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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, schooldays, sexual desire and adolescent rebellion, intense friendships and intellectual exploration. Augustine evolves and analyses his past with all the resources of the reading which shaped his mind: Virgil and Cicero, Neoplatonism and the Bible. This volume, which aims to be usable by students who are new to Augustine, alerts readers to the verbal echoes and allusions of Augustine's brilliant and varied Latin, and explains his theological and philosophical questioning of what God is and what it is to be human. The edition is intended for use by students and scholars of Latin literature, theology and Church history.

341 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 378

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About the author

Augustine of Hippo

1,669 books1,515 followers
Aurelius Augustinus Hipponensis, in English Augustine of Hippo, also known as St. Augustine, St. Austin, was bishop of Hippo Regius (present-day Annaba, Algeria). He was a Latin philosopher and theologian from the Africa Province of the Roman Empire and is generally considered as one of the greatest Christian thinkers of all times. His writings were very influential in the development of Western Christianity. According to his contemporary Jerome, Augustine "established anew the ancient Faith." In his early years he was heavily influenced by Manichaeism and afterward by the Neo-Platonism of Plotinus. After his conversion to Christianity and his baptism in 387, Augustine developed his own approach to philosophy and theology, accommodating a variety of methods and different perspectives. He believed that the grace of Christ was indispensable to human freedom, and he framed the concepts of original sin and just war. When the Western Roman Empire was starting to disintegrate, Augustine developed the concept of the Catholic Church as a spiritual City of God (in a book of the same name), distinct from the material Earthly City. His thoughts profoundly influenced the medieval worldview. Augustine's City of God was closely identified with the Church, the community that worshiped the Trinity. In the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion, he is a saint and pre-eminent Doctor of the Church. Many Protestants, especially Calvinists, consider him to be one of the theological fathers of the Protestant Reformation due to his teaching on salvation and divine grace. In the Eastern Orthodox Church he is also considered a saint. He carries the additional title of Blessed. Among the Orthodox, he is called "Blessed Augustine" or "St. Augustine the Blessed".

Santo Agostinho

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 3,316 reviews
Profile Image for K.D. Absolutely.
1,820 reviews
September 26, 2010
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: Saint Augustine (latin word for church father)of Hippo (354-430)
saint augustine

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:
Is it possible, lord, that, since you are in eternity, you are ignorant of what I am saying to you? Or, do you see in time an event at the time it occurs? If not, then why am I recounting such a tale of things to you? Certainly not in order to acquiant you with them through me; but, instead, that through them I may stir up my own love and the love of my readers toward you, so that all may say, "Great is the lord and greatly to be praised." I have said this before and will say it again. For love of your love I do it. So also we pray - and yet truth tells us, "Your father knows want things you need before you ask him." Consequently, we lay bare our feelings before you, so that, through our confessing to you our plight and your mercies towards us, you may go on to free us altogether, as you have already begun; and so that we may cease to be wretched in ourselves and blessed in you - since you have called us to be poor in spirit, meek, mourners, hungering and athirst for righteousness, merciful and pure in heart."

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.
Profile Image for Farren.
193 reviews53 followers
January 15, 2010
Are you there God? It's me, St. Augustine.
Profile Image for Darwin8u.
1,559 reviews8,690 followers
June 25, 2018
This experience sufficiently illuminates the truth that free curiosity has greater power to stimulate learning than rigorous coercion.
- Augustine, Confessions


Sublime and Original

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. :)
Profile Image for Sarah McCoy Isaacs.
66 reviews13 followers
August 22, 2009
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 same thing!, 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 De Trinitate 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 De Trinitate and later, "for fun," I was brazen enough to take on The City of God.

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 ad hoc 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 Confessions, 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.

Profile Image for Sean Wilson.
192 reviews
January 11, 2016
"Day after day I postponed living in you, but I never put off the death which I died each day in myself. I longed for a life of happiness but I was frightened to approach it in its own domain; and yet, while I fled from it, I still searched for it."

Reading Augustine of Hippo's Confessions 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 Confessions 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.

