Augustine as a Mentor, Edward L. Smither

Book Report/Review
Religion and Theology
Pages 4 (1004 words)
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Augustine as a Mentor by Edward L. Smither. Nashville, TN: B & H Academic, 2008. 264 pp, $17.99 paperback. Edward L. Smither is a professor of Intercultural Studies at Colombia International University who writes academic books on theological subjects. His study on the renowned Christian scholar Augustine of Hippo provides a new slant on an age-old theme: the nurturing of Christians so that they themselves in turn become able to nurture others.


In the first chapter he explains that the figure of Augustine interests him so much because of the impact that this man had on other spiritual leaders of his generation. He was, in effect, a pastor to other pastors, and his writings serve as a set of textbooks which other spiritual leaders can use as they prepare themselves for the many challenges of ministering to other people. It is this role as a leader of the next generation of leaders that fascinates the author. The language of the book is easy to read, and not too technical either in theological or pedagogical terms. Chapter two describes the early Christian mentoring matrix which includes the work of metropolitan bishops in charge of different regions in the third and fourth centuries. These men allocated mentoring tasks to specific individuals and set up church councils in order to bring leaders together and allow them to support each other in their difficult work. They also compiled educational texts which offered guidance on moral issues as well as theology and the avoidance of heresy. This is a sensible start to the book, which locates the issues firmly in the early history of the Christian church. ...
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