Item description for Augustine for Armchair Theologians (Armchair Series) by Stephen A. Cooper...
Overview In this book, Stephen Cooper provides an overview of the greatest theologian of the early church: Augustine of Hippo. Augustine has had a towering influence in the history of Christianity and his Confessions has long been regarded as one of Christianity's classic texts. Cooper introduces the life and thought of Augustine through discussing the Confession and shows how many of Augustine's human struggles are still with us today. He also examines the theological views of Augustine that emerged through the important controversies of his times. By focusing on the Confession, Cooper takes us through Augustine's journey as we see him losing his way and then finding it again by the grace of God. Augustine shows us what it means to be from God, to be oriented to God, and then brought to God by God. The illustrations throughout the volume enhance this presentation and memorable convey the issues Augustine addresses.
In this book, Stephen Cooper provides an overview of the greatest theologian of the early church: Augustine of Hippo. Augustine has had a towering influence in the history of Christianity and his "Confessions" has long been regarded as one of Christianity's classic texts. Cooper introduces the life and thought of Augustine through discussing the "Confessions" and shows how many of Augustine's human struggles are still with us today. He also examines the theological views of Augustine that emerged through the important controversies of his times.
Written by experts but designed for the novice, the Armchair series provides accurate, concise, and witty overviews of some of the most profound moments and theologians in Christian history. These books are essential supplements for first-time encounters with primary texts, lucid refreshers for scholars and clergy, and enjoyable reads for the theologically curious.
Citations And Professional Reviews Augustine for Armchair Theologians (Armchair Series) by Stephen A. Cooper has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
Library Journal - 10/01/2002 page 103
Booklist - 09/01/2002 page 22
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.12" Width: 5" Height: 0.66" Weight: 0.6 lbs.
Release Date Sep 30, 2002
Publisher PRESBYTERIAN PUBLISHING #86
Series Armchair Theologians
ISBN 0664223729 ISBN13 9780664223724
Availability 0 units.
More About Stephen A. Cooper
Cooper is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Franklin and Marshall College.
Stephen A. Cooper currently resides in the state of Pennsylvania.
Reviews - What do customers think about Augustine for Armchair Theologians (Armchair Series)?
Accessible Commentary on The Confessions with Quality, but Slightly Disconcerting Illustrations Sep 30, 2006
This text is more of a chapter by chapter commentary on the confessions than an introduction to Augustine's thought in general. There is very little mention of his other great works. Cooper pretty much tells Augustine's personal story rather than produce an accessible intro to his works. But reviewing the book for what it is rather than what I thought it would be: This is an accessible commentary on the confessions that does a very good job highlighting the major themes and unpacking how Augustine theological assertions emerge from the telling of his story. He is obviously very familiar with the text and selects numerous and appropriate, poetically translated excerpts that convey a sense of Augustine's accessible and conversational style.
As for the illustrations: I found them to be well done, humorous, and have used a couple of them in presentations on Augustine. This distinguishes the `Armchair Theologian' series from the `For Beginner's' series, whose illustrations are almost always disappointing. I do have one critique. The illustrator had no qualms about portraying God in flippant, somewhat irreverent cartoon form which I think Augustine (along with much of the Judea-Islamic-Christian tradition with their great discomfort regarding images of God) would be pretty uncomfortable with. I found them just a little disconcerting myself.
Confessions for the Armchair Theologian Sep 7, 2004
I was disappointed in this book...not because I found it inaccurate or a painful read. Rather I was hoping that this book would serve as an introduction to Augustine AND his theology. Instead, this book essentially just goes though Augustine's early life, following the outline in Augustine's Confessions.
The other books in this series spend most of their time focusing on the theological ideas of their subject, and while it is impossible to divorce theology from a person's biography, Augustine's ideas take a back seat to the narrative of his life. Because this book focuses so heavily on his life as described in Confessions it fails to really wrestle with any of the issues that Augustine was so influential on later in his life (for example, the problem of grace and free will).
If you have the time, I would strongly suggest passing by this book and reading Peter Brown's Augustine of Hippo...an exceedingly accessible and thorough theological biography of a great Christian.
Sit right down... Nov 1, 2003
Stephen Cooper, associate professor of religious studies at Franklin and Marshall College in Pennsylvania, has produced a very readable and practical guide to Augustine in this text, 'Augustine for the Armchair Theologians'. At first glance, one might think that the text is not a serious text (not always a bad thing to assume, mind you), as there are line-art drawing of a cartoon-ish nature throughout, but this is no book for dummies (although it is very accessible). Cooper does not dishonour the text of Augustine's 'Confessions', instead following very closely the autobiographical portion of the 'Confessions', deviating only to bring in outside material (from Augustine or from other sources) to further enlighten the reader.
Augustine remains a pivotal figure, both in church history, and history of the world generally. A man of great passion and great intellect, he combined these in fascinating ways, producing what many call the first real autobiography (in his 'Confessions') and putting together a mammoth collection of practical and philosophical theological writings, such that the scholar Isidore of Seville wrote that 'he who claims to have mastered all of Augustine is a liar'.
Augustine lived at the time of the fall of Rome and the initial breakdown of Roman society, a time when the primary surviving institution was the church, and the world longed for stability of 'the good old days'. Augustine himself was a man of great passion who had in his youth no problem of acting out of that passion; he had deep, powerful relationships and a keen intellect and personality that attracted people to him. It is perhaps this social aspect, Cooper states, that is the primary aspect of Augustine, both in his relationship in the world and his desiring a relationship with a God who also desires to be in relationship.
Cooper follows the first nine books (chapters) of 'Confessions' closely, and gives a brief overview of the rest of the 'Confessions', to some extent doing in some regard what he criticises others for doing - Cooper mentions that often when 'Confessions' are assigned as reading in college, only the first nine books are required. The tenth book is a remarkable piece of psychological self-study (centuries before psychological study was born), and the rest give insights into the way Augustine read scripture (a vitally important piece in understanding Augustine's overall thought development) as well as the kinds of unanswered questions that followed Augustine throughout the rest of his career.
Cooper's concludes with an overview of Augustine's life as a bishop (after the death of his mother, his best friend, and his son) and some of his actions, particularly with regard to controversial issues such as the dealing with the Donatists (an officially heretical group still in vogue in northern Africa). Cooper gives some discussion of major issues and writings in Augustine's life post-'Confessions', but given the massive amount of work Augustine produced, this could be in Cooper's book little more than a sampler and outline.
One might wish for a few more chapters to give depth to the issues in Augustine's later works, including some of his sermons, biblical studies, and his work in the massive 'City of God'. Hopefully the easy and energetic writing of this text will inspire readers to further study in Augustine's works, and to that end, Cooper provides suggestions for further reading, which includes brief pieces (Chadwick's 'Augustine: A Very Short Introduction') and magisterial works (Fitzgerald's 'Augustine through the Ages'), as well as the scholarly standards (Brown's 'Augustine of Hippo: A Biography'). There is a brief index as well.
The illustrations by Ron Hill give to a certain extent the same kind of comedic pause in the drama that a short scene by a fool would give in a Shakespearean play - never detracting from the text, they highlight certain points while relieving the reader in key spots of any monotony of text-on-page that might be developing. Hill has also illustrated other 'Armchair Theologian' volumes.