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

  • Sean Wilson

    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.

  • 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.

  • Camille Stein

    Vittore Carpaccio |

    Vittore Carpaccio |

  • Guy Austin

    “Why then should I be concerned for human readers to hear my confessions? It is not they who are going to ‘heal my sicknesses’. The human race is inquisitive about other people’s lives, but negligent to correct their own.”

    I was very excited to read this book; Confessions by St Augustine. Having been an inspiration to so many including John Calvin, Martin Luther and so many others. It is a memoir like few others. One of the first of its kind. In that fact alone my curiosity was peaked. To read of

    “Why then should I be concerned for human readers to hear my confessions? It is not they who are going to ‘heal my sicknesses’. The human race is inquisitive about other people’s lives, but negligent to correct their own.”

    I was very excited to read this book; Confessions by St Augustine. Having been an inspiration to so many including John Calvin, Martin Luther and so many others. It is a memoir like few others. One of the first of its kind. In that fact alone my curiosity was peaked. To read of a life from so long ago pulled me. It is so much more than that. It is indeed a confession. I laying out of all his early life filled with doubt and various ideas of the age he grew up in. It is also a great study of philosophy and theology. The result of this work laid out much of the thought of the reformation leading to the protestant faith.

    It is broken in to thirteen books. Starting with a pouring out of his self and leading us through his earliest memories growing up in North Africa in the 300’s. His relationship with his parents and particularly to his mother’s faith as an early Christian is a big part of his growth. His sins and reflective disgust with his youthful dalliances are not white washed. Including his wanting of woman’s company in his bed.

    “How stupid man is to be unable to restrain feelings in suffering the human lot! That was my state at that time. So I boiled with anger, sighed, wept, and was at my wits’ end. I found no calmness, no capacity for deliberation. I carried my lacerated and bloody soul when it was unwilling to be carried by me. I found no place where I could put it down. There was no rest in pleasant groves, nor in games or songs, nor in sweet-scented places, nor in exquisite feasts, nor in the pleasures of the bedroom and bed, nor, finally, in books and poetry.”

    The first half of the book is more or less a memory of his early life into his late 20’s and early 30’s. His relationships with woman and birth of his son out of wedlock, his friends, mentors, and his mother Monica leading to his conversion. The second part of the book get more into philosophical discussions.

    His discussion on time is both interesting and honestly confusing to me. I found many of his discussions long and winding roads that lead us to his understanding of time. It was at times difficult to follow yet fascinating.

    His argument for the existence of God who is good and how evil can exist simultaneously is here and all of it is written beautifully. The entire novel is readable and enjoyable regardless if you are a believer or not. There is much here to mine. It is a novel that could be read several times and probably should be to fully grasp all that is in it.

    I have no doubt most would read and be startled to know how relatable it is to our own individual doubts on the existence of God. The fact that this Saint could have many of the same doubts in his life as me gave me pause. As he lays out many streams of thought I caught myself wondering why I had not thought of that myself. And then there were times I read his thoughts and was lost and found myself rereading parts to try to grasp it all.

    The entire confession is eye opening and revealing that we are all human. The titles of Bishop and Saint matter not. We all struggle with the same issues.

    “Give me chastity and continence, but not just yet”

    I gave it 4 stars only because I enjoyed the first part far more than the second. I struggled with many of the concepts but the writing was beautiful. However I think many would read the second half or the last three of four books and enjoy these pieces more than I.

    There is much in here to enjoy and think about.

  • 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.

  • Mahdi Lotfi

    اورلیوس آگوستین در ۱۳ نوامبر سال ۳۵۴م در تاگاست، ناحیهی رومی نومیدیا ـ الجزایر کنونی ـ متولد شد و در ۲۸ اوت ۴۳۰م، در هیپون ـ که به دست واندالها اشغال شده بود ـ دیده از جهان فروبست. مفروض است که خانوادهی او ریشهی بربر داشتهاند. پدرش پاتریسیوس بیایمان بود و مادرش مونیکا، مسیحیای معتقد. پدر، به رغم بیایمانی، بر تفوق مهر مادری واقف بود و لاجرم هرگز در شیوهی تربیتی مادر نسبت به فرزند، چونوچرا روا نداشت. از آنجا که پاتریسیوس ملاّکی خردهپا بود، بی آن که از تمکّن و تموّل آنچنانی برخوردار باشد، کمابیش از

    اورلیوس آگوستین در ۱۳ نوامبر سال ۳۵۴م در تاگاست، ناحیه‌ی رومی نومیدیا ـ الجزایر کنونی ـ متولد شد و در ۲۸ اوت ۴۳۰م، در هیپون ـ که به دست واندال‌ها اشغال شده بود ـ دیده از جهان فروبست. مفروض است که خانواده‌ی او ریشه‌ی بربر داشته‌اند. پدرش پاتریسیوس بی‌ایمان بود و مادرش مونیکا، مسیحی‌ای معتقد. پدر، به رغم بی‌ایمانی، بر تفوق مهر مادری واقف بود و لاجرم هرگز در شیوه‌ی تربیتی مادر نسبت به فرزند، چون‌وچرا روا نداشت. از آن‌جا که پاتریسیوس ملاّکی خرده‌پا بود، بی آن که از تمکّن و تموّل آن‌چنانی برخوردار باشد، کمابیش از پسِ معیشت خانواده و تأمین هزینه‌ی تحصیل فرزند برمی‌آمد.

