Confessions

Confessions

Augustine's Confessions is one of the most influential and most innovative works of Latin literature. Written in the author's early forties in the last years of the fourth century A.D. and during his first years as a bishop, they reflect on his life and on the activity of remembering and interpreting a life. Books I-IV are concerned with infancy and learning to talk, schoo...

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Title:Confessions
Author:Augustine of Hippo
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Edition Language:English

Confessions Reviews

  • Darwin8u

    - Augustine, Confessions

    I can’t believe it has taken me so long to read Augustine’s Confessions. I might not agree with some of his conclusions (my Christian framework, Mormon*, would be considered a heresy by Augustine), but his influence on Christianity, philosophy, and the West can’t be ignored. I read this book in little bits on Sunday duri

    - Augustine, Confessions

    I can’t believe it has taken me so long to read Augustine’s Confessions. I might not agree with some of his conclusions (my Christian framework, Mormon*, would be considered a heresy by Augustine), but his influence on Christianity, philosophy, and the West can’t be ignored. I read this book in little bits on Sunday during Church (specifically Mormon church, more specifically Sacrament meeting).

    You may notice the math doesn't work I've spent nearly half of the year reading Augustine on Sundays (52/2 = 26; 26x20 = 520; and Confessions is NOT 520 pages). That is easily explained. I have two friends a six-year-old (Cohen) and a ten-year-old (Wes) with autism. They often sit with me when they struggle with the pews at Church and end up being more than their parents can handle. I must confess, I can do amazing things on Sunday with Wes or Cohen (mints or candy help), but Wes + Cohen + Augustine never seems to work out well for Augustine. Thus, my progress has been slowed. I think both God and Augustine would/will understand.

    I must also confess that I liked the Confessions part of the book, more than the expositions (the last 4 books).

    * my Mormon framework, Zen Mormon, would also be considered a heresy by most Mormons. :)

  • Sean Blake

    Reading Augustine of Hippo's

    is like plunging into a deep, dark abyss and seeing a slither of light at the far side of the endless tunnel, unaware of whether you reach it or not; for

    is a proto-existentialist work of a man at

    Reading Augustine of Hippo's

    is like plunging into a deep, dark abyss and seeing a slither of light at the far side of the endless tunnel, unaware of whether you reach it or not; for

    is a proto-existentialist work of a man attempting to achieve inner perfection in a world of material greed and spiritual emptiness. Sound familiar? Because these themes are universal and timeless in the eternal consciousness of man.

    Augustine of Hippo is no stranger to this recurring trait of our species, and in the first part of the poetic masterpiece, he bears his fragile soul to all who dare to truly enlighten themselves. This book was his attempt at addressing the painful sins of his aesthetically dangerous past, and trying to rid of them through tortured prayers to God.

    It is obvious right from the start that Augustine refuses to give the reader an easy going reading experience. For a religious text, it is heart wrenching at times and, while offering a continually fresh perspective on Christianity and philosophy, he retains a strong hold on the reader as he deconstructs his flawed nature, for his suffering was also his redemption, his enlightenment, his forgiveness. One feels his morally destructive pain in each emotional page; for how can a man attempting to achieve inner perfection and a connection with God live with sorrowful reflections of sleeping with prostitutes—even living with one? He tears himself apart passionately describing a scene from his childhood when he stole some fruit, not out of desperation, but simply because it was wrong.

    These confessions continue well after his memoir. In part two, he confesses his theological and philosophical beliefs with extended theoretical examinations on the nature of man, the mind, the senses, time, Creation and its relation to God. Augustine delves deep into the mind, in an attempt to understand what gave Moses and Christ such inherently profound knowledge. His dissections into the memory of the rational mind is examined extensively and, upon reflection, his agonizing search for the Truth still provides acute psychological penetration into the human soul over 1,500 years on. His experiments still explain some deep truths in the vast network of human thought.

    Ironically, however, there was an everlastingly warm presence throughout the book, for Augustine is not only talking to God, he is also talking to us, the reader. Part memoir, part philosophical and theological investigation into the nature of existence, Augustine of Hippo's

    is an honest and beautiful work of non-fiction, where the unexplained might not be explained, but the door is opened slightly more to the Truth.

