On Order St. Augustine's Cassiciacum Dialogues, Volume 3 Saint Augustine, Michael P. Foley

Publication date:
12 Jan 2021
Yale University Press
352 pages: 210 x 140 x 22mm
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A fresh, new translation of Augustine’s third work as a Christian convert

The first four works written by St. Augustine of Hippo after his conversion to Christianity are dialogues that have influenced prominent thinkers from Boethius to Bernard Lonergan. Usually called the “Cassiciacum dialogues,” these four works are of a high literary and intellectual quality, combining Ciceronian and neo-Platonic philosophy, Roman comedy and Vergilian poetry, and early Christian theology. They are also, arguably, Augustine’s most charming works, exhibiting his whimsical levity and ironic wryness.

On Order is the third work in this tetralogy, and it is Augustine’s only work explicitly devoted to theodicy, the reconciliation of Almighty God’s goodness with evil’s existence. In this dialogue, Augustine argues that a certain kind of self-knowledge is the key to unlocking the answers to theodicy’s vexing questions, and he devotes the latter half of the dialogue to an excursus on the liberal arts as disciplines that will help strengthen the mind to know itself and God.

Michael P. Foley is professor of patristics at Baylor University. He is the author or editor of several books, including Frank Sheed’s translation of Augustine’s Confessions.

“A consistent, faithful and elegant translation of the crucial but relatively neglected dialogues by Augustine of Hippo.”—Simon Oliver, Durham University, UK

“A truly impressive undertaking.”—Marc D. Guerra, Assumption College

"Michael Foley’s orchestration of the Cassiciacum dialogues—a four-part translation, annotation, and commentary—renders Augustine’s most important voice, the voice of the seeker, readily available to a broad readership. These are perfect teaching texts, and they are equally compelling for experts.  This welcome return of the dialogues, separate and yet intimately related in Foley’s handling of them, marks the most important literary event in Augustinian studies since Peter Brown’s biography."—James Wetzel, Director of the Augustinian Institute at Villanova University