Books that Matter: The City of God

Watch Books that Matter: The City of God

  • 2016
  • 1 Season

Books that Matter: The City of God is an extraordinary lecture series presented by Professor Charles Mathewes from The Great Courses Signature Collection. The show is a must-watch for anyone who is interested in history, theology, philosophy, and the intersection of these fields.

The central focus of the show is St. Augustine's magnum opus, The City of God, which is one of the most influential works of Western literature. In this book, Augustine discusses the relationship between the City of God and the City of Man and highlights how these two cities coexist in the world. Throughout the series, Professor Mathewes engages with Augustine's ideas, provides historical contexts and presents an insightful analysis that helps the viewers appreciate the richness of this masterpiece.

The show is presented as a 24-episode series, and each lecture runs between 25 and 30 minutes. The lectures are well-structured, and Professor Mathewes speaks with clarity and warmth. His command of the subject matter is remarkable, and he presents his ideas in a way that is accessible to anyone regardless of their educational background.

One of the things that stand out about the show is the way Professor Mathewes contextualizes Augustine's work. He shows how The City of God reflects the historical moment in which it was written, namely the collapse of the Roman Empire and the rise of Christianity. He also highlights the key themes of the book such as happiness, justice, and the nature of human choice.

In addition to providing historical context, Professor Mathewes weaves philosophical and theological debates into the discussion. He explores the tensions between Augustine's work and pagan philosophy, such as Stoicism and Epicureanism. He also discusses how Augustine's ideas have evolved throughout history, from the Middle Ages to modern times.

One of the benefits of the series is the visual aids that help viewers understand Augustine's thought. The series features stunning animations and graphics that are both engaging and informative. These visual aids enhance the viewer's understanding of Augustine's theories and ideas.

Overall, Books That Matter: The City of God is an exceptional show that explores one of the most important works of Western literature. Professor Mathewes does an excellent job of contextualizing Augustine's work, highlighting his key themes, and presenting a cogent analysis of this complex masterpiece. This series is a must-watch for anyone who wants to understand the intellectual history of the Western world, and the way Augustine's ideas have shaped our modern world.

Books that Matter: The City of God is a series that is currently running and has 1 seasons (24 episodes). The series first aired on October 21, 2016.

