10 books like Augustine of Hippo

By Peter Brown,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Augustine of Hippo. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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The Varieties of Religious Experience

By William James,

Book cover of The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature

This book is full of stories, using case studies that include the lives of Walt Whitman, Saint Augustine, and Russian writer Leo Tolstoy—that I found fascinating. Here psychologist William James challenges what he—and I—were both taught: namely, that religions are primarily childish fantasies (the view of Sigmund Freud, founder of psychoanalysis, in The Future of an Illusion). But after James, as a young man, experienced a terrifying depression, he describes his surprise at what felt to him like a spiritual breakthrough that enabled him to recover. James skips questions about dogma and belief, instead identifies a range of different “varieties of religious experience” that, far more than “belief,” can give rise to spiritual insight. 

The Varieties of Religious Experience

By William James,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Varieties of Religious Experience as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Standing at the crossroads of psychology and religion, this catalyzing work applied the scientific method to a field abounding in abstract theory. William James believed that individual religious experiences, rather than the precepts of organized religions, were the backbone of the world's religious life. His discussions of conversion, repentance, mysticism and saintliness, and his observations on actual, personal religious experiences - all support this thesis. In his introduction, Martin E. Marty discusses how James's pluralistic view of religion led to his remarkable tolerance of extreme forms of religious behaviour, his challenging, highly original theories, and his welcome lack of pretension…


The Case for God

By Karen Armstrong,

Book cover of The Case for God

Armstrong has written brilliant histories of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, and Chinese spirituality, biographies of Buddha and Mohammed, and a memoir of her own spiritual struggles as a nun who left the Catholic Church. Her reputation as the foremost scholar in our time of the history of religions is well-earned. The Case for God is an erudite account of a human need that has existed through all of recorded history and the thwarting of that need, especially in our own polarized time, by fundamentalism, arrogant misreadings of spiritual texts, and notions of God at odds with the selflessness, creativity, and compassion faith is meant to inspire.

The Case for God

By Karen Armstrong,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Case for God as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

There is widespread confusion about the nature of religious truth. For the first time in history, a significantly large number of people want nothing to do with God. Militant atheists preach a gospel of godlessness with the zeal of missionaries and find an eager audience.

Tracing the history of faith from the Palaeolithic Age to the present, Karen Armstrong shows that meaning of words such as 'belief', 'faith', and 'mystery' has been entirely altered, so that atheists and theists alike now think and speak about God - and, indeed, reason itself - in a way that our ancestors would have…


Without God, Without Creed

By James C. Turner,

Book cover of Without God, Without Creed: The Origins of Unbelief in America

Turner asks a great question. How did the United States go from being the deeply religious society of the Puritans and the Founders to a culture of widespread unbelief, especially among the well-educated? His astute analysis of 19th-century America explains why and how agnosticism and atheism gradually became socially acceptable alternatives to faith. As Turner sees it, attempts to “explain” God and fit the Divine into a more rationalistic, scientific, and anti-mystical framework, and the deadening hand of dogma, helped pave the way for a culture resistant to the very idea of God.

Without God, Without Creed

By James C. Turner,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Without God, Without Creed as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Until the 19th century, atheism and agnosticism were viewed as bizarre aberrations. But atheism emerged as a viable alternative to other ideologies. How and why it became possible is the subject of this cultural revolution.


Why I Am a Catholic

By Garry Wills,

Book cover of Why I Am a Catholic

Garry Wills, a scholar of Jefferson, Lincoln, modern politics, and religious history, is a major thorn in the side of the Catholic Church. He’s critical of that institution’s checkered past, the questionable primacy of the pope, and the social and political narrowness of its bishops. Yet he is a devout Catholic, a confirmed believer. He sees no contradiction in that. This is a blunt, persuasive book about reconciling an urge to faith in a higher, transcendent power with a sharply critical perspective on an institution that, in Wills’ view, is often less about the teachings of Jesus than a corporate structure pretending to more spiritual authority and infallibility than it has any right to assert.