    آگوستین پسری هوش‌مند بود. از این رو او را به قصد تحصیل به مادورا، شهر مجاور تاگاست رهسپار کردند و با آن که در آن‌جا به تفریح، تفنن، و بازیگوشی روی آورد، از درس خواندن غافل نشد و فقط پس از اندکی وقفه، تدارک تحصیل متوسطه‌ی وی در کارتاژ دیده شد و همان‌جا بود که به رسم آن روزگار، فن بلاغت آموخت. سپس از طریق مطالعه‌ی مقولات عشر ارسطو، در جدل چیره‌دست شد. در ۱۹ سالگی هورتنیوس اثر سیسرون را مطالعه کرد و از این رهگذر، لهیب حکمت در جانش زبانه کشید. کتاب مقدس را نیز در همین سن برای اوّلین بار مطالعه کرد. امّا گرفتار مقایسه‌ی ترجمه‌ی نارسای کتاب مقدس به زبان لاتین با متون فاخری چون هورتنیوس و اِنه‌اید شد. گفتنی است این امر که خود از معضلات جامعه‌ی مسیحی آن روزگار به شمار می‌رفت، فرزانگان را به صرافت تنقیح و پیرایش نسخه‌ی موجود انداخت؛ هرچند که این تلاش، همچون هر گام تازه‌ای، دشواری‌هایی در پی داشت. در پی یافتن تفسیری کامل از هستی، از جمله درک مقولات خیر و شر و حل معضل قادر مطلق و ره یافتن به مبدأ از طریق ادله‌ی ساده، به مسلک مانی روی آورد. چه، به زعم خود در آیین ترسایان، دلایل عقلانی کم‌تر می‌یافت و مانویان نیز به او در حل معضلات فکری‌اش قول مساعد می‌دادند. آنان ابتدا بر مبانی فکری مسیحی خرده می‌گرفتند و سپس داعیه‌ی دلیل و برهان سر می‌دادند.

    با این‌همه، فقدان حجت وحیانی و عینی در دین مانی، اسباب تکدر خاطر آگوستین را فراهم آورد و موجب طرح مجادلات فراوانی از جانب وی به طرفیت مانویان شد. همچنین از طریق مطالعه در علوم طبیعی، افسانه‌پردازی‌های ایشان در باب مه و خورشید و فلک را به چالش کشید. از رهگذر مراوده با مانویان بود که به مسند ایراد خطابه در میلان دست یازید؛ شهری که مرکز ایتالیایی امپراتوری روم بود و آمبروسیوس در مسند اسقفی این شهر جلوس کرده بود. آگوستین پس از آن که در جانب وی مورد استقبال واقع شد، مدتی به استماع وعظ‌های او پرداخت و در عین حالی که مجذوب فن بیان او شده بود، به قدرت شگرف آمبروسیوس در تبیین و توضیح عهد عتیق پی برد.

    آمبروسیوس کتاب مقدس را از طریق تأویل بازخوانی می‌کرد و آموزه‌های افلاطون و فلوطین را در اامه‌ی ادله‌ی خویش به کار می‌بست و بدین‌ترتیب آگوستین به سرچشمه‌ای از معانی نوینِ حقیقت ازلی دست یافت. در همین زمان بود که زیبایی‌های کتاب مقدس را به مکاشفه نشست و به ظرافت، تفاوت خدای صانع افلاطونیان با خدای خالق مسیحیان را فهم کرد. سه سال بعد به همراه دوستش آلیپیوس و فرزند نامشروعش آدئوداتوس، مهیای تعمید شد. در همین سال مادرش مونیکا، هنگامی که از دست دغدغه‌ی خاطر برای ایمان آگوستین خلاصی می‌یابد، چشم از دنیا فرومی‌بندد.

    سفر آگوستین به میلان، پنج سال به طول انجامید و سپس به آفریقا بازگشت؛ جایی که خاطره‌ی مانویت او هنوز از حافظه‌ی جمعی آن زدوده نشده بود. لذا برای اثبات گسست خود از گذشته‌اش، باید وقت بسیاری را صرف ارائه‌ی مباحث ناب در جهت باورهای نوینش می‌کرد. وی بیش از سیزده رساله در رد آرای مانویان به رشته‌ی تحریر درآورد. گذشته از این‌ها، دو کتاب از میان آثار او، در زمره‌ی کتب مانای تاریخند؛ نخست اعترافات که در سال ۴۰۰م، یعنی در سال ۴۶ سالگی وی نوشته شده است و ناظر بر شرح زندگی و احوال اوست. و دوم، شهر خدا، که در واقع متشکل از دو بخش است: بخش عمده و غالب آن در دفاع از مسیحیت و رد اتهاماتی که توسط غیر مسیحیان رومی بر آیین مسیحیان وارد می‌آمد نوشته شده و مابقی، در بر گیرنده‌ی پاره‌ای دیدگاه‌های اجتماعی ـ سیاسی آگوستین است.

    کتاب حاضر، یعنی اعترافات، از نثری خودبسنده برخوردار است؛ نثری که سرشار از اندیشه‌ها وخاطره‌های شخصی و خانوادگی است و در ضمن واگویی و واکاوی آن خاطرات، عالی‌ترین افکار انتزاعی فلسفی و کلامی را در میان می‌گذارد؛ چنان‌که امروزه نیز اندیشه‌هایش درباره‌ی مباحثی مانند حافظه، زمان، و زبان، قابل تأمل است. در عین حال، کشش و جاذبه‌ی متن که از تجربه‌ای وجودی برمی‌خیزد، حتّی می‌تواند سرآغازی باشد برای افراد علاقه‌مند، امّا غیر متخصص در حوزه‌ی الهیات وجودی. چرا که پرده‌برداری از خفایای زندگی یک انسان کمال‌طلب، خود به منزله‌ی ارائه‌ی نمونه‌ای است برای کسانی که به حقیقت عشق می‌ورزند و سودای تبلیغ آن را در سر دارند.

  • Farren

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

  • Jill

    I can’t really rate this one but it was certainly interesting... not my favorite though.

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