The Confessions of Saint Augustine. Published by MobileReference (mobi)

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Translated by Edward Bouverie Pusey

Confessions (Latin: Confessiones) is the name of an autobiographical work, consisting of 13 books, by St. Augustine of Hippo, written between AD 397 and AD 398. Modern English translations of it are sometimes published under the title The Confessions of St. Augustine in order to distinguish the book from other books with similar titles, such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Confessions.

- Excerpted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

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Customer Reviews:

  • The Sublimity of Augustine
    Before the Reformation; before Trent made Catholicism, Roman; before Orthodoxy split with the West; there was the orthodox catholic (universal) church in its earliest form and one of the Church's best witnesses was Augustine.

    This writing, which is a humble autobiography, is the most sublime of that first Millennium, and I think - still the finest Christian autobiography. He is not unctious and he doesn't rant. He makes theology seem so easy and God so near.

    Find the answer at the beginning.

    Augustine takes us to the limit of human understanding in theology, which becomes humble obedience before the One, who still holds the great mysteries....more info

  • Beyond classification.
    Augustine on Augustine, philosophy, sex, science, skepticism, scholarship, rhetoric, vanity, humility, foolishness, wisdom, reason, the human perspective, exegetics, time, and the attributes of God. 'Confessions' is truly one of the great works of western literature and the [Oxford World's Classics] translation by Henry Chadwick beautifully retains this literary quality (and is extensively and helpfully footnoted). Written and published circa 398-400 AD, Augustine's autobiographic Confessions is an important theological treatise. It is also historically significant in its revelation of a faltering Roman society and of the convergent thinking of Judeo-Christian theology and neo-Platonic philosophy. While many of the discussions are centered on a culture from which we are 1600 years removed, they are surprisingly relevant to a western society that we see is not so different.
    Very interesting are Augustine's discussions of the physical characteristics and boundaries of 'time' -- in fact since about 1930, our 'scientific' understanding of time is, in some important aspects, identical to Augustine's. This is a subject with which every theist should be familiar ['time' is on their side, so to speak], yet, like others more concerned with what's on TV tonight, most are woefully ignorant. Of further interest (from the standpoint of apologetics) is Augustine's destruction of "linguistic paradoxes" which atheists and agnostics claimed (and still do claim) to prove God's non-existence. These arguments, which Augustine calls "jokes", must be waged against an erroneous characterization of "god". The arguments defeat only a temporally bounded "god", a humanized 'smarty-pants' version of God, which is something that, by definition, God is certainly not. The supposed 'paradox' arguments prove merely that no human-like being could be God, that nothing fully contained by space-time could be God, that no finite consciousness could be infinite (i.e., omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, and unchanging). In other words: not God equals not God. That humans pose such feeble arguments against God, and think them profound, is an example of what Augustine calls "learned ignorance."
    Augustine's exegesis of Genesis 1 is very well considered, and supported, and varies vastly from so-called literalist interpretations. Much like Philo 400 years earlier, Augustine concludes that the language of Genesis 1 is carefully constructed so as to make a fully "literal" understanding of Creation unknowable. Although less than is its Creator, the acts of Creation are a wonderful mystery beyond "slower minds." While he clearly holds scripture to be without error, Augustine says that error-prone human minds are quick to over-simplify, misunderstand, and misrepresent the mysteries of an infinite God so far beyond the minds of men. Augustine understands Genesis 1 as both an introductory and advanced study of theology, and not as a text for 'Creation Science'. He points out that if references to God Himself in Genesis 1 are interpreted as literal descriptions, we must accept within the text ideas about God which cannot be reconciled to reason or Biblical theology. These relational references to God require spiritual and not physically literal understanding or else we must accept God to be bounded in space and time, a sloppy theology which cannot be reconciled to the scriptural Deity. By contrast, a spiritual [as opposed to a 'scientific'] interpretation, illuminates the nature of being and the will of "the One." Augustine says that any exegesis but that of spiritual allegory is fraught with logical difficulty within the theology of scripture and without. Aware of the depth of many Christian's commitment to what they consider to be a literal interpretation of these texts, he states that his only desire is to seek Truth and that he does not wish to quarrel or debate, as no sincere interpretation fails to acknowledge the primacy, sovereignty, and grace of the Creator. No sincere exegetic stands in conflict with the teachings of Christ -- however, conflict over interpretation is an