Why I Am a Catholic

By Garry Wills,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Why I Am a Catholic as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An “intellectually satisfying, and spiritually moving,” argument for a questioning, conscience-driven faith, by a New York Times bestselling author (Booklist).
 
Pulitzer Prize winner Garry Wills has been asked more than once why he remains in the Church, especially in the wake of his bestselling book Papal Sins, which examined the darker side of the religion’s history. In Why I Am a Catholic, he offers some persuasive and heartfelt answers.
 
Beginning with a reflection on his early experiences as a child, and later as a Jesuit seminarian, Wills reveals the importance of Catholicism in his own life. He discusses G.K. Chesterton,…


The Confessions

By Saint Augustine, Maria Boulding (translator),

Book cover of The Confessions

Saint Augustine's autobiography is, simply, one of the most remarkable and influential books ever written. To start with, it is a terrific tale. Augustine's evolution from a restless, pear-pilfering child, to an ambitious and tempestuous teen, and then a thoughtful and searching adult desperate to find his way (and foil his mother's plans for him) is one almost any reader can relate to. Moreover, in the process of examining his own halting progress toward faith, Augustine more or less invented a new form of "selfhood." For anyone interested in medieval Christianity, Jewish-Christian relations, or European thought, it all starts with Augustine.

The Confessions

By Saint Augustine, Maria Boulding (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Confessions as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This 2nd Edition includes a new annotated bibliography by William Harmless, S.J.

The Confessions of Saint Augustine is considered the all time number one Christian classic. Augustine undertook his greatest piece of writing with the conviction that God wanted him to make this confession. The Confessions are, in fact, an extended poetic, passionate, intimate prayer. Augustine s experience of God speaks to us across time with little need of transpositions. This new translation by Maria Boulding masterfully captures his experience.

Augustine was probably forty-three when he began this endeavor. He had been a baptized Catholic for ten years, a priest…


The Letters of Abelard and Heloise

By Peter Abelard, Héloïse, Betty Radice (translator)

Book cover of The Letters of Abelard and Heloise

The letters collected in this slim paperback collectively tell one of the most dramatic and moving stories of the entire Middle Ages. Letter 1, directed toward a (perhaps fictional) friend, is a spiritual autobiography, consciously modelled on Augustine's Confessions, in which the great philosopher and theologian Peter Abelard recounts his doomed love affair with his brilliant seventeen-year-old pupil Heloise.  This affair resulted in Abelard's violent castration at the instigation of her outraged uncle.  In Letter 1, written years later, Abelard explains how his suffering gradually led him towards God. Eight more letters, exchanged between Abelard and Heloise years after their parting, are less dramatic but almost more poignant, as Heloise, now a nun, seeks solace and connection from her former lover, who offers spiritual advice but cannot give her the intimacy she craves.

The Letters of Abelard and Heloise

By Peter Abelard, Héloïse, Betty Radice (translator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Letters of Abelard and Heloise as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The story of Abelard and Heloise remains one of the world's most celebrated and tragic love affairs. Through their letters, we follow the path of their romance from its reckless and ecstatic beginnings when Heloise became Abelard's pupil, through the suffering of public scandal and enforced secret marriage, to their eventual separation.


Holy Feast and Holy Fast

By Caroline Walker Bynum,

Book cover of Holy Feast and Holy Fast: The Religious Significance of Food to Medieval Women

This choice might surprise you: it’s a famous book in medieval studies circles but not the sort of thing a historian of philosophy would usually pick up. But its exploration of the role of the body in writings by female medieval authors is foundational for understanding what is sometimes called “affective mysticism.” That topic expands our sense of what medieval philosophy could be. Other scholars whose work is worth checking out on this topic include Amy Hollywood and Christina Van Dyke.