Books that Matter: The City of God
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The City of God's Journey through History
24. The City of God's Journey through History
October 21, 2016
Much has happened in the world after The City of God's publication, from the Vandals besieging Hippo in Northern Africa and the fall of Rome to what is arguably the end of Christendom in our modern era. In this final lecture, take a look at Augustine's impact on history and his continued relevance to our lives today.
The City of God as a Single Book
23. The City of God as a Single Book
October 21, 2016
The City of God is so searching, so wide reaching, so vast and so coherent that it has few rivals as an achievement of the human mind. Now that you have explored the entire text, step back and consider the book as a whole. Examine some of its key themes and what Augustine may have wanted us to take away from the book.
Heaven: The Self Redeemed (Book 22)
22. Heaven: The Self Redeemed (Book 22)
October 21, 2016
Now turn from the nature of Hell to the nature of Heaven. Here, review Augustine's account of Heaven, his vision of the final fulfilled state of the human, and the realization of God. See how he works to resolve one of theology's key puzzles, the tension between here and there, Earth and Heaven.
Augustine's Vision of Hell (Book 21)
21. Augustine's Vision of Hell (Book 21)
October 21, 2016
Shift your attention from the end of the world to what happens after we die. Professor Mathewes delves into the deep questions of damnation: Why does Augustine believe Hell is real? What is the nature of suffering in Hell? And why does God mete out an eternal punishment for a temporal crime?
Judgments, Last and Otherwise (Book 20)
20. Judgments, Last and Otherwise (Book 20)
October 21, 2016
We have reached the last section of The City of God. If Book 19 was about worldly wisdom, then Book 20 is about other-worldly wisdom. Reflect on the meaning and purpose of the Last Judgment. Our world and its ultimate end may be obscure, but Augustine shows how to begin thinking about these matters.
Happiness and Politics (Book 19)
19. Happiness and Politics (Book 19)
October 21, 2016
In Augustine's view, we are living in an "epilogue" to history. The Fall and the Resurrection have occurred, and we are awaiting the Last Judgment. In this lecture, you'll encounter The City of God's most worldly book, in which Augustine expounds on how we are meant to live in this interim period. Explore his view of politics, happiness, and world peace.
Translating the Imperium (Book 18)
18. Translating the Imperium (Book 18)
October 21, 2016
Once Augustine completes his survey of history, one big question remains: Once all the worldly empires, including Rome, have fallen, what next? If the earthly city's days are over, how do we transition to the heavenly city? How do we translate the past into the future? Find out what Augustine has to say about carrying on.
Augustine's Scriptural History (Books 15-17)
17. Augustine's Scriptural History (Books 15-17)
October 21, 2016
In Books 15 to 17, Augustine begins to tell the history of the world through the lens of the Christian Bible. Scholars tend to overlook these books, but as you'll discover, they not only provide a remarkably complete history of the ancient world, they also provide a new picture of our place in the world, as well as a new way of understanding our history.
The Two Cities and the Two Loves (Book 14)
16. The Two Cities and the Two Loves (Book 14)
October 21, 2016
Continue your study of original sin and what it implies about how we should live in this earthly world. Here, Augustine conjures up two cities--the city of flesh and the city of God--and shows how our key challenges on Earth are rooted in our psychology, in our orientation toward the world.
Augustine and Original Sin (Book 13)
15. Augustine and Original Sin (Book 13)
October 21, 2016
Settle into a powerful analysis of original sin, the condition humans inherited from Adam and Eve after the Fall. Professor Mathewes shows that while Augustine's vision may seem bleak on the surface--with people as zombies roaming the earth in living death--it is ultimately an encouraging message for the way it points toward grace.
Fall of the Rebel Angels (Book 12)
14. Fall of the Rebel Angels (Book 12)
October 21, 2016
Revisit the problem of evil as a reaction against the good of creation. Why would the rebel angels deny the good and allow themselves to fall? And what does Augustine's view of evil mean for humanity, beginning with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden? Explore Augustine's vision and consider its implications.
Metaphysics of Creation and Evil (Book 11)
13. Metaphysics of Creation and Evil (Book 11)
October 21, 2016
Now that Augustine has thoroughly critiqued Roman society, it's time to turn away from what he was arguing against and find out what he was arguing for. In this new beginning, Augustine uses biblical evidence to explore the world's creation and how God works both within and outside of time.
Augustine's Critique of Rome (Books 1-10)
12. Augustine's Critique of Rome (Books 1-10)
October 21, 2016
The City of God is arranged into two broad parts. Here at the halfway point, recap Books 1 through 10 and analyze the first half of the text as a whole. At this point, Augustine has laid the groundwork for a transition from a largely apologetic argument to something more transformative in the second half.
Sacrifice and Ritual (Book 10)
11. Sacrifice and Ritual (Book 10)
October 21, 2016
Once we understand God's immediacy and love for humanity, what next? What are humans meant to do in return? In book 10, Augustine takes aim at the transactional nature of Roman religion--offering sacrifice in return for special favors. Instead, Augustine lays out a blueprint for what religion should be like.
Who or What Is God? (Books 8-9)
10. Who or What Is God? (Books 8-9)
October 21, 2016
Of all the Roman philosophers, Augustine felt the most kinship with the Platonists, who had developed a transcendent view of God. Where they fell short, he believed, was in imagining God as a distant being, uninterested in material reality. For Augustine, God is immediate and accessible, as he argues in Books 8 and 9.
Public Religion in Imperial Rome (Books 6-7)
9. Public Religion in Imperial Rome (Books 6-7)
October 21, 2016
Turn to The City of God's next set of arguments, which in Books 6 to 10 are aimed toward Roman philosophers who had a different--if still incorrect, according to Augustine--view of religion. After studying the role of religion in Roman society, Professor Mathewes analyzes Augustine's critique of one particular philosopher, Varro.
Splendid Vices and Happiness in Hope (Book 5)
8. Splendid Vices and Happiness in Hope (Book 5)
October 21, 2016
In this lecture, you'll reach the climax of Augustine's argument toward civic-minded Romans, which answers the question of how best to pursue happiness while also being a good citizen. The answer takes you through a dazzling discussion of fate versus free will, the nature of divine providence, the errors of glory-seeking, and the tragic nature of the world.
Augustine's Political Vision (Book 4)
7. Augustine's Political Vision (Book 4)
October 21, 2016
Augustine had a clearly defined political philosophy that ran against the grain of Roman beliefs. Here, examine his view that there is no distinction between gangsters and statesmen, and that the difference between conquering and theft is merely one of perspective. Reflect on this "political realism" and what it means for the Roman state.
The Price of Empire (Books 2-3)
6. The Price of Empire (Books 2-3)
October 21, 2016
Continue your study of Augustine's argument toward civic-minded Romans by reviewing his attacks on their morality and their sense of self-regard. Using their own historians as evidence, Augustine teases out the logical and psychological implications of the Romans' quest for domination, which Augustine says is born out of a longing for transcendent joy.
The Problem of Suffering (Book 1)
5. The Problem of Suffering (Book 1)
October 21, 2016
Book 1 opens by addressing civic-minded Roman citizens looking for happiness in this life--a mistake, Augustine believes. By exploring the problem of evil and questions of suffering and suicide, you'll discover how Augustine's approach toward life differs from the Roman view, yet is arguably more life affirming and even therapeutic.
Augustine's Pagan and Christian Audience
4. Augustine's Pagan and Christian Audience
October 21, 2016
Before delving into the text of The City of God, Professor Mathewes sets the stage with some context about the many audiences that Augustine was writing for, as well as the arguments against Christians that he was confronting. See how Augustine co-opted Roman notions of "city" and "glory" and applied them to his divine purpose.
The Sack of Rome, 410 A.D.
3. The Sack of Rome, 410 A.D.
October 21, 2016
While Roman elites viewed the sack of Rome as a turning point that changed the world forever, the event itself lasted only three days and served more as a catalyst for change than a cataclysm in its own right. In this lecture, you'll find out why the sack was so monumental, and how it inspired Augustine to write The City of God.
Who Was Augustine of Hippo?
2. Who Was Augustine of Hippo?
October 21, 2016
Examine the paradoxical life of Augustine: Who was he? Why is he such an important historical figure? You'll be surprised that much of what we may associate with him, such as his metaphysical dualism and his antidemocratic adherence to Church law, is mistaken. Here, you'll uncover the real Augustine--and find a man not so unlike ourselves.
Your Passport to The City of God
1. Your Passport to The City of God
October 21, 2016
The City of God is a monumental work--not just for its scale and structure, but for what it asks of us as readers. In this first lecture, dive into the many layers of this powerful book, surveying why Augustine wrote it, for whom, and what impact it still has on our world today.
Where to Watch Books that Matter: The City of God
Books that Matter: The City of God is available for streaming on the The Great Courses Signature Collection website, both individual episodes and full seasons. You can also watch Books that Matter: The City of God on demand at Amazon Prime, Amazon, Kanopy and Hoopla.
  • Premiere Date
    October 21, 2016