exercise in the vanities of humans trying to prove they are "right" and such conflict might easily violate Christ's commandment of Love. He cites 5 different interpretations of Genesis 1:1 and asks seekers of truth to bring humility, not pride or comfort or esteem for popular ideas or religious traditions to the study of scripture. "Spiritual persons ... exercise spiritual judgment," says Augustine, and not "notions which they hold because of their familiarity with the fleshy order of things." While the "literalist" exegesis tends to claim that its alternative is to reject the inspiration of scripture and perhaps the very existence of the Creator, the "spiritual" exegetic holds the Creator and His works, including divine inspiration, to be beyond logical refutation, beyond human vanity, perhaps beyond human understanding, causing, and then entering space-time and the material world from [infinitely] without. Eight centuries later, Aquinas was to express a similar exegesis of Genesis 1.
    In Augustine, we find a man confronted with error: that of others, and his own shortcomings as well. We find a man much like David or Solomon; a burning intellect certain of its own inadequacy and "hungering and thirsting" for Truth. A prolific writer, Augustine is one of the most influential thinkers in western history, his thoughts being important to any study of theology, philosophy, or cosmology. His Confessions is the story of a prominent [African] Roman educator's spiritual journey to Christianity, and has been rightly called "a masterpiece beyond classification."...more info
  • Victims Don't Count
    He gets a girl pregnant, moves in with her for 15 years, and gets the urge to wander. He keeps his son, dumps the girl, and joins the church as Mommy desires. His "ex" goes back to Africa, perhaps to die as a prostitute-turned-old-beggar, and he moves on to conferred glory after conferred glory. Not the stuff of a Saint....more info
  • A mental midget
    I've written reviews of this book before. They keep getting deleted, so if you want to know what I think of this book, please e-mail me....more info
  • Thoughtful and Powerful
    This book is much much more than just an autobiography of Augustine and his road to the Christian faith. It is filled with exhortations and insight about the character of God and the nature of people. It is a book about struggling with sin and with realizing that God deserves to be Lord of every aspect of your life--and trying to live that out. It's also a story of the power of prayer, and an encouragement (through his comments about his mother) to persevere in prayer and supplication. Plus, it's just a reminder of the many wonderful aspects of who God is--because every time Augustine says something about God, he affirms something about His character. He will say something like, "God, in whom there is no darkness, has illuminated the eyes of my heart." It is both a telling of Augustine's own story, and also a story of God. This book is very dense, and packed with thoughts and ideas that must be slowly digested to really take root in our own minds. It's not a book that can or should be read quickly, it should be savored and pondered and given time for much reflection and evaluation. It's a tough book, but I do not think that you need a commentary to fully appreciate it (though an understanding of the time it was written sure wouldn't hurt). Get ready to be exhorted....more info
  • Positively Gorgeous
    No other words for me to try to describe it, but moving, gorgeous, and utterly real. The most exquisite piece of literature or philosophy I've ever encountered as an avid reader of the humanities. Read it!...more info
  • Excellent Translation
    I won't recount all the excellent reasons for reading this remarkable book. It's not a part of the Western Canon for nothing! It's a seminal work (autobiography) in a seminal field (Patristics)worth reading regardless of religious orientation, including none. What makes THIS particular version so exciting is that it is eminently readable and still quite stylized. Chadwick's eloquent translation caputes not only Augustine's ideas and thoughts, but equally important, his rhetorical skills. This alone justifies the purchase of this work. The philosophical nuances that, ironically, have entered twentieth-century thought again are very clearly articulated in Chadwick's translation. Other translations are likely to obfusicate what Chadwick elucidates. Read this great work by a great translator. I am confident you'll return to it again and again (even if you disagree with the Doctor)....more info
  • A timeless relgious classic
    'Confessions' is exactly what the title implies - the frank, open and heart-rending confessions of a troubled soul. The 'Confessions' rightly occupies a central place in Western Literature because of the breadth and depth of Augustine's thinking, his incredible theological, philosophical and psychological insight (he was admired by Wittgenstein, Husserl, Schopenhauer, and other great thinkers), his amazingly beautiful and elegant style of expression, and his remarkable power to move you to the very soul with every word, sentence and chapter. This book is a theological treatise, autobiography, series of love letters, polemics, philosophical work, and hymn to God in one. Augustine's profound and searching intellect examines his own life, from its very first memories, to his agonies and sins as a student to his tears as he hears the song of children in the street which seem to urge him to read the Bible.

