De civitate Dei

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De civitate Dei , 1470

De civitate Dei ( Latin for "From the State of God", also translated from (From) the Citizenship of God and The Citizenship of God ) is a scripture written by Augustine between 413 and 426 . In 22 books Augustine developed the idea of ​​the state of God (civitas dei / caelestis) , which stands in permanent opposition to the earthly state (civitas terrena) .


In 410 the Visigoths conquered and sacked Rome (see Sacking Rome ). This event called into question the equation of the Christianized Roman Empire with the rulership of God proclaimed by Jesus , which was held by some Christians at the time, and gave impetus to pagan views, as Quintus Aurelius Symmachus had formulated 30 years earlier in the dispute over the Victoria Altar.


The earthly state (civitas terrena) appears in the Augustinian representation partly as a God-willed temporal order power, partly as a realm of evil ruled by anti-divine forces . The state of God (civitas dei / caelestis) , on the other hand, manifests itself in the individual Christians who live according to the religious commandments. From this dialectical basic idea, Augustine outlines a comprehensive history of the world and salvation . This design was extremely influential throughout the Middle Ages up to Martin Luther .

Augustine also goes into the philosophy of antiquity . Among other things, he writes about the contrast between the Stoa , Epicureanism and Plato's theory of the migration of souls . He also says that despite their struggle for the truth, the philosophers did not find the way to happiness.

By emphasizing that the Church and the Christian faith are independent of the existence of the Roman Empire , Augustine no longer depends on the ideas of antiquity. Augustine is therefore considered to be one of the first post-antiquity thinkers who paved the way for Christianity into the new age of the Middle Ages.

See also

Web links

Digital copies


  • Augustine: De civitate Dei. The city of god. Edited by Patrick G. Walsh , 6 volumes, Oxford 2005–2014.
  • Augustine: About the God state. Complete edition in one volume. Book 1 to 10, book 11 to 22. Dtv, 2007, ISBN 978-3-423-34393-0 .


  • Hans Urs von Balthasar : Augustine, The Citizenship (De Civitate Dei). Edited and introduced by Hans Urs von Balthasar. From the Latin. Fischer library, Frankfurt am Main / Hamburg 1961.
  • Christoph Horn (Ed.): Augustinus. De civitate dei (= interpreting classics. Volume 11). Akademie Verlag, Berlin 1997, ISBN 3-05-002871-8 .
  • Michael Eckert, Gerhard Ebeling (ed.): Lexicon of theological works . Stuttgart 2003, ISBN 3-520-49301-2 , pp. 145-147.
  • Volker Henning Drecoll (Ed.): Augustin Handbook . Tübingen 2007, pp. 347-363.