"But the time had now come when I stood naked before my own eyes, while my conscience upbraided me."

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.

"It is in my own mind, then, that I measure time. I must not allow my mind to insist that time is something objective. I must not let it thwart me because of all the different notions and impressions that are lodged in it."

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 Confessions 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.

That sleep may wearied limbs restore,
And fit for toil and use once more...
Saint Ambrose
Profile Image for Werner.
Author 3 books579 followers
August 28, 2021
As a first-semester college freshman needing an elective, I signed up for a speed-reading class. I never adopted any of the techniques the course touted, although I got an A in it; but the classroom had a paperback rack with various donated books we could practice on, and this was one I read. It turned out to be the most lasting educational benefit of the class, and did make a genuine intellectual impression on me. (Other than Lightfoot's translation of the Apostolic Fathers, which I read a few years later, this is the only reading in Patristics that I've ever done.)

Augustine (354-430 A.D.) was, of course, one of the major theologians in Christian history, and probably the most influential of the Latin Fathers, at least on the development of the church in the West. This is far from his only writing, and not his most important one; most scholars would give that accolade to The City Of God (which is on my to-read shelf). These two, though, are probably the two most widely read of his works. This one is not extremely long (a bit over 300 pages), and is divided into 13 “books,” each divided in turn into short, numbered chapters with numbered paragraphs. (The chapter numbers were added to the early printed editions of the 1400s and 1500s, and the paragraph numbers in the 17th century.) As the title implies, it's partially autobiographical; the first nine books telling the story of his early life, leading up to his Christian conversion at the age of 31, and continuing through his mother Monica's death a couple of years later, in 388. (By the time he wrote, he had already entered the priesthood and become a bishop, but this book doesn't continue his story that far.) Rather than being autobiographical, the last four books are mostly theological reflections, and so seem somewhat disconnected from the preceding nine.

Of course, I read this in English translation, but I no longer remember anything about the edition or the translator. (The copy I'm referring to now is of the 1991 translation by British scholar Henry Chadwick, a well-recognized authority on Augustine, published by Oxford Univ. Press. Besides a short bibliographical note, brief list of important dates in Augustine's life, and a bit over four-page index, it has a 16-page introduction, which would have been very helpful to me if the copy I read had included it.) It should be admitted that at the time of my life that I read this, I wasn't at the optimum place for appreciating it, either intellectually or spiritually (I'd become a Christian in high school, but still had no serious conception of discipleship and wasn't very familiar with the Bible). Also, as an intellectual who both studied and subsequently taught in the schools of that day, where teens and young men learned rhetoric and philosophy, Augustine was well versed in the classical Latin literary style, which can often come across as dry and ponderous, especially in the later “books.” (Then too, a particularly odd stylistic feature here is that the whole book is ostensibly addressed to God, not the reader, as though it were a 300+-page prayer. Though his attitude no doubt was prayerful in places, the fact that he's obviously writing this to be read by others makes the strictly God-ward address seem somewhat dishonest and gimmicky.) Although I did engage with the text, there's a good deal that didn't brand itself on my memory. And the reactions to various parts of the book that I do remember were both positive and negative.