    Like all true 'Great Books', this work is never exhausted and without new meaning, whether you have read it once or a dozen times. Like Conrad, Plato, Shakespeare, Dickens, Melville, Woolf and other great writers Augustine is able to capture the most profound and uplifting along with the most horrible and denigrating of this mystery we call life, from the profound heights of God to the melancholy depths of selfishness and sin. Whether you are an atheist seeking to understand what makes religious believers tick, or a Philosopher trying to understand memory and the nature of experience, or a Christian struggling with your faith, or even just a literary 'dabbler', 'The Confessions' is well worth buying and keeping very close to your bed, your coffee table, your pulpit and your bookshelf. This is a book whose beauty will not fade, and unlike a trashy pop novel whose meaning is exhausted with one reading and soon forgotten, 'Confessions' is a book that will keep giving you new strength, hope and insight with each new day that comes. ...more info
  • A True Classic
    The story of a stubborn intellectual who finds God, St. Augustine's "Confessions" rightly belongs in the western canon. This book is both a great spiritual autobiography *and* an extended, moving hymn to God. Read and enjoy!...more info
  • God Glorifying and Soul Inspiring
    Reading Augustine's Confessions is like coming face to face with the experience of my own salvation all over again. As a person who, to quote the brilliant C.S. Lewis, "was dragged kicking and screaming into the kingdom of God," this book echoed my own spiritual journey and personal experience. Though I am one of those people whom the Lord kept from many mistakes, rather than rescuing me out of them, I deeply understand Augustine's painful and arduous attempts to run from the grace of God. One is moved to tears at his brokenness over his sin before a holy God and, in a parallel manner, one rejoices gloriously along with him when he finally surrenders his soul to the love of Jesus Christ. I love this book. Its truths have no boundaries in time - not because Augustine was especially brilliant (though he undoubtedly was), but because of the great and almighty Savior he so faithfully served....more info
  • Tolle, lege
    I've long since lost the religious fervor that led me to read Augustine's Confessions for the first time some 40 years ago. But I've never tired of re-reading it, which I do every five years or so. For in addition to being an exquisitely written prayer, it's also a penetrating analysis of the human psyche. In reading the Confessions, one is invited to reflect on what it means to be a human being who longs for transcendence in a world that too often seems exclusively mundane. Reading the Confessions, one recognizes that a human life is fraught with moments of great meaning and joy but also ones of intense forlornness and self-loathing. Reading the Confessions, one gains insight into the psychology of religious conversion, mystical experience, parental-child relations, and guilt. Finally, Augustine's reflections on memory in Book X (and to a certain extent in XI) are some of the most insightful comments on the phenomenology of consciousness to be written until the twentieth century. Truly, this is a book to "tolle, lege."

    Henry Chadwick's translation is, in my judgment, the best English one going. Moreover, his Introduction nicely situates Augustine's Confessions against the backdrops of the neo-Platonism and Manicheanism that claimed him as a youth. The explanatory footnotes with which he sprinkles Augustine's texts are also very helpful. I would recommend his translation before all others for a first-time reader of the Confessions. ...more info
  • Essential classic of world literature
    This is a good translation of St Augustine's 'Confessions', one of the most important works of Christian and also world religious and philosophical thought.

    St Augustine's genius needs no advertisment. His brilliant intellect is more or less the founder of Western Christianity as we know it. Between St Paul and Aquinas, he is the most brilliant theological and philosophical mind the medieval period managed to produce. If Western philosphy is a cathedral, then Augustine is one of its capstones.

    The Confessions is a personal narrative of Augustine's life, which describes his spiritual and intellectual journey from childhood to adulthood. Augustine is such a brilliant writer he manages to capture countless facets of experience in a book which itself is only about 340 pages long (thirteen books in total) and this work also has immense range and depth, from the strange nature of free will and sin to the inner quest for the indwelling image of the Trinity, to Augustine's mystical experiences, to his dramatic conversion, to his allegorical commentary on Genesis to his ceaseless praise of God's goodness and the beauty of creation.

    Augustine is clearly influenced by several sources, especially Neo-Platonic Philosophy. Augustine read the Enneads of Plotinus in translation into Latin (thanks to Marcus Victorius, a Christian convert from Neo-Platonism) and found its concepts of God made more sense to him than that of the sect he was a member of, the Manicheans. The Manicheans, a syncretic sect who blended Buddhism, elements of Christianity, Zorastrianism and Gnosticism, and Platonism captivated Augustine for several years, seeming to provide a satisfying explanation for the baffling problem of evil. Yet Augustine, after reading Plotinus, thought the explanation of evil in terms of non-being made more sense than God making an evil world, or being ruled by an evil principle. In this sense Augustine made a crucial breakthrough in theology, not only by finding God 'within' the depths of his own soul, but also in associating God with the Platonic Good.

    Yet Augustine's strongest influence is the Bible. References to the Bible abound far more than references to Plotinus, and for Augustine, pagan thought is mostly useful for articulating truths already main plain by the Word of God. However, Augustine is always too brilliant and original thinker to merely fall into a rigid pattern of dogma he never leaves (in contrast to many more mediocre minds in the Christian tradition) and reworks his theology consistently and constantly in a creative manner.

