“In Augustine and His World, Andrew Knowles and Pachomious Penkett give us an engaging portrait of one of the greatest fathers of the church. Their Augustine is not a disembodied bishop who is plucked from ancient North Africa and crammed into a modern mind. Knowles and Penkett, rather, are scrupulous in their presentation of Augustine as an exemplar of the church and world of his day.
“The approach of the book is chronological, beginning with an honest picture of North Africa at the time Augustine was born. We are then led through the principal episodes of Augustine’s life and development. Finally, the authors provide a brief but representative picture of Augustine’s legacy.
“One of the book’s greatest assets is its organization and layout. Though the text could easily stand on its own, it is enhanced by the inclusion of full color photographs, margin quotations, and meaty sidebar articles. But even with these resources, the book is paperback and small enough for me to carry in my inside jacket pocket.
“The text drives the reader forward and makes for easy reading. The richness of Augustine’s personality, however, makes for fertile fodder for reflection even while the book is on the shelf. Knowles and Penkett give us their thesis in their introduction. ‘Augustine’s ideas are a bridge spanning the gulf between the ancient and medieval worlds, from Aristotle to Anselm. His spiritual quest and ability to express his thoughts reach right to our own day. One prayer in particular that sprang from Augustine’s passionate and inquiring soul, ‘Our heart is restless until it rests in you’, seems to be as pertinent now as it was when it was expressed 16 centuries ago.’ (p. 7)
“Though the best window into Augustine’s soul is his own impressive corpus of writings, Knowles and Penkett have provided us with a wonderful little primer on Augustine. If you are already an Augustine scholar, you may not find much new in this book. I, having only read Confessions and City of God, found much in this book to commend itself to me. The beginner or the dabbler with easily find in Augustine and His World a very pleasant companion. This book is part of a series by Intervarsity Press called the ‘IVP Histories.’ I hope it is a portent of things to come.” – Charles Lehmann, Christian Book Previews.com
Augustine is one of the giants of the Christian church. From his birth in North Africa and his days as a relatively permissive young man, through his midlife conversion to Christianity and career as bishop of Hippo, Augustine's story has intrigued and inspired every generation for more than 1,600 years.
It is as a thinker, teacher, writer and debater that Augustine has exerted the most influence. His greatness lay in his ability to relate the philosophies of Ancient Greece and Rome to the precepts of the Christian faith. Augustine also saved the church itself from disintegrating into rival factions by forging sound doctrine in the fires of controversy.
In Augustine and His World Andrew Knowles and Pachomios Penkett tell the story of Augustine's life. They help readers to understand the world he came from and the enormous contribution he made to the church both of his day and of the future.