One important aspect of the book that struck me is that this is very much a window into the mindset of ancient Platonic philosophy in the Hellenistic world, and its influence in shaping post-apostolic Gentile Christianity in its early centuries. (As I was learning in my early college years, this is a strand of philosophy which has pre-Platonic roots in the thought of Pythagoras, and ultimately in the Hindu worldview of the sages of India, with whom Pythagoras studied as a young man.) This was basically a worldview that glorified the non-corporeal (“spiritual”) and disparaged the physical world and the body. It reached its most extreme form in the Gnostic and Manichean heresies of Augustine's time (though these had precursors already in New Testament times, which Paul and other NT writers warn against), with the idea that the physical world is evil and not of Divine origin at all, and that salvation consists of the soul ridding itself of the evil body. As Augustine frankly discusses here, he was a committed Manichean as a young man; and he explains the reasoning and influences that led him eventually to reject that system, and to embrace Christianity with its belief in God as creator of the world and of Christ as truly incarnate in a human body. But despite his conversion, he didn't wholly jettison all of his Manichean attitudes. In one revealing passage here (chapter 31, paragraph 44 in Book 10), which had me rolling my eyes big-time, he speaks of God teaching him that food should only be taken like medicine, in the quantity just necessary for the sustenance of the body, which is always less than the quantity which would actually give “dangerous” pleasure in eating, which he seriously speaks of as “an insidious trap of uncontrolled desire,”and which he speaks of as a daily struggle against temptation. The contrast of this attitude with Scripture texts like Ecclesiastes 9:7 (“Go, eat your food with gladness....”) couldn't be more marked; we see here a glorification of asceticism that would express itself in things like monasticism, and the whole tradition of the “if you enjoy it, it's a sin!” school of pseudo-spirituality. (Augustine himself would become the founder of a monastic order, the Augustinians.) We can also see Platonic and Manichean roots for the penchant he displays here in a number of places for adopting allegorical interpretations of the Bible rather than straightforward readings of the text.

Despite his theoretical deploring of bodily impulses, Augustine is also frank (though never titillating) in his admission that, in his teens, he indulged in quite a bit of promiscuous sex. At the age of 17, he settled down to faithful cohabitation with a lower-class “concubine” (whom he never names, which struck me as sort of dehumanizing!), with whom he lived for about 13 years. (She bore him a son, Adeodatus, though sadly the boy died in his teens.) The year before his conversion, he dumped her in order to get engaged to an upper-class woman who could provide a dowry –though that marriage never took place, since he subsequently broke the engagement when he decided to enter the priesthood. (He kept custody of his son, though it's not explicit in the book whether or not that arrangement was what the boy's mother wanted.) Even granting that the long illicit union wasn't based on love (at least on his part), and that he was not yet at that time a Christian, his treatment of his partner impressed me then, and still does, as shabby. He deplores his own behavior in indulging in unmarried sex, but he never evinces much feeling of guilt about unkindness to a fellow human; and I'm inclined to see that blind spot as also related to his Manichean attitudes.

On a more positive note, a major take-away from this book was the insight into the nature of eternity: that God, as the eternal creator, created time itself along with the universe, but Himself exists outside of time, and experiences all time as something like an infinite, omniconscious present, rather than sequentially, the way that we do. As I've recently learned, this idea wasn't original with Augustine; he derived it from Plato (a more constructive contribution than some of the latter's other ideas!). But nonetheless, it makes considerable sense to me and explains some Biblical concepts in a way that I've found immensely helpful. I'm glad to have read the book on that account, even if it hadn't been illuminating in other ways. (There are some other deep philosophical concepts dealt with here as well.)

Although Augustine is perhaps best known as the first Christian theologian to explicitly advocate the doctrine (with which I personally disagree vehemently) of unconditional double predestination of humans to either salvation or damnation, with no volition on their part, a view which later greatly influenced John Calvin, he doesn't go into that at all here (at least, not that I can recall). He describes his own conversion and the lead-up to it in considerable detail (and his was a fairly dramatic conversion experience); but as he tells it here, there's no indication that its climax was anything other than a voluntary turning to God through Christ.
Profile Image for Murtaza .
664 reviews3,401 followers
February 11, 2019
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. The Confessions 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.
Profile Image for Valeriu Gherghel.
Author 6 books1,303 followers
February 7, 2022
„Ce ești tu, Doamne, pentru mine? Îndură-te de mine ca să pot spune!”

Nimic nu pare mai evident şi, totodată, mai obscur decît adevăratul destinatar al Confesiunilor sfîntului Augustin. Dumnezeu este invocat la tot pasul şi, totuşi, Dumnezeu fiind omniscient prin definiţie nu are nevoie să-i asculte mărturisirea. Știe deja ce va rosti autorul. Și atunci care e semnificația titlului?

