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Confessions Of Saint Augustine
Confessions Of Saint Augustine
Confessions Of Saint Augustine
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Confessions Of Saint Augustine

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

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St Augustine’s ‘Confessions’ was written between AD 397-400. An autobiographical work, it was written in thirteen parts, each a complete text intended to be read aloud. Written in his early 40s, it documents the development of Augustine’s thought from childhood into his adult life – a life he considered in retrospect to be both sinful and immoral. He was in his early 30s before he converted to Christianity, but was soon ordained as a priest and became a bishop not long after.

‘Confessions’ not only documented his conversion but sought to offer guidance to others taking the same path. Considered to be the first Western autobiography to be written, Augustine’s work (including the subsequent ‘City of God’) became a major influence on Christian writers for the next 1,000 years and remains a much-valued contribution to Christian thinking.


This edition uses the classic translation from Latin by E.B. Pusey (1838) with a partial modernisation of the text to assist the modern reader.


LanguageEnglish
Release dateApr 11, 2016
ISBN9781848706200
Confessions Of Saint Augustine
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Author

Augustine of Hippo

St. Augustine of Hippo (354–430) was a theologian, philosopher, and the bishop of Hippo Regius (in what is now Algeria) in North Africa. A convert to Catholicism, Augustine is one of the original four Doctors of the Church and helped lay the foundation of modern Christianity with his writings, which include Confessions, The City of God, and On Christian Doctrine.

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Reviews for Confessions Of Saint Augustine