    However the Confessions is too brilliant and profound a work to summarise in one review, and it is best if readers avail themselves to a copy of this work as soon as they can....more info
  • Take and read!
    Augustine's 'Confessions' is among the most important books ever written. One of the first autobiographical works in the modern sense, it also represents the first time a psychological and theological enterprise were combined. It also helps to bridge the gap between the Classical world and the Medieval world, exhibiting strong elements identifying with each of those major historical periods.

    Most undergraduates in the liberal arts encounter the book at some point; all seminarians do (or should!). Many adults find (or rediscover) the book later, after school. For many in these categories, there are concepts, narrative strands and historical data new and unusual for them. However, Augustine's 'Confessions' is still generally more accessible in many ways that truly classical pieces; it has interior description as well as external reporting that we are familiar with in modern writing.

    The 'Confessions' shows Augustine's personality well - he was a passionate person, but his focus wavered for much of his life until finally settling upon Christianity and the Neoplatonic synthesis with this faith. Even while remaining a passionate Christian and rejecting the sort of dualism present in the Manichee teachings, he varied between various positions within these systems. Augustine's varied thought reaches through many denominational and scholarly paradigms.

    The 'Confessions' are divided into thirteen chapters, termed 'Books' - the first ten of the books are autobiographical, with Augustine describing both events in his life as well as his philosophical and religious wanderings during the course of his life. The text is somewhat difficult to take at times, as this is writing with a purpose, as indeed most autobiographies are. The purpose here at times seems to be to paint Augustine in the worst possible light (the worse his condition, the better his conversion/salvation ends up being); at other times, one gets a sense (as one might get when reading the Pauline epistles) that there is some significant degree of ego at work here (Paul boasts of being among the better students, and so does Augustine, etc.).

    Augustine also uses his Confessions as a tract against the Manichean system - once a faithful adherent, Augustine later rejects the Manichean beliefs as heretical; however, one cannot get past the idea that Augustine retained certain of their intellectual aspects in his own constructions even while denouncing them in his official life story.

    The whole of the conversion turns on two primary books - Book Seven, his conversion to the Neoplatonic view of the world, including the metaphysics and the ethics that come along with this system; and Book 8, which describes his conversion to Christianity proper. This is where perhaps the most famous directive, 'Tolle! Lege!' ('Take and read!') comes from - Augustine heard a voice, and he picked up the nearest book, which happened to be a portion of the Pauline epistles, arguing against the undisciplined lifestyle Augustine lived. Scholars continue to debate whether Augustine's conversion to Christianity was more profound or more important than his conversion to Neoplatonism; in any event, Christianity interpreted through a Platonic framework became the norm for centuries, and remains a strong current within the Christian world view; Protestant reformers as they went back to the 'original bible' in distinction from the Catholic interpretations of the day also went back to the 'original Augustine' for much of their theology.

    The final three books are Augustine's dealing with the creation of the world via narrative stories in Genesis 1 exegetically and hermeneutically. This is very different from what is done in modern biblical scholarship, but is significant in many respects, not the least of which as it gives a model of the way Augustine dealt with biblical texts; given Augustine's towering presence over the development of Western Christianity in both Catholic and Protestant strands, understanding his methods and interpretative framework can lead to significant insights into the ideas of medieval and later church figures.

    This translation by Henry Chadwick is one of the standard editions of the book available. Chadwick, a noted scholar of early Christianity, provides a good introduction that gives synopses of the books as well as background and contextual information. This is a book that will be of interest to novice readers of Augustine as well as scholars, to students, clergy and laypersons, and anyone else who might have an historical, literary, philosophical, theological or other interest in Augustine - something for everyone, perhaps?

    ...more info
  • Confessions, by St. Augustine
    Augustine presents his work, Confessions, as both an autobiography and a theological study of the Bible. He begins his story from when he was a babe, suckling on his mother's milk, and traverses throughout the trials and turmoil of his life confessing to God about his personal immorality and sinful desires. His is the story of a normal, unsaved sinner who had the fortune to become a faithful believer. He describes his early life very sinisterly, and it is hard for his readers not to roll their eyes and sigh, "Enough already!" St. Augustine goes overboard with the idea that "all good deeds are like rags in the eyes of God," and by doing so effectively demoralizes the faith of his audience. But his message is still a positive one, once the reader finally sums up the courage to finish. Augustine recognizes God's goodness to humankind and praises Him for His mercy. Although he holds a fervent, almost rabid, outlook upon the vileness of humanity, his effort is undeniably Biblical and righteous. It is important for readers in this century to realize again that heaven is unattainable without Christ, a fact that is not touched upon enough in our modern, successful societies.