Titlul anunță, evident, o mărturisire a lui Dumnezeu (destinatarul prim al ei): „Pe Tine, Doamne te mărturisesc și te slăvesc ca pe unicul meu Stăpîn”. La fel de evident, al doilea destinatar al acestei mărturisiri este turma de păcătoși. Augustin îl mărturisește pe Dumnezeu și îl ia ca garant suprem al sincerității sale. Dumnezeu e o dovadă a veracității narațiunii: „Povestea convertirii mele este adevărată, fiindcă, iată, îl iau ca martor pe însuși Dumnezeu”.

Probabil că nu ar fi cu totul inutil să recapitulez semnificaţiile principale ale verbului confiteor. El semnifică a face cunoscut, a vădi, a revela, a destăinui, a arăta, a recunoaște un adevăr interior (unui confessor). În al doilea rînd, cum am sugerat deasupra „confiteor” semnifică a-l slăvi, a-l preamări pe Dumnezeu. Și, în al treilea rînd, el introduce mărturisirea de credință: „Cred... Sînt unul dintre creștini...”.
„Fiindcă vorbesc înaintea ta, Doamne, aș vrea să spun întregul adevăr” (XIII: 27).
Profile Image for India M. Clamp.
215 reviews
January 3, 2023
In the undertaking of reading The Confessions of St. Augustine, I discovered quickly that it was an auspicious text. St. Augustine’s reflection on his battle rejecting the flashy attractions of the world and embrace the Catholic faith provides a paradigm to many of us in the POVID microcosm who struggle with this dilemma on a quotidian basis.

Utilizing numerous scriptural references and detailed recollections, Saint Augustine recants the story of his struggle to accept the Catholic faith and reject his desires (bordering on hedonism). Generally the writing is without frivolous accentation---and to my delight---St. Augustine’s humor peeps through at times. Confessions encourages the government of life via the mind of a Saint.

"The decayed parts of you will receive a new flowering, and all your sicknesses will be healed."
(Matt. 4: 23; Ps. 102: 3).

His classic prayer of Grant me chastity and continence, but please not yet illustrates a struggle familiar to us who desires such that does not enhance the intellect. When it was presented as a question---what God was doing before He made heaven and earth – “He was preparing hell for people who ask questions too deep for them” caused laughter.

Conclusively, this book is the journey of a man searching for inner peace that is given by God. After tasting many earthly pleasures, he finally accepts the Lord into his life and ultimately achieves the goal of becoming an ordained bishop. Exceptional read---penned by a Saint. I recommend this for all fans of Thomas Aquinas.
In susceptione legendi Confessionum S. Augustini, cito detexi textum illum auspicatum fuisse. S. Augustinus in meditatione de proelio suo ad amoenitates mundi respuendas et catholicam fidem amplectendam paradigma praebet multis nobis in Microcosmo POVID, qui cum hac dilemma cottidiano fundamento luctantur.

Multis scriptorum testimoniis et recordationibus accuratis adhibitis, sanctus Augustinus narrat de suo personali certamine suscipiendae fidei catholicae eiusque desideria quae hedonismo finitima sunt repudiant. Plerumque scriptura sine frivola accentu est, et in oblectatione mea S. Augustini humor interdum percurrit.

" Debiles partes vestrum novum florem recipietis, et omnes languores vestros sanabuntur."
(Matth. 4, 23; Ps. 102, 3).

Eius classica oratio: Da mihi castitatem et continentiam, sed nondum placet certamen nobis familiare illustratum, qui intellectum non auget. Cum praesentatus est tamquam quaestio - quid Deus faceret antequam caelum et terram faceret - Infernum parabat hominibus qui profundius interrogationes pro eis interrogabant. Risum effecit.