  • Murtaza

    I suspect most people today would not imagine that they have much in common with a Christian saint who lived over 1500 years ago. Remarkably enough however if they read this book I think they'd find much to relate to, just as I did.

    is the famous autobiography of St. Augustine of Hippo, a North African saint. It is in part his life story, but to me it is really his spiritual biography. It is in effect a long letter from himself directed towards God, explaining his path towards th

    I suspect most people today would not imagine that they have much in common with a Christian saint who lived over 1500 years ago. Remarkably enough however if they read this book I think they'd find much to relate to, just as I did.

    is the famous autobiography of St. Augustine of Hippo, a North African saint. It is in part his life story, but to me it is really his spiritual biography. It is in effect a long letter from himself directed towards God, explaining his path towards the divine. It is the story of how Augustine went from a sinner — someone who in his own words had a restless soul and disordered mind — into the realm of divine knowledge and awareness. It is a familiar story to anyone who has read Ibn Arabi, al-Ghazali or any other individuals who have counseled taking what is often referred to as the spiritual path.

    What was most notable to me about the book were how "normal" St. Augustine and his thoughts seem by today's standards. He did not want to surrender his bad habits and he did not want to be ridiculed for believing something that he'd (incorrectly) assumed was ridiculous. He wanted real knowledge and the company of his beloved friends and family. He loved his mother and he wanted to do what was right in his life, a life that he knew was inherently transient. The book describes the process of his spiritual awakening, likening it at one part to the resistance one feels to waking up in the morning and the efforts we take to remain asleep even when we know we must get up. He describes the components of existence as being like the words of a sentence, with one dying so the other can live and none but the highest intellect able to see the meaning of the entire sentence. His heart desires to come to a place of rest, rather than being in endless search for a thing that our minds cannot name. The prose is beautiful.

    This is a book that deserves to be described as timeless, because it deals with the core issues of the human condition: who we are, why we are here and what we must do to be enlightened, peaceful and successful. It is also an advised read for those who incorrectly believe that Christianity is a superficial or intellectually unstimulating religion. This could not be further from the truth. To me St. Augustine was another Ibn Arabi, an earnest seeker of the truth who found his riches by looking within. As long as human beings still exist, this book has something very important to say to them.

  • James

    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 aliv

    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 a spiritual epiphany changes his perspective forever, 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. The additional philosophical musings, such as his discussion of the nature of time, make this even more compelling to those who appreciate philosophical contemplation. Psychology, philosophy and spirituality combine to make this one of the "Great" books that remind you that true insight into the human condition transcends time and place.

  • Sarah

    Chadwick's translation of Augustine's Confessions (note that this is a confession to God, while read by men) is one of the best. It is not costly in a monetary sense; new it is a mere 6.95. However, it is deceptively short. A chapter will take you two hours if you give it the attention it deserves. Augustine is a circular writer. He is not a bad writer - he was known to be a merciless editor, in fact. But he goes around and around, especially later on in the last chapters of the book when he is

    Chadwick's translation of Augustine's Confessions (note that this is a confession to God, while read by men) is one of the best. It is not costly in a monetary sense; new it is a mere 6.95. However, it is deceptively short. A chapter will take you two hours if you give it the attention it deserves. Augustine is a circular writer. He is not a bad writer - he was known to be a merciless editor, in fact. But he goes around and around, especially later on in the last chapters of the book when he is wondering aloud, in a sense, about more neo-platonic and loftier, metaphysical questions he is asking of God and thinking aloud/reasoning as best he can with his brilliant mind on paper; recognizing that that mind is a gift from God and he is to steward it. It gets hairy. It gets *hard* to stick with.

    If you can, and you do, you will find yourself perhaps having some of the same reactions I did:

    a)I always wondered the

    !, or

    b)I am not even smart enough to have even thought to have wondered that

    or possibly even

    c)I have no idea what he's even talking about anymore.