    The approach of this autobiography is a powerful one, and should still be respected as an excellent approach for modern Christians to express their lives on paper. Yes, it is depressing and morose, but it emphasizes the important point that humility is vital in God's eyes....more info

  • The Father of Theology.
    Aurelius Augustinus 354-430 AD.
    He was born in Thagesta in Numidia (North-Africa).The Confessions' has two parts. The first part is a kind of autobiography and the second part is a commentary to the first chapters of Genesis.
    He taught rhetorics first in Carthago in Africa, later in Milan in Italy. But after a while he developed an aversion not only for rhetorics ( he began to consider it as useless and conceited and as a pool of sins ) but also for his fellow-man.
    He began to show neurotic behaviour like having a fainting fit without apparent cause. It's for those reasons that psychologists like to study Augustine's Confessions.
    As a result of his problems, Augustine became a Christian and he was one of the first to found a monastery. Later on he became bishop of Hippo in North-Africa.

    In the second part of 'The confessions', he tries to explain the first chapters of Genesis. ( This second part is very impressive and is the cause that "The Confessions" is in my personal top five of the best books I read during the last 30 years.)

    His plan was to comment on the whole Bible but he soon understood that this was an impossible task for one man.
    Nevertheless he's is considered as the Father of modern Theology because of his comments.
    To give two examples: When the Bible says that God created man to His image, Augustine explains that it means that man knows the difference between good and evil just like God does, it doesn't mean a physical resemblance.
    Another interesting thought is about Creation. Creation is not limited in space and time: since God is everywhere, Creation is also everywhere and goes on till eternity.

    As conclusion I should mention that 'The Confessions'is also important because it is the first publication in Antiquity in which an author reveals his most inner feelings. ...more info
  • poetic, inspiring words while keeping true to the latin
    Chadwick is both able to keep the meaning of the orginial latin and able to keep the rhythm of Augustine's poetic words. The book itself is inspiring even to those who do not practice the christian faith. A real charmer for anyone who both enjoys poetic language and philosophy!...more info
  • This bitter sea, the human race
    This is an eminently Catholic book written by a sinner in his young age, becoming a singer of the heavenly pleasures of asceticism, growing older. It is a long masochistic call to God for forgiveness of his previous sins in order to get eternal bliss.

    Saint Augustine sees sins everywhere and every time. Every newborn baby receives a stamp `original sin' from his first day on earth, followed immediately by `Was it a sin to cry when I wanted to be feed at the breast?' All organs are sources of sin: the ears, the eye, the smell, taste (eating and drinking) and obsessively, sex (`better a eunuch for love of the kingdom of heaven'). The bodily pleasures leave him so terrified to loose eternal bliss that `Even in my sleep I resist the attractions'!
    Other characteristic cardinal Christian rules are: obey all authorities (`In his own kingdom a king has the right to make orders'), censure (`But your law, God, permits the free flow of curiosity to be stemmed'), and deep anti-science sentiments (`futile curiosities masquerade under the name of science and learning. The secrets of nature are irrelevant to our lives.')

    One should think that `love thy neighbor' is one of his basic principle. Absolutely not. He is a profound sectarian: `the Manichees, I ought to have disgorged these men like vomit.'
    But, why is he so sure that he is right? Because of his faith (`not a clear view'), his faith in God and the Holy Scriptures.
    Saint Augustine's Confessions contain also rather childish reflections on the mind, the body-mind dichotomy, memory and, e.g., `the problem of space and God's dimensions'.

    But not everything is negative in this book. There is the love for his mother and his young son.
    Remarkable is his vision that time didn't exist before the creation of the universe.
    As a former sinner, Saint Augustine knows human nature all too well; e.g. `Men love truth when it bathes them in its light; they hate it when it proves them wrong.'
    More importantly, he found a religious solution for the problem of evil: if God created everything, he is also responsible for all evil in the world. But God gave all human beings a free will. Every human being is individually responsible for his actions. (This is not the case for Calvin's creed of predestination).
    One should in no way underestimate Saint Augustine's influence on Christian and Western morals.
    Only for historians and theologians.
    ...more info
  • Void of Philosophical Reasoning
    Had the displeasure of reading this as one of the five required texts for a course on early medieval philosophy.

    Here's a summary for chapters 1-10:

    God is great. My empty life of sin sucked, because nothing is good without God, but now I found God and he's fantastic.

    Every 3 lines is an appraisal of God. The rest of the lines are obfuscated means of conveying simple ideas. An entire chapter is devoted to Augustine's story of stealing pears with company whose admiration he was trying to win. But at the same time he says he did it purely for its wickedness. Some scholars claim that it's a paradox open to multiple interpretations; I say it's a contradiction made by some one trying to shove God in every life experience he had.

