Its shimmering language, soaring aspirations and striking self-disclosure, serve a sizzling Christian spirituality. Its pages are simultaneously sweeping and intimate, strange and endearing, blush-inducing and head-scratching. Ever ancient and ever new, something new appears every time I pick it up.
Not that I can go with Augustine on everything; his vision at times can seem oddly incomplete, and some of his premises inescapably alien; some passages, I must confess, just sound crazy. But Augustine remains the Babe Ruth of Christian antiquity; even if he strikes out a lot, at the critical moment he hits the massive home run that wins the game.
No other book quite compares with Confessions, from ancient times to our own. Confessions is a difficult book that demands from its readers both tremendous investment and thoughtful sympathy.
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The book is clearly a self-construction, a rhetorical performance with an agenda to persuade. The divide among scholars about whether or not this betrays disingenuousness may depend more on post-Enlightenment perceptions of rhetoric than on Augustine himself. Asking about the historical Augustine behind the text is obviously important and necessary, but not, for me anyway, particularly interesting. Confessions is multifaceted, a book that works simultaneously in different tiers, philosophical, dialectical, mystical, exegetical, social, theological.
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It is at once an apologetic for faith, a personal defense, a spiritual pilgrimage, a psycho-spiritual tutorial, a theological narrative on grace and providence, an enticement to spiritual conversion, and more. The first is a question of theology: how does the divine cross over from eternity to time? The second is a question of literature: how does a story cross over from narration to meaning? The third is a question of hermeneutics: how does a text cross over from page to life? The quote of Romans at this climactic moment in the narrative briefly and figuratively suggests resolution of two structurally central theological questions of Confessions as outlined by Frederick J.
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But that answer set up a second question that concerns the second part of Confessions Books , a simple one that a child might ask: If God is beyond us, how does God speak in a way that we can understand? It is the core truth about the function of Scripture as word of God. He wrote that some "may say it was sinful of me to allow myself to occupy a chair of lies even for one hour. Due to the nature of Confessions, it is clear that Augustine was not only writing for himself but that the work was intended for public consumption. Confessions thus constitutes an appeal to encourage conversion.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. This box: view talk edit. Augustine, Confessions ed. Oxford University Press. Hackett Publishing. Harmonds worth Middles ex, England: Penguin Books. Book IX, Chapter 1.
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Harmondsworth Middlesex, England: Penguin Books. Book X, Chapter 1. Book IX, Chapter 2. Introduction to Confessions. The Body and Society. New York: Columbia University Press. The Confessions of Saint Augustine. Categories : 4th-century Latin books Religious autobiographies Latin prose texts Theodosian dynasty 4th-century Christian texts Works by Augustine of Hippo. Hidden categories: Articles needing additional references from November All articles needing additional references Articles with LibriVox links.
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Catholicism portal Christianity portal Philosophy portal This box: view talk edit. Wikisource has original text related to this article: The Confessions of Saint Augustine.