    Had I not taken a course solely on The Confessions, when I had to read

    in a later theology class I most likely would have had a crisis of faith and quit. Because I was used to his style of writing and knew who the Manichees were, what the background was and the Neo-Platonic, socio-historical setting Augustine was situated in, I could confront

    and later, "for fun," I was brazen enough to take on

    .

    There was nothing Augustine didn't talk about or no issue he didn't confront as Bishop when he was alive, because he was a very prolific writer. He spent his time not in fancy robes as one may imagine, but answering questions of the people - he was an

    theologian. We are still reaping the benefits of that today, for his answers were good ones and are still relevant. Before he became bishop, though, he lived the life he spells out on the pages of the

    , which are not tales of endless days skipping carelessly along smooth paths by any stretch of the imagination. He reveals facets of himself not very becoming of a bishop; facets that are human. He was the first to admit to having such personality traits and publish a book about it and turn it back into praise to God when it was previously just material for gossip.

    Remaining human all the while, he points steadfastly to God, which is why this book is so crucial to know intimately. He speaks of heartbreak and loss in a way that you want to turn to it when you go through it (I did). He speaks of those who will naysay you when you have changed, speaking of who you were and not who you are, and you will again want to turn to his words. It is invaluable.

  • James

    It was slow, it was dense, and it was militantly Christian. So why is that The Confessions is such an unavoidably fascinating work? Augustine appears here as a fully realized person, with all the good and the bad that that implies; it's as if the book was a conversation with God and a fly-on-the-wall was taking dictation. Since God obviously would have known Augustine's transgressions before they even occurred, Augustine thus has nothing to hide in this personal narrative, or at least makes it a

    It was slow, it was dense, and it was militantly Christian. So why is that The Confessions is such an unavoidably fascinating work? Augustine appears here as a fully realized person, with all the good and the bad that that implies; it's as if the book was a conversation with God and a fly-on-the-wall was taking dictation. Since God obviously would have known Augustine's transgressions before they even occurred, Augustine thus has nothing to hide in this personal narrative, or at least makes it appear that way. The prose of this translation must be incredibly different from its Latin source, but it's obvious that Augustine has a force of personality that appears through his work that few writer have matched in the centuries that have followed this original Western autobiography. The power and beauty of his writing was no doubt aided by his devotion not only to The Bible, but to Cicero, Plato, and especially Virgil. It's also an incomparably fascinating window into the culture of the time: the Manicheans, Astrologers, Christians, and Pagans are all interesting studies through the eyes of this saint. His contributions to philosophy in this text cannot be ignored even today. Bertrand Russell (not exactly a churchgoer) admired his work on time, and it's still an enlightening experience to read these thoughts. And of course the story of spiritual awakening is an inspiring and beautiful one, a story that is not altogether dissimilar to that of the Buddha centuries before Augustine.

    Although, especially at the start, it can be slow and cold reading, The Confessions more than justifies its position as one of the most important books ever written.

  • MihaElla

    Due to unknown and mysterious reasons, each and every year, chiefly on Labour day (at my side always celebrated on 1st May and of course a day off), I seem to fall under a moral paralysis, while suffering a bit of nervous physical inability, which converts me into the laziest person ever. Fortunately, this seems to last only one day and, additionally, as per my horoscope’s indications, this is not my worst fault. This year wasn’t any different than my collected past. So, while gazing for an hour

    Due to unknown and mysterious reasons, each and every year, chiefly on Labour day (at my side always celebrated on 1st May and of course a day off), I seem to fall under a moral paralysis, while suffering a bit of nervous physical inability, which converts me into the laziest person ever. Fortunately, this seems to last only one day and, additionally, as per my horoscope’s indications, this is not my worst fault. This year wasn’t any different than my collected past. So, while gazing for an hour or two at a blank wall (again, fortunately, I have only one blank wall in my room, all the others are veiled by furniture), dozing for a few times under a cosy sweet morning sleep, suddenly upon waking up I felt snapping into action and jumped on one of the bookcases and decided for the day to be under, maybe a bit, not so highly appetizing book. Obviously, an unconscious prejudice.

