Review: Contemplation and Christianity

John Peter Kenney’s latest book is an account of how the interpretation of scripture became a quotidian practice of contemplation for Augustine. While he styles Contemplation and Classical Christianity as a prequel to his The Mysticism of Saint Augustine: Rereading the Confessions (2005), ‘prequel’ undersells the novelty of Kenney’s ‘study inAugustine’. Some of the contours of Kenney’s approach are not unique. While there are scant references to the scholarly literature, two debts seem particularly salient. First, he seems, at least tacitly, to accept Carol Harrison’s narrative of continuity: Augustine was decidedly a Catholic Christian very soon after his conversion and any modification took place within that tradition (e.g. p. 44). Second, and again only tacitly, Kenney seems to follow certain strategies pioneered by Lewis Ayres and Michel René Barnes’ ‘Pro-Nicene’ or ‘New Canon’ readings: Augustine is informed by a previous Latin Catholic tradition whose theological heart pulses with the blood of scripture (p. 164).

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