Holy Feast and Holy Fast

By Caroline Walker Bynum,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Holy Feast and Holy Fast as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the period between 1200 and 1500 in western Europe, a number of religious women gained widespread veneration and even canonization as saints for their extraordinary devotion to the Christian eucharist, supernatural multiplications of food and drink, and miracles of bodily manipulation, including stigmata and inedia (living without eating). The occurrence of such phenomena sheds much light on the nature of medieval society and medieval religion. It also forms a chapter in the history of women. Previous scholars have occasionally noted the various phenomena in isolation from each other and have sometimes applied modern medical or psychological theories to them.…


The Crusades and the Christian World of the East

By Christopher MacEvitt,

Book cover of The Crusades and the Christian World of the East: Rough Tolerance

There has been an explosion of interest in the Crusades since 9/11, with many medieval historians working hard to push back against over-simplified and often inaccurate depictions of Christian holy war and Christian-Muslim relations. This impressively researched book adds a fascinating new dimension to the story of the Crusades, examining relations between newly arrived European Catholics and the many and varied indigenous Levantine Christian communities in the decades following the Crusader conquest of Jerusalem in 1099. MacEvitt rejects the dominant narrative, which held that the Frankish conquerors, imbued with the rigid prejudices of an intolerant European Christendom, had little interaction with or understanding of the local populations. Instead, he paints a portrait of a surprisingly practical and flexible Crusader regime, characterized by extensive Frankish-local social, religious, and legal interactions. MacEvitt's nuanced model, which he dubs "rough tolerance," avoids both idealization and demonization, and offers a fruitful way to approach relations…

The Crusades and the Christian World of the East

By Christopher MacEvitt,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Crusades and the Christian World of the East as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the wake of Jerusalem's fall in 1099, the crusading armies of western Christians known as the Franks found themselves governing not only Muslims and Jews but also local Christians, whose culture and traditions were a world apart from their own. The crusader-occupied swaths of Syria and Palestine were home to many separate Christian communities: Greek and Syrian Orthodox, Armenians, and other sects with sharp doctrinal differences. How did these disparate groups live together under Frankish rule?
In The Crusades and the Christian World of the East, Christopher MacEvitt marshals an impressive array of literary, legal, artistic, and archeological evidence…


Take and Read

By Eugene H. Peterson,

Book cover of Take and Read: Spiritual Reading An Annotated List

The words and life of Eugene Peterson have been important to my own spiritual formation, so finding a book that shares the books he read that formed him was a must. He recommends classic books, a wide variety of theologians and Bible scholars, poetry, and contemporary and mystery novels. Eugene Peterson had a large and generous heart and a deep-thinking mind, and finding out that I had read many of his favorites already was an encouragement. And looking for more of his recommendations has proved useful. 

Take and Read

By Eugene H. Peterson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Take and Read as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Spiritual reading has fallen on bad times. Today, reading is largely a consumer activity, done for information that may fuel ambitions or careers -- and the faster the better. Take and Read represents Eugene H. Peterson's attempt to rekindle the activity of spiritual reading, reading that considers any book that comes to hand in a spiritual way, tuned to the Spirit, alert to intimations of God.

Take and Read provides an annotated list of the books that have stood the test of time and that, for Peterson, are spiritually formative in the Christian life. The books on this list range…


Ideas of Slavery from Aristotle to Augustine

By Peter Garnsey,

Book cover of Ideas of Slavery from Aristotle to Augustine

Peter Garnsey was my PhD supervisor and he is a generous soul with a love of big topics. This book gives an overview of the many ways in which the ancients thought about slavery. It is true that there was no Roman abolition movement, but many ancient writers thought deeply about slavery and the issues involved. Sometimes they justified it, other times they criticised it, but throughout slavery was seen as unavoidable. The Christians called their God “dominus” just as slaves would have done their master.

Ideas of Slavery from Aristotle to Augustine

By Peter Garnsey,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ideas of Slavery from Aristotle to Augustine as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This study, unique of its kind, asks how slavery was viewed by the leading spokesmen of Greece and Rome. There was no movement for abolition in these societies, nor a vigorous debate, such as occurred in antebellum America, but this does not imply that slavery was accepted without question. Dr Garnsey draws on a wide range of sources, pagan, Jewish and Christian, over ten centuries, to challenge the common assumption of passive acquiescence in slavery, and the associated view that, Aristotle apart, there was no systematic thought on slavery. The work contains both a typology of attitudes to slavery ranging…


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