    Finally after the main course of the book is done with, he makes a somewhat acceptable discourse on the nature of time and the eternal concept, but the legitimate philosophical content can be summarized in about 1% of the text printed in this book. As for the insight to the personal nature of a person's prayers and relationship with God, I truly hope this is not how most theists go about it. It's naught more than incoherent praising at every turn. ...more info
  • Great Masterpiece
    Augustine's _Confessions_ have really had no parallel in the history of biographical writing. This account of his life stands as one of the most beautifully written Latin texts ever. Augustine was a master of prose writing and even in translations his work comes very powerfully forth.
    There are many of these translations around but the best so far, in my opinion, is Henry Chadwicks. This translation speaks to the comtemporary reader in a way that is unpretentious and readable.
    The content of the book itself is masterfully done. This laying bare of one's soul before God achieves an unimaginable amount of self knowledge and self mastery. Augustine is able to capture the need to find meaning in his life.
    The first part of the book is what is most interesting for the general reader since it deals with the biographical part of Augustine's life. The second part is more theological and philosophical in scope. It is readable but it takes more work to get at the meaning Augustine intended.
    This book is great for those who are searching for the truth about themselves, if ultimately there is any. ...more info
  • The problem with evil is that it is good
    It is said that St. Augustine invented the autobiographical genre and that is significant. But more significant seems to be his great insight into the problem of temptation and evil. With deep conviction and personal examination, he studies the motivations toward sin and sees the paradox that we choose evil not for evil sake but because it seems good. Of all the actions in Augustine's life he could have examined as sinful acts, he chose the most simple on which to concentrate - a boyhood prank of stealing fruit captures the microscope of his self-examining eye. Bit by bit he takes apart the incident conveying how it relates to other incidents in his life and what it tells us about the human condition in general. It is the genius of Augustine to use an apparently innocuous event to convey some of the most profound thinking on human nature and the problem of evil. A groundbreaking work of its kind and content....more info
  • Written for Forever
    There are three classes of support for Christian belief: the metaphysical, the historical, and the experiential. The metaphysical argues from logic and the existence and nature of reality, the historical from the past - both human and pre-human, and the experiential from personal, and private, experience.

    While I don't want to diminish the metaphysical or historical components of Christian belief and apologetics, I think that the most important source of living belief is the experiential, but it is also by far the hardest to communicate, since it is by nature, private and personal. While my experiences may convince me of the truth of the Christian faith, how can they convince you? They are part of my experience, not yours. It might seem to be an impossibility, yet this is the challenge that Augustine took on in "Confessions", and it is by the degree of difficulty that the extent of his success and the greatness of the work can be measured.

    "Confessions" is a work of great beauty. Written in the form of a confessional prayer, Augustine bares himself utterly, and in so doing, makes the reader want to lower his defenses as well, making it possible to experience another's life more deeply than he might have thought possible, and in so doing, to translate his experience of Christianity across the divide that separates us from each other.

    Because of the nature of "Confessions", I think that analysis of it is to be avoided. Analysis is distancing - it encourages the reader not to dive it in, but to stand back. You cannot experience "Confessions" and critique it at the same time, and all of the value is in the experience....more info

  • Confession of a Pre-Modern Saint
    In our love for what is current, we often assume that our generation is the first--the first to do whatever the new "fad" is. Reading the spiritual auto-biography of a pre-modern Saint like Augustine reminds us that history is the democarcy of the dead, giving vote and voice to our ancestors (to paraphrase Chesteron in "Orthodoxy").

    We are not the first to be reflective. We are not the first to explore our inner world. We are not the first to struggle with guilt. We are not the first to integrate inner spirituality and the philosophy current in our day. Augustine did all of these, and so much more, 1600 years ago.

    Reading Augustine's "Confessions also reminds us of the "three ways" that Christian theologians and philosophers have historically taught that we can know God. We can know God through His special revelation in Scripture. We can know God through His general revelation in nature (creation). Aquinas emphasized integrating this "way to God" with special revelation. And we can know God through His natural revelation in human nature (in the image of God in humanity). Augustine emphasized integrating this "way to God" with special revelation.

    This is where Augustine's "Confessions" diverges from post-modern auto-biography. Today's auto-biographies tend to be "all about me." Not Augustine's. Augustine searched his soul to know himself not as an end in itself, but as a means to an end.

    For Augustine, self-reflection enhances our God-reflection. Since God is eternal and since we are created in His image, the deepest longings in our souls point toward the only One who can fulfill our longings. The deepest thoughts in our minds point toward the only One wise enough to provide answers for the mysteries of life.

