This book is a little more interesting than the last three in that it focuses on secular history rather than biblical. Occasionly Augustine will show the parallels between what the Bible records of Israel’s history and what is going on in other parts of the world. This does a good job of illustrating and clarifying the context of the Bible.
“City of God” Part Four – “The Development of the Two Cities,” Book Eighteen – “The City of Man in Ancient History”
Chapter 1: Augustine begins this book by summarizing the outline of his work thus far. I’ll include the outline here to recap the work for those who would like a refresher.
Books 1-5: Augustine shows that the Roman gods were incapable of providing any service or goods to their followers here on earth in our mortal lives.
Books 6-10: Moving on from earthly benefits to an infinitely more important topic, Augustine shows that the Roman gods were woefully powerless to offer any sort of eternal life or salvation.
Books 11-14: Augustine establishes the origins of the two cities.
Book 15: The progress of the two cities is tracked simultaneously from Adam up to the Flood.
Book 16: The first half of this book tracks the development of both cities from the flood down to Abraham. The second half, though, focuses on the City of God from Abraham to the period of the monarchs.
Book 17: The City of God is tracked from the Jewish monarchs through the prophets to the incarnation of Jesus.
With this current book (book 18), Augustine will shift back to the time of Abraham and look at the progress made by the City of Man up to the time of the Apostles.
Chapter 2: Augustine back tracks to the time of Abraham to begin his survey of the city of man, beginning with the Assyrian Empire.
Chapters 3-7: [Editor’s Summary] A continuation of the survey of events in ancient history before the time of Moses.
Chapter 8: A list of the worlds major kings during the time of Moses is given, along with other important figures.
Chapter 9: The background and culture of Athens is observed.
Chapters 10-21: [Editor’s Summary] Augustine attempts to correlate certain events in pagan history with the possibly contemporary incidents of Bible history. Virgil and Varro are his chief sources for ancient secular history.
Chapter 23: A look at the Erythrean poet/prophetess Sibyl.
Chapter 24: A brief mention of theological poets like Orpheus. The raising of Romulus (and the Caesars) to divinity is looked at.
Chapter 25: A list of what was occurring in the Greek and Roman regions of the world when Judah was taken into exile.
Chapters 26-36: [Editor’s Summary] Continuing the parallelism of the histories of the Jews and the Gentiles, Augustine stresses the many Jewish prophecies of the coming of Christ and the ‘calling’ of the Gentiles.
Chapter 37: Around the time of the end of the exile, men like Pythagoras, Plato, and Socrates were beginning to advance philosophy.
Chapter 38:A side note on prophets that came before the time of Abraham, such as Noah and Enoch.
Chapter 39: Augustine rejects the notion that the written Hebrew language only began with the Mosaic Law.
Chapter 40: Augustine rejects the truth of Egyptian science accounting for 100,000 years of history. His main reason for this is that humanity itself is only about 6,000 years old.
Chapter 41: Turning aside from history temporarily, Augustine looks now to the philosophers, and how their goal always seems to be finding the chief happiness of man.They always contradict each other of course, because their goals always lie within man, not God.
Chapter 42: Ptolemy of Egypt desired a copy of the Hebrew Bible because he heard it was divinely inspired. But after receiving a copy of it in Hebrew, he desired a copy in Greek. The resulting translation is what gave us the Septuagint.
Chapter 43: The history of the Latin translation of the Bible, and how it compares to the Hebrew and Greek Bibles.
Chapters 44-45: [Editor’s Summary] The events of Jewish and pagan history in the centuries immediately preceding Christ are rapidly described in these two chapters.
Chapter 46: The advent of Christ into human history and the effect it had on the non believing Jewish nation, i.e. a stumbling block.
Chapters 47-50: [Editor’s Summary] The Jews were not the only citizens of God in ancient times; Job, for instance, was not a Jew. The prophecies of the reconstruction of the Temple are fulfilled in the growth of the Christian Church, and in the conversion of the Gentiles.
Chapter 51: On heretics. When the church began to grow and spread into the kingdom of man, Satan tried to infiltrate and harm the church through the use of heretics.
Chapter 52: [Editor’s Summary] No one knows how many persecutions Christ’s Church may yet suffer; certainly, there will be a final one, that of the Antichrist.
Chapter 53: Augustine rejects any attempt at trying to find a date for the return of Christ.
Chapter 54: Augustine concludes part four of his work with the death of Christ. Following that is a short look at the history and growth of the apostles and church body.
Next time: Part Five, “The Ends of the Two Cities.” Book Nineteen, “Philosophy and Christianity on Man’s End.”