The City of God - Augustine of Hippo, Marcus Dods I stumbled across Augustine when I was teenager and I remember this being much more profound. Having just reread it cover to cover, I was wholly disappointed. Augustine writes in response to attacks on Christianity for which the decline of the Roman Empire is being increasingly blamed. The first half of the book criticizes, effectively, the irrationality of pagan belief. However, he fails to turn the same clear-eyed analysis to Christianity. In one of the more painfully oblivious passages, Augustine writes:
These fables… are so skillfully invented by men as to involve no scandal to the gods. But whoever have pretended as to Jupiter’s rape of Ganymede, a very beautiful boy, that King Tantalus committed the crime, and the fable ascribed to Jupiter; or as to impregnating Danae as a golden shower, that it means that the woman’s virtue was corrupted by gold: whether these things were really done or only fabled in those days, or were really done by others and falsely ascribed to Jupiter, it is impossible to tell how much wickedness must have been taken for granted in men's hearts that they should be thought able to listen to such lies with patience. pg. 560.
Whereas Augustine writes in his Confessions that biblical interpretation may have many meanings, he engages in a very literal analysis for the second half of the book. Starting with a bedrock belief that biblical history is true and accurate, he builds layer after layer of biblical truth upon that unexamined foundation. Augustine adopts the Platonic philosophical traditions which support the existence of the soul and faults of paganism, but then readily discards philosophy as a whole for not able to achieve the quested true happiness for which it is engaged. Happiness is only found in accepting God. All inconsistencies and faults in Christianity are cured by faith that God is all powerful and can make all things come to pass. Which begs the question of why we should engage in any rational evaluation of anything since God’s will/power trumps all? It makes Augustine’s efforts to extrapolate meaning from biblical works a vain and futile exercise in human rationality.

Christians starting from the same principles as Augustine will probably find much to like about this work. For those of us not starting with the same assumptions of biblical authority, it is a tedious read.