Prorsus hic liber est iter hominis pacem interiorem quaerentis, ut soli Deo detur. Cum multas voluptates terrenas gustasset, Dominum tandem in suam vitam accipit ac finem tandem consequitur ut in Episcopum ordinatum fiat. Eximia lectione exara- tione S. . Hoc commendo omnibus fans Thomae Aquinatis.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Michael O'Brien.
307 reviews82 followers
December 16, 2022
This is an introspective book. In it, St. Augustine traces his spiritual journey — from the hedonism and materialism of his early youth — to intellectual pursuits of secular philosophy, academic success, and worldly wisdom — to attempting to reach God via alternative spirituality, a blend of false asceticism, skepticism of scripture, and a cafeteria approach to truths of the Church — then, finally, to full repentance from these to acceptance of and obedience to Jesus Christ and His Church.

Augustine critically examines each thought process within each of these stages of his life. It’s a long process — as it has been also for those on similar spiritual journeys.

There is a poetry and a beauty to much of his writing. In other places, however, Augustine seems stuck in a rut as he ruminates at length on some aspect of one of his life’s events or periods that can make it seem plodding at times.

In other places, such as near the end — as seemed his wont to do in “City of God” — he seemingly gets sidetracked into long philosophical, intellectual discussions. In one chapter, he does this on the topic of time. I found it very dull, and, although he weaves God’s nature of timelessness into the discussion, it seemed almost an effort to appeal to debates among the pagan and atheist philosophers of his day.

However, over all, “Confessions “ deserves its place as one of the great works of Early Christianity — the story of a man who made that difficult journey from the empty trifles of a world in decline to a place of building a close relationship with God via the life of the Church. I recommend it for those interested in the Early Church, in theology or philosophy, or in Christian spiritual growth and progress.
Profile Image for Greg Garrett.
Author 46 books69 followers
April 4, 2012
I used to hate Augustine of Hippo. I found him too anxious, too focused on the sexual sins he was sure he was committing, and too sure about the fallen nature of human beings. The Confessions changed all that for me. It's like how when you meet someone you can't judge them in the same way any more; The Confessions helped me understand that Augustine--like everyone--was trying to understand his life, his place in the world, and his motivations for doing things. Most importantly, The Confessions helped me understand my own yearning for something bigger than myself, and why placing myself front and center had always been disastrous, and always would be. Augustine has made me a wiser person, surely--I understand God, people, politics, art, and beauty better thanks to him--but he's also made me a better writer and critic, and this is the best place to make his acquaintance (and for some, to finish. Augustine was trained as a classical orator, and he is not an easy read, even in a good translation like this).
Profile Image for Paul Haspel.
543 reviews69 followers
November 1, 2022
Confession is said to be good for the soul; and the Confessions of Saint Augustine of Hippo are good for any person’s soul, regardless of their religious or philosophical beliefs. There is something profoundly compelling in the rigorous, uncompromising manner in which Augustine describes the way he consciously, by an ongoing act of will, worked to bring his magnificent intellect into conformity with the dictates of Christianity – and gave God all the credit for the outcome.

Some scholars have referred to the Confessions as the first true autobiography, or at least the first spiritual autobiography; and as with other masterpieces of autobiography in later years – Richard Wright’s American Hunger, Annie Dillard’s An American Childhood, the autobiographies of Benjamin Franklin and Malcolm X – Augustine’s Confessions benefits from the author’s unflinching, warts-and-all portrayal of his life.

Among its other benefits, the Confessions does much to put one back in the time of the Roman Empire’s first decades as a Christian state. It was a time when Western Christianity grappled with a great many other strains of thought. Augustine is frank, for example, in setting forth what he once found seductive about Manichaean philosophy, with its belief that, because evil is so different from good, it had to be the subject of a completely different creation, the work of some being other and lesser than God Himself:

“Since I still had enough reverence, of some sort, to make it impossible for me to believe that the good God created an evil nature, I posited two masses at odds with each other, both infinite, the bad with limited, the good with broader scope. From this pestiferous origin there followed other blasphemies. If my mind tried to recur to the Catholic faith, I was made to recoil, since the Catholic faith was not what I made it out to be” (pp. 100-01).

Here, as elsewhere, I thought that Augustine was being awfully hard on himself; but his conclusions follow logically from his premises. Evil actions proceed from the imperfections of human nature as stained by original sin. For good actions, the glory belongs to God, who is all good and inspires all good action.

