Making sense of history: Henri-Irénée Marrou's theological scope

Bárbara Díaz

Research output: Contribution to journalScientific reviewpeer-review


HENRI-IRÉNÉE MARROU is a well-known French historian, who lived between the years 1904 and 1977. He specialized in late Antiquity and early Middle Ages, and wrote extensively about the Fathers of the Church, particularly St. Augustine. Among his works are De la connaissance historique, in which he examines history and its challenges; Théologie de l’histoire, which analyzes the global problems of history and time from the point of view of a Christian historian; Histoire de l’éducation dans l’Antiquité; and Décadence romaine ou Antiquité tardive.
The aim of this article is to describe Marrou’s vision of the meaning of history, a vision that takes its fundamental elements from his Catholic faith, but is also shaped by his personal commitments as a citizen in his own time and place.To achieve this aim, I have studied his Théologie de l’histoire, but also some other of his writings, especially L’ambivalence du temps chez Saint Augustin and his article “Tristesse de l’historien.” After a short introduction sketching Marrou’s life and work, I will explain his critiques to those who forget the eschatological dimension of faith and to some philosophers, who pretend to know the laws of history or, on the contrary, think that history is nonsensical. Secondly, I will develop the main lines of Marrou’s [End Page 113] arguments: the responsibility in the building of the civitas terrena; the coexistence of good and evil in this world; and the renewal of eschatology. In all of these, the influence of Augustine’s teachings is clear and acknowledged by Marrou.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)113-136
Number of pages24
JournalLogos (United States)
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2016


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