Review of Eric L. Jenkins, Free to Say No? Free Will and Augustine’s Evolving Doctrines of Grace and Election (Cambridge: James Clarke & Co., 2013)

Seamus O'Neill

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Eric Jenkins’ Free to Say No? Free Will and Augustine’s Evolving Doctrines of Grace and Election is a relatively concise and highly readable investigation into Augustine’s changing position on the freedom of the will and various related doctrines. The author approaches the question historically, tracing the development of Augustine’s views throughout a number of primary sources, from which he provides ample quotations, all the while incorporating much of the important secondary literature on the topic. While the author does not claim to make any new or ground-breaking advances, he nevertheless adds to the scholarship his own arguments and exegesis in support of the view that Augustine’s mature position on the freedom of the will, which he identifies as a kind of compatibilism, is irreconcilably opposed to Augustine’s earlier, more libertarian position. The author also explores various philosophical, theological, and historical reasons for Augustine’s change of heart, and presents them in a clear and lively manner.

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