Augustine is comparably unsparing in condemning himself for the sinful ways of his youth. A chapter on the theft of pears, written perhaps with an eye toward Adam and Eve’s own theft of fruit from the tree of knowledge in Chapter 3 of Genesis, becomes for Augustine a parable for the nature of sin generally; the fruit of the pear tree was “not enticing either in appearance or in taste”, but Augustine and his friends continued to steal, because “Simply what was not allowed allured us” (p. 32).

And Augustine is just as tough on himself when it comes to sexual behavior – though he admits that his sins did not go as far as those of his fellows. Moreover, a large part of his sexual life seems to have involved a long-term, monogamous, mutually faithful relationship with a woman who eventually bore Augustine a son. This is not exactly fleshpots-of-Egypt stuff; but nonetheless, Augustine looks back at this part of his life in terms of how it took him away from God.

Augustine, who loves God so, nonetheless reserves some of his fondest words of love for his mother Monnica – a devout Christian who never gave up hope while encouraging her son to leave his secular ways and embrace the Christian faith: “Her flesh brought me forth to live in this daylight, as her heart brought me forth to live in eternal light” (p. 196). That process of conversion involved Augustine going from North Africa to Milan, making friends with fellow converts, and eventually receiving baptism and holy orders; and his early training as a rhetorician (he praises Cicero’s Hortensius as a book that “changed my life”) made him a most eloquent, tenacious defender of the Christian faith.

Along with describing the process by which he became a Christian – much of it in the second person, addressing God directly – Augustine of Hippo includes some thoughtful theological reflections of the kind that he would eventually build upon further in The City of God. Readers who enjoy close reading and exegesis of Scriptural passages will enjoy those passages of the Confessions in which Augustine looks at the opening passages of Genesis, speculating on the manner in which time came out of God’s timeless eternity, and working to reconcile seeming paradoxes in Genesis regarding references to God alternately in the singular and the plural. Augustine reconciles that seeming contradiction thus:

“For you make [humankind] capable of understanding the Trinity of your unity and the unity of your Trinity, from its being said in the plural ‘Let us make,’ followed by the singular ‘and God made man,’ and from its being said in the plural ‘to our pattern,’ followed by the singular ‘to God’s pattern.’” (pp. 337-38)

This edition of the Confessions of Saint Augustine is noteworthy in that it was translated by the noted scholar and author Garry Wills, a renowned classicist and devout Catholic who nonetheless has been willing to criticize his beloved church whenever he has felt that, as a human institution, it has erred in its mission of bringing humankind closer to God. Wills also provides a perceptive and helpful introduction, though I can’t help thinking that footnotes of the kind that grace other Penguin Classics books might have helped further.

By the time Augustine wrote the Confessions, between 397 and 400 A.D., Christianity had already been made the official religion of the Roman Empire, in accordance with the emperor Theodosius I’s promulgation of the Edict of Thessalonica in 380 A.D. Yet it was still a world in which believers in Christian and pre-Christian religions competed for adherents, proselytes, converts. No one of his time worked on behalf of, or defended, the Christian faith with greater consistency or strength of heart than Saint Augustine of Hippo. His Confessions are inspiring, for that reason alone, to anyone who has ever cared enough about an idea to fight for it.
Profile Image for James.
155 reviews37 followers
October 7, 2011
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.
Profile Image for Mahdi Lotfi.
447 reviews96 followers
August 8, 2017
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 ��ر 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 تجربه��ای 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.
Profile Image for Laysee.
500 reviews233 followers
July 5, 2022
For a whole month, I spent time learning from St. Augustine. I was not a very good student and some days I threw a hissy fit and refused to read any more. I almost wanted to bail out because the spiritual concepts were difficult to fathom. I was glad, therefore, to buddy-read this important work with Ebba Simone. This gave me the extra impetus to persevere and finish reading it.

