Did our modern understanding of just war originate with Augustine? In this sweeping reevaluation of the evidence, Phillip Wynn uncovers a nuanced story of Augustine’s thoughts on war and military service, and gives us a more complete and complex picture of this important topic.
“This worthwhile and ambitious study insists that we look beyond legal and theological traditions of just war theory to the historical context of the later Roman Empire for an understanding of its origins. Picking up on other scholars’ discomfort with the notion of Augustine as the originator of a coherent, more or less complete doctrine of just war, Wynn ranges widely across late antiquity for earlier as well as alternative voices. In so doing, he stakes out a number of areas for future debate, debate which this important topic well deserves.”
“Beginning in the Middle Ages writers selectively combed Augustine’s writings for comments on war and military service, turning him into the founder of ideas about just war. Phillip Wynn painstakingly puts Augustine’s words back into their original contexts and draws very different and surprising conclusions.”
Thomas F. X. Noble
University of Notre Dame