    The choice for the day was this small light book. I don’t know why upon picking it up from the bookshop I thought that this is all of it, I mean it contains All of the Augustine saint's Confessions. But it is not. Of course, there are many texts chopped and left just with …. in the parenthesises.

    Reading-wise it was very pleasant and smooth transition between the chapters. I felt that some things were more than reasonable enough to say and write anyone, anytime, anywhere. The areas where ideas were being converted into a heavier block of comments, suddenly were not... Again, some chapters were so short-length, just 1-3 pages which left me with a very unconvincing insight on the treated theme or subject. However, overall, I really had pleasure reading these passionate confessions. In some places, I even felt envy towards the saint. IF only, I could say the same for things that are under my umbrella. But, hopefully, the time is not yet lost.

    In some parts of the book, I got under this strong impression that I am re-reading something that I once read in ‘God’s Pauper: Saint Francis of Assisi’ by Nikos Kazantzakis. Under the paint brush of Kazantzakis, Francis was one of the most loving characters but so desperately suffering that made me put away the book, time and again, so to (re)gain some strength for further reading. I recall I read some biography of St Francis of Assisi also by Herman Hesse. It was also a small light book that gave me some glimpses of the life of this well famous personage.

    ≪ …but in my memory the images of things imprinted upon it by my former habits still linger on. When I am awake they obtrude themselves upon me, though with little strength. But when I dream, they not only give me pleasure but are very much like acquiescence in the act. The power which these illusory images have over my soul and my body is so great that what Is no more than a vision can influence me in sleep in a way that the reality cannot do when I am awake. Surely it cannot be that when I am asleep I am not myself? And yet the moment when I pass from wakefulness to sleep, or return again from sleep to wakefulness, marks a great difference in me. During sleep where is my reason which, when I am awake, resists such suggestions and remains firm and undismayed even in face of the realities themselves? Is it sealed off when I close my eyes? Does it fall asleep with the senses of the body? And why is it that even in sleep I often resist the attractions of these images, for I remember my chaste resolutions and abide by them and give no consent to temptations of this sort? Yet the difference between waking and sleeping is so great that even when, during sleep, it happens otherwise, I return to a clear conscience when I wake and realize that, because of this difference, I was not responsible for the act, although I am sorry that by some means or other it happened to me.

    I must now speak of a different kind of temptation, more dangerous than these because it is more complicated. For in addition to our bodily appetites, which make us long to gratify all our senses and our pleasures and lead to our ruin if we stay away from you by becoming their slaves, the mind if also subject to a certain propensity to use the sense of the body, not for self-indulgence of a physical kind, but for the satisfaction of its own inquisitiveness. This futile curiosity masquerades under the name of science and learning, and since it derives from our thirst of knowledge and sight is the principal sense by which knowledge is acquired, in the Scriptures it is called the gratification of the eye. >>

    << We can easily distinguish between the motives of pleasure and curiosity. When the senses demand pleasure, they look for objects of visual beauty, harmonious sounds, fragrant perfumes, and things that are pleasant to the taste or soft to the touch. But when their motive is curiosity, they may look for just the reverse of these things, simply to put it to the proof, not for the sake of an unpleasant experience, but from a relish for investigation and discovery. What pleasure can there be in the sight of a mangled corpse, which can only horrify? Yet people will flock to see one lying on the ground, simply for the sensation of sorrow and horror that it gives them. They are even afraid that it may bring them nightmares, as though it were something that they had been forced to look at while they were awake or something to which they had been attracted by rumours of its beauty.>>

    << Who can understand the omnipotent Trinity? We all speak of it, though we may not speak of it as it truly is, for rarely does a soul know what it is saying when it speaks of the Trinity. Men wrangle and dispute about it, but it is a vision that is given to none unless they are at peace.

    There are three things, all found in man himself, which I should like men to consider. They are far different from the Trinity, but I suggest them as a subject for mental exercise by which we can test ourselves and realize how great this difference is. The three things are existence, knowledge, and will, for I can say that I am, I know, and I will. I am a being which knows and wills; I know both that I am and that I will; and I will both to be and to know. In these three – being, knowledge, and will – there is one inseparable life, one life, one mind, one essence; and therefore, although they are distinct from one another, the distinction does not separate them. This must be plain to anyone who has the ability to understand it. In fact, he need not look beyond himself. Let him examine himself closely, take stock, and tell me what he finds.

