On Free Choice of the Will, Paperback Book
3.5 out of 5 (2 ratings)


Translated with an uncanny sense for the overall point of Augustine's doctrine.

In short, a very good translation. The Introduction is admirably clear.--Paul Vincent Spade, Indiana University


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Hackett Publishing Co, Inc
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Literary essays
  • ISBN: 9780872201880

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Since it can be agreed upon by most that God is the Creator of all things, where do the circumstances of evil committed by His creation fall into His ultimate plan? Augustine’s argument with Evodius in regard to the use of man’s free-will for evil purposes attempts to display that every good thing has in fact been given by God; free-will included. Augustine’s primary thesis is that all good things come from one Creator (XVII). The purpose is to take the reader through a series of arguments between Augustine and Evodius as they discuss whether free-will is [1] good and [2] if used for evil is from God. Augustine “was a classically trained rhetorician who used his skill to eloquently proclaim at length the superiority of Christian culture over Greco-Roman culture, and he also served as one of the central figures by whom the latter was transformed and transmitted to the former.” Augustine’s views became somewhat of a paradox. This can be clearly attributed to the conflicting notions and beliefs from a plethora of philosophies including Hellenists, Epicureans, Stoics, Skeptics, and Neo-Platonists. Add to this assortment the varying degrees of orthodoxy within Christianity and unorthodox Gnostic sects of Manicheans, and you have an Abundance of beliefs which reveal themselves through his writings. There is little doubt that Augustine used the methodologies from his previous experiences to influence this work. It is certain, though, that his foundational manuscript for this writing was Scripture itself. In summary, Evodius, a “vigorous interlocutor and lively objector” (ix), asks a series of questions establishing dialogue between Augustine and himself. These questions take the reader on a search to discern mankind’s role in regard to the will. In comparison with other works on the subject of free-will (i.e. Luther’s Bondage of the Will, Erasmus’, Diatribe Concerning Free Will, Calvin’s, Institutes, etc.), the primary focus and foundational work should be on that of Scripture. Though not all the claims of Augustine are clearly congruent with God’s Word, the majority are. For the purposes of my own knowledge and research, Augustine’s work has proven invaluable. He clearly examined and explained his findings regarding the initial thesis. Though some material presented itself as redundant, the journey to seek the truth found its destination.

Review by

The version I read of this was missing portions of Austine's writtings as it was part of my text book - so I feel I am cheating by posting that I read this. But regardless of scholastic edits, a truly timeless piece that attempts to answer the centuries old question of why does God let evil things happen/exist?

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