Even though this book was rather weighty in issues raised for contemplation, I was very impressed and encouraged by Augustine’s love for God and his desire to seek after Him. I was also humbled by his sincerity and honesty in sharing his spiritual journey. Augustine’s conversion story was fascinating. His confessions took the form of conversations with God, which revealed a closeness I covet. It is no small gift that Augustine was willing to grant us access to his private thoughts and struggles as well as his insights, gratitude, and comfort.

Augustine of Hippo (13 November 354 – 28 August 430), also known as Saint Augustine, was a theologian and philosopher of Berber origin and the bishop of Hippo Regius in Numidia, Roman North Africa. Confessions was written sixteen centuries ago. An autobiographical work, it outlined his wayward youth and his conversion to Christianity.

Augustine was a very bright student at Carthage where he won prizes for poetry composition. He loved the theatre where he could vicariously taste eroticism. He had an illustrious liberal education and became a professor of rhetoric. He claimed that he taught his students skills that could save the life of guilty rather than innocent people. From his late teens to young adulthood, Augustine believed in the myths of Manichee. The Manichees were a cult that taught a version of the doctrine of the Trinity, a Christology which excluded the reality of the humanity of Christ. Augustine also dabbled with astrology for a time. A very important influence was Monica, Augustine’s mother who prayed and wept over his waywardness. A bishop she consulted and begged to talk to Augustine but declined, said to her, “Go away from me: as you live, it cannot be that the son of these tears should perish.” I found this moving.

There are thirteen books in this autobiography. The first four books and Book VIII, which chronicled Augustine’s life, were to me the most interesting. The other books contained Augustine’s exploration of evil and its origin, memory, time and eternity, and creation (how the world came to exist). He pursued these topics with an intensity that I was unequal to. What held me was his deep devotion to God that found expression in prayer and praise, which were often touching and beautiful.

I believe that the ictus to Augustine’s ‘Confessions’ can be summed up in this thought which he articulated and is often quoted:

“You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in You.”

This was exemplified in Augustine’s own life. It is also a theme expressed in varied ways throughout this work. Rest was a fitting conclusion to this autobiography where we are directed to the final sabbath rest of eternity.

I have penned a gist of my thoughts and summary to each of the thirteen books. Consider it a spoiler of sorts if you wish to read this book.
Profile Image for Quirkyreader.
1,514 reviews41 followers
June 24, 2019
This was a newer translation that completely spoke to me.

What I especially enjoyed was that all the scripture that he referenced in his work was noted down. It took me a while to read this one because I read all of the Bible passages noted in the work.

I can see way this book has been such an inspiration for people over the years.

While reading this I was highlighting like crazy in my Bible app. Word of advice, if you read this edition and want to read all the passages, having a Bible app will make it easier. I was constantly switching between different translations because St. Augustine used the Latin Vulgate when he was writing this. And some of the books he referenced aren’t found in a common translation of the Bible.

Reading this book was a very joyful time.
Profile Image for James Henderson.
2,010 reviews166 followers
September 5, 2022
Rereading this book I am reminded once again how powerful it is and how modern it seems to be. 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 is both an apologetic account of his intellectual search for understanding and wisdom, yet in pursuing that search finding a rootlessness due to an ultimate dissatisfaction with different philosophical positions that he explores. 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. The certainty for which Augustine strives is not found in philosophy alone, but rather in faith, only Christian faith, is this certainty possible for him. Having recently read Cicero myself, I was impressed that Cicero's writing had an important impact on Augustine.

His relations with his mother, Monica, are among those that still have impact on the modern reader. The combination of his personal insights, relations with friends and teachers, and the unusual (for his time) psychological portrait make one realize that this is one of those "Great" books that remind you that true insight into the human condition transcends time and place.
Profile Image for Katie.
439 reviews265 followers
January 18, 2013
St. Augustine’s Confessions is such a lovely and honest book. I’d recommend it to everyone, if people who aren’t remotely religious. It’s one of those works that really manages to encapsulate certain feelings and articulate them in ways that are clear but also sort of startling in their clarity, saying obvious things in ways you’d never quite thought of before.