    Reviewer: Dr. Robert W. Kellemen is the author of "Spiritual Friends: A Methodology of Soul Care and Spiritual Direction," "Soul Physicians: A Theology of Soul Care and Spiritual Direction," and the forthcoming "Sacred Companions: A History of Soul Care and Spiritual Direction."...more info
  • Interesting historically, bad theology/philosophy
    As a non-believer, some of the more entertaining bits were Augustine pining that he wishes he'd been made a eunuch as a boy, and describing at length the sensual dreams that aroused and tormented after he gave up his lecherous ways and escaped the lesser torment of marriage.

    Interesting historically as a document of how Platonism was explicitly wedded with Christianity, but some of the theology is a bit strained, i.e., his exposition of Genesis chapter one in which he attempts to explain how God created everything outside of time and without any effort, and yet this took six days and he rested on the seventh. His attempts to solve the problem of evil also do more to confuse the issue than to clarify it, but that is to be expected.

    But it is definitely far better in terms of both literary style and quality of thought than the efforts of today's believers, and it is worth reading for anyone interested in intellectual or religious history....more info
  • An amazing look at the life of a spiritual giant
    This book is a very powerful, memorable spiritual autobiography and Augustine tells his story like none other. He is transparent and honest at every turn, holding nothing back. He tells of his faith struggles, his sins and his temptations very candidly. The story of his conversion is truly beautiful and will stay with you. He has written in such a way that you truly see the hand of God at work in his life. A phenomenal read that will touch you. Highly recommended....more info
  • A Masterpiece
    Anyone interested in Theology or morality will truly find Augustine's Confessions to be worthy of all its centuries of acclaim. I am a Protestant Christian, and I found his story of conversion to be both moving and relevant to my own life. I would say this book is a must for Christians. A warning: the concepts are deep and require effort to understand - this is not a light read. It is, however, undoubtedly worth the time and energy necessary. The intellectual, philosophical, and spritual rigor of this text will enlighten the mind and prick the heart....more info
  • A spiritual journey
    This is simply one of the greatest Christian books of all time! You do not have to be Catholic to appreciate St. Augustine's journey to the Christian faith....more info
  • Outstanding....Why does no one write like this today?
    This man was a genius. Yet his life and thought are with the grasp of any thoughtful reader. You must read this work, at the very top of the list of classics in Christian thought and in world history....more info
  • Has ever any other writer reached this clarity of thought?
    The only reason I dare to review Augustine's classic is to focus on the high level of clarity he attained writing on the most abstract themes, like "time" and "thinking about thought". Though the highest points of his book, to my taste, are those of philosophical character, the author is also a charming narrator. Consider, for instance, the episode where he marvels at the sight of Ambrosius reading alone "without moving his lips"! Would I perhaps be allowed to give seven stars to this book?...more info
  • A Spiritual Tell-all Classic.
    The modern "tell-all-unofficial biography" is not something we came up with recently. In St. Augustine's day, this book was innovative as it was shocking: nobody in Antiquity wrote about themselves, at leat not in the way St. Augustine does. Period. And in theis spiritual autobiography, St. Augustine holds no bars. From mischievous youth to a man striving for holiness, this is Augustin unplugged. The real killer comes in the last four books on Memory, Time, and Creation. From a man's journey to God we read about God reaching to save all men and women. A must-have book for anyone serious about his/her spiritual life....more info
  • Augie and his MONSTER SIZE mommie complex
    All you one and 2 star commentators will like what I have to say on this alleged *saint*.
    Look its one thing to havea mother complex, most men do, a few succumb til death, Augie was one of these who never got over his complex.
    Monica, his mother was the typical type that drowns the son , a power monger.
    She was the one who advised her son to dump his *wife* of 17 years (was a forced marriage as the girl was a concubine he got pregnant when he 17 yrs old!!!) Augie was 34 and seekinga high position in Milanese government. His *wife* was illiterate street girl , thus *extra baggage*. Augie sent her back to north africa, their hometown.
    Plot gets juicier.
    Mommie Monica (the catholic church titles her *the great devote saint*) sets up a new potential mate, but the girl is only 10, roman law allows marriage for girls not until 12 yrs old. So he has to wait.
    In these 2 yrs, he gets depressed and calls off the marriage.
    His life then is nothing but turmoil, driven by his monster size mother complex. Monica dies during this time, however the complex is in full force. The physical mother is gone, but the dominate complex is in his blood in full force.
    Augie was schooled as a master of rhetoric, thus as a new christian he realize *fancy talk* is cheap, and contrary to christian ideals. But too late, his mind was hard wired to function in this mindless rhetorical mannerism.
    Worse than actually helping the soul his writings lead the soul no where but in senseless out-of-touch-with-reality circles.
    His beliefs do much harm to those who wish to finda child like faith, which Christ himself says is the only way to the kingdom of God. Augie's babbling and empty chatter leads us away from the plain truth, which Christ came to reveal to *those who will receive* (the few)
    The catholic church wants us to look beyond all these glaring issues and say *what a great man to turn from his sins and go on to defend the faith*
    Augie like EVERY SINGLE CHURCH FATHER, was constantly embroiled in fighting the *heretics*. Where in the New Testament do we find a command to FIGHT the heretics?
    BTW we should also be aware that anti-semiticism was fervent throughout the history of the catholic church.
    Read B Natanyahu's masterly book The Origins of the Inquisition/Random House, 1995.
    Its no wonder the catholic church has become what she now is, a business , based upon misguided writings from Augustine. Priests actually have to study this fermented long-winded bunk!!!
    To sum up, Augustine's mind offers no understanding of the soul, life, man, woman, and certainly sheds no insight into the mysteries which we call God.
    Paul Best
    New Orleans
    July 30,2008

