Font of Life: Ambrose, Augustine, and the Mystery of Baptism


Product Details

$23.99  $22.31
Oxford University Press, USA
Publish Date
5.7 X 8.4 X 0.9 inches | 0.7 pounds

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About the Author

Garry Wills is the author of many books, including Bomb Power, What Jesus Meant, Why I Am a Catholic, Papal Sin, and Lincoln at Gettysburg, winner of the Pulitzer Prize.


"Unusually instructive...But he does more than bring us down from the fairy-tale roof of the Duomo of Milan (the usual goal of tourists) to the ruins that now lie hidden beneath the ground. He takes us for a vertiginous drop of almost 1,800 years into a Christianity profoundly different from our own." --New York Review of Books

"Wills shows where Ambrose and Augustine differed from each other in theology, temperament, and even ritual preference. He engagingly offers insight into the religion, politics, and culture of the time." -- Library Journal

"A small masterpiece of exposition." --Booklist

"A well-researched and fascinating historical look at Ambrose, Augustine, and the sacrament of baptism." --Publishers Weekly

"Garry Wills is as deft and compelling when he untangles the ideas and politics of the age of Augustine as when he writes about John Wayne or Abraham Lincoln. This is a work of fresh and genuinely original scholarship told with verve and a keen sense of why the issues of fourth-century Milan still matter today."--James J. O'Donnell, Georgetown University

"The font in the Milan baptistery where Ambrose baptized Augustine at Easter 387 provides the setting for Garry Wills's dramatic evocation of the relations between two of the most powerful and influential figures in the early Christian church. He reveals the personal and theological distance that separated them in the years before and after the baptism. Wills's depiction of Augustine's confrontation with Ambrose is like a magnificent diptych in which the figures take on shifting forms and colors as the light changes. This is a nuanced, perceptive, and utterly persuasive account of two great men."--G. W. Bowersock, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton

"The author's affection for his subjects fills out the human picture...The book surveys the intersection of the lives of two of the Latin patriarchs who left great, if different, marks on the church. It explores theology with narrative flow. It makes serious points with grace."--America

"An interesting and evocative addition to Wills's impressive corpus." -- Christian Century

""Font of Life is an engaging read as well as a provocative contribution to the scholarship of Ambrose and Augustine. Like all good histories, it combines a thorough knowledge of period and personality with a spark of imaginative creativity. All who seek to know more about Ambrose and Augustine or who want to delve deeper into the late antique world in which they lived and wrote would do well to take up this book. It does not disappoint." --Books and Culture