Augustine and Nicene Theology: Essays on Augustine and the Latin Argument for Nicaea

By Michel René Barnes

A review of Augustine’s thought in the context of the Latin fathers and Nicaea.



In this collection of essays, Augustine and Nicene Theology, Michel René Barnes offers a new reading of the character and development of Latin Trinitarian theology in the fourth and fifth centuries. Although Augustine is the principal focus, he is treated here as an inheritor of an earlier Latin tradition. Antecedent theologians, most notably including Marius Victorinus, are given a revised interpretation, and Augustine himself is explored from multiple angles.

At every turn, developments in Augustine’s thought are shown to be a response to the anti-Nicene theologies of the period. Most significantly, this view decries the modern ‘systematic’ tendency to engage with Augustine only though a simplified version of late-nineteenth-century categories. This accusation invites the question of how far modern theology can actually engage with Patristic theology at all, but Barnes offers a way forward.

Additional information

Dimensions 254 × 178 mm
Pages 348

Trade Information JPOD

About the Author

Michel René Barnes was for many years Associate Professor of Theology at Marquette University. He is also Director of the Augustine Agency and Research Library in Milwaukee.



1. Augustine in Contemporary Trinitarian Theology
2. De Régnon Reconsidered
3. Early Latin Trinitarian Theology
4. The Forms of Latin Theology
5. Other Latin Nicenes
6. Marius Victorinus
7. Rereading Augustine’s Trinitarian Theology
8. Exegesis and Polemic in De Trinitate
9. The Arians of Book V and the Genre of De Trinitate
10. The Visible Christ and the Invisible Trinity
11. De Trinitate VI and VII
12. Augustine’s Last Pneumatology
13. Ebion at the Barricades

Name and Subject Index
Scripture Index


Endorsements and Reviews

Scholarship on Augustine’s Trinitarian theology has undergone a sea change. This wonderful collection provides us with some of the brilliant essays by means of which Michel’s work played a fundamental role in washing away the old paradigms, and it enables us to trace the process by which Michel’s work has gradually explored the rich and strange new landscape that is still emerging. Scholars of early Christian theology and modern theologians all need this book thrust before them. Lewis Ayres, Durham University and Australian Catholic University

This volume is the fruit of decades of scrupulous and often inspired scholarship. There is perhaps always more to be said about Augustine, but very few students of his writings continue to unearth theological riches as reliably as Barnes does. This book is a significant contribution to our understanding of the most consequential epoch in the history of Christian thought. David Bentley Hart, author of That All Shall Be Saved: Heaven, Hell, and Universal Salvation

These essays represent some of the richest and most profound work on the theology of the Trinity in our time. They are indispensable for the study of Augustine and will be an inspiration for anyone interested in the renewal of historical theology today. Highly recommended! John Cavadini, University of Notre Dame

Now in a collected form, Barnes’s essays most usefully show how Augustine and his predecessors must be more thoroughly contextualized within the theological-historical stream of pro-Nicene Latin theology. . . . The serious student of Augustine today cannot avoid the force of Barnes’s conclusions and will find in them a necessary set of correctives upon which future portraits of Augustine can be structured. D.H. Williams, Baylor University

In these masterful and edgy essays, Michel Barnes rescues Augustine from the zombiedom of neo-Scholastic Platonism and restores him to a vibrantly Latin tradition of reflection on the God who is Trinity. This is not a game of historical nicety. Barnes wars against modern moralism and its retrospective refusal to treat Scripture as an intellectual idiom. He is that rarest of intellectuals: a faithful reader. James Wetzel, Villanova University