Rating: 3.0101137800252844 out of 5 stars
3/5

1,582 ratings43 reviews

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  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    4/5
    Confessions. Saint Augustine. 2d Translated by Frank Sheed. 1992. And I Burned for your Peace; Augustine’s Confessions Unpacked. Peter Kreeft. 2016. Confessions was a fall sections for our great books club, and I just finished it! Not that I it should have taken me this long; I just read most of the books listed above as I read a few pages in Confessions two or three times a week until I finished it. It is a beautiful book, and I am so glad that I read it. To be honest, I am not sure I would have finished it had I not read Kreeft’s book along with it. He certainly did a good job of explaining St. Augustine. It was sort of like reading the Bible. I really enjoyed most of it, but Augustine does belabor the points he makes! He takes a long time to say anything. This is a spiritual autobiography, not a typical autobiography. Anyone interested in early Christian thought would do well to read this. I expect I will return to read some of the many parts I underlined
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
    One of the great works in philosophy and religion.
  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    4/5
    A marvelous autobiography of a Church Father. How he coped with avoiding the "call" to God. He sought the truth in pganism, then Aristotelian philosophy, then Manichaeism. All the while relishing a sinner's life. Then he visited Milan, called upon Ambrose and began his conversion to Christianity. He portrays himself, warts and all, living with a mistress, his quest for easy living and money, only to be confronted by a voice telling him to read the Bible. It changes his life. He converts. He pursues Catholicism with devotion and eventually finds himself the Bishop of Hippo, ministering to the poor of all faiths. Quite a man.
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
    If anyone struggles with desires within themselves and wonders why the struggle and if it can be overcome they need to read Confessions. The struggle has never changed and Augustine had to fight through his passions and his intellect to find trust and relief in Christ.
  • Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
    3/5
    I know this is a "great" work of Christianity because I was told it was. But it did nothing for me. It seemed jumbled and erratic and hard to understand, despite the use of simple, easy language. It was more stream-of-consciousness that I excepted. I didn't enjoy reading about Augustine's life and struggles with sin. He was honest and that's rare from someone who because famous for their faith. I think this book can make a huge difference in many people's hearts - but for me, it was just not what I prefer to read. It was a bit too sentimental and full of angst for my rational tastes.
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
    This is a master work of religious philosophy. This was one of the first things I read which made me understand religion in the deeper sense.
  • Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
    3/5
    Read the whole thing as part of my church history course. It probably meant more to me reading it as an adult than it would have if I read it all the way through when I bought it in high school. A reminder that God's love is deeper than anything we can imagine.
  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    4/5
    I have read this book several times, both as part of the Basic Program of Liberal Education at the University of Chicago and most recently as one of the monthly selections of a reading group in which I participate. Like all classics it bears rereading and yields new insights each time I read it. But it also is unchanging in ways that struck me when I first read it; for Augustine's Confessions seem almost modern in the telling with a psychological perspective that brings his emotional growth alive across the centuries. From the carnality of his youth to the moment in the Milanese Garden when his perspective changed forever you the story is an earnest and sincere exposition of his personal growth. You do not have to be a Catholic or even a believer to appreciate the impact of events in the life of the young Augustine. His relations with his mother, Monica, are among those that still have impact on the modern reader. This is one of those "Great" books that remind you that true insight into the human condition transcends time and place.
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
    Timeless autobiography showing how the Spirit of Christ drew this Church father to Himself.
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
    Actually brings up the idea that some parts of the bible are to be understood metaphorically, rather than literally. Including Genesis. I always have big trouble with the way Augustine just "sent away" his mistress when he converted. Lots of agonizing over how much it hurt him, but not much on how it affected her. Seems to me he should have married her.
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
    Fabulous feast. Who are you? God only knows, says Augustine reverently.
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
    I really felt my soul physically grow as I read this book.
  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    4/5
    Considering that the style of Augie's work is completely and utterly impenetrable, this is actually a pretty decent read. Just come to it expecting circularity, meditation, rapturous theology and self-flagellation, and you'll come away impressed.
    Don't expect anything linear, and you'll be all the more impressed when he ends up, every now and then, out-Aristotling Aristotle with arguments of the (x-->y)&(y-->z)&(z-->p)&(p-->q); ~x is absurd; therefore q variety.
    Don't expect any modern 'you are a unique and special snowflake and your desires are good it's just that your parents/society/upbringing/schoolfriends/economic earning power have stunted you' self-help guff. It'd be nice to read someone more contemporary who's willing to admit that people do things wrong, all the time, and should feel really shitty for doing wrong things.
    Don't expect Aquinas. This is the hardest bit for me; if someone's going to talk about God I prefer that they be coldly logical about it. Augie goes more for the erotic allegory, self-abasement in the face of the overwhelming eternal kind of thing. No thanks.
    Finally, be aware that you'll need to think long and hard about what he says and why he says it when he does. Books I-IX are the ones you'll read as autobiography, and books X-XIII will seem like a slog. But it's all autobiography. Sadly for Augie, he doesn't make it easy for us to value the stuff he wants to convince us to value, which is the philosophy and theology of the later books. The structure, as far as I can tell, is to show us first how he got to believing that it was possible for him to even begin thinking about God (that's I-IX). X-XIII shows us how he goes about thinking about God, moving from the external world, to the human self in X and a bit of XI, to the whole of creation in XI and XII, to God himself in XIII. I have no idea if this is what he had in mind, but it roughly works out. That's all very intellectually stimulating, but it's still way more fun to read about his peccadilloes and everyday life in the fourth century.
  • Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
    3/5
    Well, I'm finished with this book at last!I originally became interested in reading Confessions when I saw a special twelve years ago about the beginnings of Christianity, because I thought "Confessions" sounded like a juicy book. It's really not juicy at all, so it's a good thing I approached it interested in theology and not scandal by the time I finally got around to reading it. This time around, I mainly felt like it was important for me to read firsthand the philosophy that is so much a basis of Catholic thought.Like most books written in the middle ages, St. Augustine's would have benefited from a good editor. There were a lot of times where I felt he repeated himself, which is fine for a spiritual seeker's personal musings, but a bit annoying for an outside reader hundreds of years later. And even though he wrote his Confessions both to strengthen his understanding/relationship with God and to further the same for others, a lot of it really did feel like naval-gazing. Still, I found myself appreciating a LOT of Augustine's theology, such as his insistence that people could come to diverse interpretations of Scripture without any of them being "wrong" (take that, fundamentalists!). Indeed, Augustine's perception of Christianity seems a lot more open than the Catholic Church of today would lead you to believe, although the hierarchy HAS kept his puritan perceptions of sexuality fully intact. Thank God for that.
  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    4/5
