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Augustine on War and Military Service [Paperback]

Phillip Wynn

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Book Description

1 Nov 2013
Did our modern understanding of just war originate with Augustine? In this sweeping reevaluation of the evidence, Phillip Wynn uncovers a nuanced story of Augustine s thoughts on war and military service, and gives us a more complete and complex picture of this important topic. Deeply rooted in the development of Christian thought this reengagement with Augustine is essential reading.

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This worthwhile and ambitious study insists that we look beyond legal and theological traditions of just war theory to the historical context of the later Roman Empire for an understanding of its origins. Picking up on other scholars discomfort with the notion of Augustine as the originator of a coherent, more or less complete doctrine of just war, Wynn ranges widely across late antiquity for earlier as well as alternative voices. In so doing, he stakes out a number of areas for future debate, debate which this important topic well deserves. --Kevin Uhalde, Ohio University

Beginning in the Middle Ages writers selectively combed Augustine s writings for comments on war and military service, turning him into the founder of ideas about just war. Phillip Wynn painstakingly puts Augustine s words back into their original contexts and draws very different and surprising conclusions. --Thomas F. X. Noble, University of Notre Dame

About the Author

Phillip Wynn completed his Ph.D. at Notre Dame under the direction of Thomas F. X. Noble and has been awarded a fellowship as Fulbright scholar in residence at Ben Gurion University in Beersheva, Israel. He has published articles on historiography and the history of ideas in the late antique and early medieval periods.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
5.0 out of 5 stars Just War Theory - An End to the Debate 17 Aug 2014
By Fred Guyton - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
I am not an historian but have a rather eclectic reading list. I read this book recently and was impressed by its scholarship and even more by the story it tells... actually, its more about the story it debunks. Wynn gives us first) not an historical version of the "just war" theory but rather a detailed picture of Augustine's writings related to war and military service since it is Augustine to whom the theory is attributed, and second) the actual context of where such "just war" roots really came from and [SPOILER ALERT] it wasn't Augustine but rather different factions of the Roman empire trying to justify their civil wars to the people. So while Wynn is either too nice or too politic to put it so bluntly, the entire "just war" theory, if it really exists in terms of morally justifying a war, is a modern construct in search of some made up history attached to respected theologians in order to make it seem part of our inherited culture, and if that theologian can be part of the Christian history, so much the better.

With respect to the prose, I found Wynn's style easy to read and was often entertained by subtle but pointed witticisms. If you have an interest in history and especially Christianity and the Roman empire, I think you'll enjoy this book.
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