on 30 October 2013
Augustine is not only a giant of the Christian tradition, but indeed the Western tradition. This, one of his lesser read works - behind Confessions, City of God, Enchiridion and perhaps On the Trinity - was started early in his Christian career, and completed after a hiatus of over thirty years. It is essentially a handbook on biblical interpretation, and has lasting value as such, however his skill as a rhetorician - honed teaching rhetoric in north Africa and Italy for more than a decade before his conversion to Christianity - is in itself worth paying close attention to in this volume. Behind the early chapters in particular, Augustine's underlying hermeneutic of love is abundantly evident, and a valuable exhortation for biblical interpreters and preachers today.
This is an accessible translation of a relatively slim volume, divided into four 'books', with a helpful introduction for those new to Augustine. Both for those with a high view of Augustine, and those more critical of his legacy in ecclesiology, theological anthropology (for example, his strong and profoundly influential formulation of original sin) sacramentalism and other areas, this is nevertheless a book worthy of reflection. Love him or not, here is much here to be admired and learned from one of the giants of theological history.