    The "Confessions" of Saint Augustine is a hard work to pin down--part conversion story, part apologetics text, part philosophical treatise, part Bible commentary. It is also a hard work to read. There are many points of interest within the text, but it is not something you just read straight through without a lot of stopping and thinking, and preferably some supplemental research. There were many times reading the book that I felt that my time would be better spent just reading hours of the Bible, and that I was trying to force myself to grapple with a seminary-level text without the prerequisite educational background. This is a vitally significant work in Christian history, to be sure; it lays out fundamental arguments against the Manichaeans, has been looked to by the Roman Catholic church in support of purgatory, and even influenced the philosophical writings of Descartes. However, this wide-ranging history is far beyond the scope of the book itself, and it almost needs its own commentary to be understood by the layperson. The Barnes and Noble edition contains a historical timeline, an introduction, endnotes, a brief essay on the Confessions' influence on later works (which I found to be the most helpful supplemental piece in the book and wish I had read it before the text), a selection of famous quotes responding to the text, and a few critical questions to consider in thinking about the work.
  • Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
    3/5
    A classic work for its influence on Christian theology going forward, but hardly a pleasure read for anyone not a student of such or not keenly interested in early Christian lore. Non-religious at my best, I read it as an early example of autobiography and for the sake of its place in history; but the story of a man's search for himself and his quest for truth is something we all go through at some point in our quest for self-identity. In Augustine's case it is the story of an atheist brought to God, a journey that included the search for truth in many other directions before he resorted to religion. This was a very difficult read, a chore really, and it took me much longer than its page count warranted. I had to lean on Sparknotes quite a bit to help me navigate it. Merging neo-platonic philosophy with Christianity, Augustine argues that everyone and everything moves towards God, knowingly or not, as part of a quest to achieve near-perfect (only God is perfect) state of being. That is an essential message to be aware of and watching for if you've any hope of getting through this.The first nine parts are his biography, which serves as a sort of case study. This was the portion that satisfied my amateur interest. Augustine apologizes to God for every sin he can ever remember making, including some (e.g. crying incessantly as a babe) that he can't. Citing the evil sin of taking pride in his grammar lessons and rhetoric skills, etc. makes him sound almost a flagellant. Slightly more legitimate was the minor theft of fruit committed under peer pressure, and more philandering than was strictly warranted. Most peculiar to me was the supposed sin of taking pleasure in watching tragic drama, as he wonders where the pleasure came from to be entertained by tales of others' suffering, albeit fictional.The last four parts are increasingly obtuse as he lays out his theory of change that moves towards God. I could barely parse these chapters. The first explored memory, the next was on the nature of time, the next the biblical story of creation, and the last ... Sparknotes doesn't cover this one and it lost me so completely, I can't even hazard a guess at what it was addressing even though I read every word. The tenth chapter is also a discussion of temptations and gave me the sad impression that he had built a cage about himself, cutting himself off from every pleasure life has to offer and reducing his experience to mere survival. He writes that of course he knows he cannot permit anyone to dissuade him from this position. It's a typical tenet in any fundamentalist perspectives, this defining anyone who tries to talk you out of your beliefs as inherently evil, permitting your dismissal of their every argument without having to hear or consider (been there, done that, bought the Ayn Rand t-shirt - sold it back.) I have met a brilliant man, one who became deeply inhibited by the self-identity he arrived at.
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
    Augustine's 'efficacious grace' inspired Reformation theologians such as Martin Luther and John Calvin. Augustine taught that Adam's guilt, as transmitted to his descendants, severely weakens, though does not destroy, the freedom of their will. Luther and Calvin took it one step further and said that Original Sin completely destroyed liberty. So we can thank him for helping open up the floodgates of what I perceive to be a huge part of what hell would be like: the overwhelmingly negative infatuation with ascetism. Meanwhile, Augustine's arguments against magic, differentiating it from miracle, were crucial in the early Church's fight against paganism and became a central thesis in the later denunciation of witches and witchcraft. In other words, he perhaps unintentionallly contributed to the burning alive of many innocent people.However, because it is impossible to separate Christianity form European intellectual tradition, we must (for me grudgingly so) acknowledge Augustine's positive role.1. in bringing Greek thought back into the Christian/European intellectual tradition.2. his writing on the human will and ethics would become a focus for later thinkers such as Schopenhauer and Nietzsche. 3. His extended meditation on the nature of time imfluenced even agnostics such as Bertrand Russell. 4. throughout the 20th century Continental philosophers like Husserl, Heidegger, Arendt and Elshtaing were inspired by Augustine's ideas on intentionality, memory, and language.5. Augustine's vision of the heavenly city has probably influenced the secular projects and traditions of the Enlightenment, Marxism, Freudianism and Eco-fundamentalism.Augustine was a medieval thinker who contributed many things, and we must understand he did live in a dark time. I admit his positive achievements (like contributing to my atheism) but we must also realize how his asceticism, fundamentalism and guilt-mongering contributed immensely to some of the darkest moments in history. 4.5 stars for being an important part of history and our understanding of it, whether Augustine's influence is seen as good, bad, or in-between.
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
    What can I even say about this book? I am standing too close to say anything sensible. Fortunately other people have written plenty of actual reviews.Memo to future me: the quote you're (I'm) usually looking for is book 10, chapter 36, first paragraph. "You know how greatly you have already changed me, you who first healed me from the passion for self-vindication, [...] you who subdued my pride by your fear and tamed my neck to your yoke? Now I bear that yoke, and it is light upon me, for this you have promised, and thus have you made it be. Truly, it was this but I did not know it when I was afraid to submit to it."
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
    A wonderful book that at once balances a true confession of a life without God with the awe and wonder of knowing and seeking the Almighty. Augustine masterfully recognizes God's hand in every part of his life, and he makes his reader want to seek that hand as well. A masterpiece in both a religious and literary sense.
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
    Gorgeously written, though I suppose Latin generally translates into very lovely prose. I loved the introspective wanderings into the human consciousness, and recommend the book to anyone, especially one who puts the saints on an unattainable pedestal--the holy have never seemed so human.
  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    4/5

    I began reading this once years ago, but it failed to engage me and I put it aside. When I started again I couldn't understand my previous lack of interest. The work ranges from philosophical speculation to personal memoir, and each kind has it's appeal. I was surprised by how must variety of belief and opinion late antiquity held on so many topics. Some of the debates and issues Augustine describes sound shockingly contemporary, though put in different terms. The passages covering Augustine's personal life can be poignant, especially those concerning death.

    The scholarly consensus is that the Confessions was meant to be a preamble to a longer work: a detailed exegesis of the entirety of Christian scripture. The last three books cover the first chapter of Genesis, with careful attention given to an allegorical interpretation of the creation story. This is apparently as far Augustine ever got, thus adding to the long tradition of great, unfinished masterpieces.