Henry Chadwick --> reviewed by Marc M. Arkin -->

In late August of A.D. 430, as the Vandals massed outside the city walls, the bishop of the provincial North African town of Hippo lay dying. His last instruction to his monastic companions, we are told, was to “see that the church library and all the books are carefully preserved for posterity.” At least since the sack of Rome by Alaric in 410, he had labored under a presentiment that the classical world that he had known was “growing old and waning as an earthly kingdom.”

During the intervening years, he began to write consciously for future generations, although even he did not foresee how imminent was the utter collapse of Roman society. That collapse gave his...


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