    But when he has found a common principle in these three and has told me what he finds, he must not think that he has discovered that which is above them all and is unchangeable, that which immutably is, immutably knows, and immutably wills. For none of us can easily conceive whether God is a Trinity because all these three – immutable being, immutable knowledge, and immutable will – are together in him; whether all three are together in each person of the Trinity, so that each is threefold; or whether both these suppositions are true and in some wonderful way, in which the simple and the multiple are one, though God is infinite he is yet an end to himself and in himself, so that the Trinity is an itself, and is known to itself, and suffices to itself, the supreme Being, one alone immutably, in the vastness of its unity. This is a mystery that none can explain, and which of us would presume to assert that he can? ≫

    All in one, I feel like repeating the same words that Bulgakov (The White Guard) put in the mouth of a soldier who claimed that one day God spoke directly to him, about God’s presence and of believers in his faith:

    ≪ Well, if they do not believe, what can you do? It’s up to each one of them. I do not care about this either. As you do not care either. And they don’t care either. As for your faith, you ought to know that I have neither gain nor loss. One believes, another does not believe, but your actions and deeds are all the same: one, two, and you will squeeze your throats… For me, you are all the same - soldiers fallen on the battlefield. That's what you need to understand, though it's not in everyone's power. And then, do not worry about stuff like that. Walk healthy and enjoy life. ≫

  • K.D. Absolutely

    I never dreamed that one day I would finished reading a 300-page memoir written by a ancient Catholic saint. See, how many saints who lived during the first millennium have written himself a memoir?

    I twice tried to read The Holy Bible (once in English and once in Tagalog) from cover to cover but failed. I just got distracted by too many details and hard-to-remember names and ancient places and I could not appreciate what were all those characters are doing. Excuses, excuses. They say that readin

    I never dreamed that one day I would finished reading a 300-page memoir written by a ancient Catholic saint. See, how many saints who lived during the first millennium have written himself a memoir?

    I twice tried to read The Holy Bible (once in English and once in Tagalog) from cover to cover but failed. I just got distracted by too many details and hard-to-remember names and ancient places and I could not appreciate what were all those characters are doing. Excuses, excuses. They say that reading The Holy Bible needs the Holy Spirit to come to you so that it will be the spirit who will whisper the words to your ears so that you will understand the word of God. Maybe the spirit is still contemplating whether a sinner like me is worth his time and effort.

    Until I came to this memoir. Written by a self-confessed sinner who is now considered one of the most important figures in the development of Western Christianity:

    (latin word for

    (354-430)

    It took me more than 4 weeks to finish this book. Not a straight read. It is impossible to do that. The memoir is like a letter of St. Augustine to God and in the letter, he is conversing and confessing. He pours out his thoughts, his doubts, his questions. Some of those are funny (based on what we all know now with the advances in science and technology). He tells Him his weaknesses, what wrongs he has done to others. His sins in thoughts, in words, in actions.

    Reading it is like uttering a prayer. Read a page or two and you get that feeling that you have achieve your daily quota of prayers. St. Augustine poured his heart out in each page of his memoir. Something that is inspiring for me to ask myself those questions he threw out to God and reflect on those thoughts that he put on the pages.

    There are so many quotes that I would like to capture here but if I do that, I think I will be quoting half of the book. Most of them are in long and winding sentences but this first paragraph of Book 11 is my favorite:

    Now, I have to give The Holy Bible another try. I could not have finished this whole book and pointed that beautiful part if there was no Holy Spirit upon me.

    Oh ye of little faith.

  • Laura

    I am going to take my time with this book. It'd be the first time I read this sort of thing just for the joy of it. I'm just a bit familiar with St. Augustine and while I know this can be a hard read due to my personal beliefs, it is always great to read what other people's take on religion, love, hate and the human meaning.

  • Farren

    Are you there God? It's me, St. Augustine.

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