    the catholic church, BUTCHERED MILLIONS of *heretics* past 1500 years, the french group called Hugunots were butchered severly by the catholics. Catholic church gave itself to the kings of europe for power, for MONEY, GOLD!!, which is why the catholic church is The Great Whore in Revelation. spreading her legs to the kings in order to keep her wealth/power. She still kisses the hands of modern rulers, russia, mexico, all latin america, rulers which murder all dissidents.
    Scum bag, filthy catholics. Protestants are no better, as martin Luther was the 1st nazi, *KILL THE JEWS* was his lifelong refrain....more info
  • Spiritual autobiography
    To talk directly to God , my guess is Augustine learned from the Psalms. To tell his life story to God including the story of his own inner life and struggles in such a prolonged and detailed way he apparently learned only from himself. In any case in inner intensity, in moving description of human relationships, to his mother and friends, in reflection on Time and its meaning, and in his relation to God Augustine writes the work that will set the standard for all spiritual autobiography before and after....more info
  • Peeping into the soul of a man

    Translation by Rex Warner (in Signet Classics)

    This one is a very good translation, especially for the modern reader. It conveys the immediacy and vividness of a text written more than 1500 years ago. One feels almost as a voyeur peeping into the private confession of a man to his God. The honesty and unembarrassed disclosure of his sins, and fruitless search for worldly wisdom, is something we can personally identify with, even today. It is amazing how vivid the description of life in late 4th century is in this Confessions. What a wonderful way to approach History, places like Carthage, Rome or Milan, thru the eyes of a skilled and intelligent man who pours his heart on these pages for us to benefit from.

    St. Augustine's life, however distant in time, is filled with events, desires, and troubles, as common today as in the year 400. We can identify fully with him, and in his longing and weakness we can see our own soul portrayed. He talks about his childhood, his family, his studies and his lifelong pursuit of wisdom and truth, specially since the age of 19. We get immersed in the daily life of people in the 4th Century under the Roman Empire, their daily worries, their intellectual debates, their religious confrontations. We see the social conditions of all classes of people, from the wealthy and idle to the slaves who fight in the Circus. We see people living, talking, traveling, dreaming, and going about their business as if we were present with them. No wonder this book is an authentic classic, one that I should have read long ago.

    There are many reasons to read this book. Those interested in History are certainly going to find plenty of information from eye-witness perspective; those who like to read personal memories and autobiographies won't have it easy to find a better one. For those interested in the history of religion and Catholicism, this is a must, a landmark in Christian literature. Whatever you are looking for, this book is certainly one that will satisfy your intellectual curiosity as well as fill you spiritually.

    One thing to bear in mind is that the Confessions are not addressed to us, readers, that is why certain things about the author's behavior seem inexplicable: certain things that would seem to us to merit more explaining, being only mentioned briefly (his behavior toward the woman he had a child with, for example), while other issues are given a lot more space. Of course the Lord knew his heart well, but still, one is intrigued at this man....more info
  • Hate to Give it One Star
    Is there an option for zero. The worst I book I have ever read. He contradicts himself in his points, hoovers over stealing pears (and other evil things) and puts me to sleep. I don't see how this piece of garbage could make anyone a saint, it should be burned. ZERO STARS....more info
  • Best book ever.
    This is the greatest book in Christendom other then the Bible. Period. This translation (from the Latin) is quite good. It is translated in the contemporary idiom but also keeps the beauty of Augustine's language. EVERYONE should read this book more then once in their life. Experience Augustine's "sober intoxication" with God's "sovereign joy"!...more info
  • A sinner's guide to Christianity
    The first major and most important work of a person's story on coming face to face with Christ. This is a timeless classic that every Christian and non-Christian alike can relate to, though it's a dangerous read, since it might influence the non-Christian to delve deeper. Augustine hits the nail on the head for everyone's struggles with becoming a better person and Christian when he writes, "Give me chastity and give me continence, but do not give it yet."...more info


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