Take this bit from Book 8: “In my heart I kept saying ‘Let it be now, let it be now!’ and merely by saying this I was on the point of making the resolution. I was on the point of making it, but I did not succeed. Yet I did not fall back into my old state. I stood on the brink of resolution, waiting to take a fresh breath…And the closer I came to the moment whichw as to mark the great change in me, the more I shrank from it in horror. But it did not drive me back or turn me from my purpose: it merely left me hanging in suspense.”

It’s a distinctly theological feeling for Augsustine, but I also think it’s just generally a human one, and that’s what makes this book such a joy to read. Augustine is also just a lovely writer, and he’s honest and inquisitive about himself, his God, and his world. It’s one of the most accessible ways to get a look at the worldview of an early medieval Christian.

There are also two sections on memory and time (books 10 and 11) that are just loads of fun.
Profile Image for Odai Al-Saeed.
875 reviews2,417 followers
May 11, 2018
هي نوع من االاعترافات التي يقوم بها العقائديوين المتشددون بصورة تجليات نثرية مملة تعبر عن مدى مازوشية وحب لجلد الذات بصورة غير مبررة تستجدي من خلالها رغبة نرجسية لجلب اتباع ومريديين......... فقط ما أشيد به هي الترجمة التي ترجمت من اللاتينية الى العربية لم تكن سهلة .... رتيب
Profile Image for J. Sebastian.
68 reviews59 followers
October 26, 2022
Confessions ~ Saint Augustine
In the opinion of some highly respected friends, Augustine’s Confessions is the greatest book ever written, though it is difficult to see how the book could have come to be without the Bible standing before it. Nor could Augustine have been the same A1, the protagonist of the biography, or A2, the author of The Confessions whom we have come to know, without Cicero’s Hortensius or Vergil’s Aeneid, books that were influential in his life, books which in turn, could not have been written without The Annals of Quintus Ennius or The Iliad and The Odyssey of Homer. Everything in the tradition is connected, and in the tradition the story of man is always a quest to get back home.

Homer’s Odyssey is the story of an exile attempting to return home. Vergil’s Aeneid is the story of an exile seeking the fated place upon which to establish a new home (and this journey too emerges as a return, for the Trojans are originally Ausonians). There are beautiful parallels between the journeys of Aeneas and Augustine: both of them stop in Carthage on their way to Rome. Augustine’s Confessions, like the parable of the prodigal son, is also the story of a journey home, a journey that can only end in the Kingdom of Heaven; this he reveals in the first paragraph of his address to God: Tu excitas, ut laudare te delectet, quia fecisti nos ad te et inquietum est cor nostrum, donec requiescat in te.“You move us to delight in praising you, because you made us for yourself, and our heart is restless, until it rests in you” (I. i (1).

Whereas Odysseus and Aeneas make their journies on the physical and horizontal earthly plane, Augustine’s (and every man’s) homeward journey is the vertical ascent of the soul in its return to God. In his Nichomachean Ethics Aristotle had already discovered that all men desire to be happy, and Cicero in his Hortensius had connected happiness to the love and pursuit of wisdom: Philosophy. “Seek Wisdom” is also the message of the Biblical Book of Proverbs. God is that wisdom that offers permanent, enduring, eternal happiness, not merely some temporal passing image of the thing (of which a drunken beggar on the streets of Milan offers one illustration, for that beggar will thirst again), but the water welling up to eternal life that quenches thirst forever (Jn. 4:13-15). Our heart is restless, until it rests in you.

Indeed, all men are restless; all are pursuing happiness. Some spend their lives in the pursuit of things that they believe will make them happy: sex, opium, wine, fame, money, professional ambissions, political power. Augustine discovers that his weight is his love, that wherever he is carried, his love is carrying him (XIII.ix (1). The proper home of man is ultimately where the Father dwells in the Heaven of Heaven, but to arrive there one must be lifted up by placing one’s love in the Father. Otherwise, our love for earthly things––even beautiful earthly things––pulls us downwards and away and we are lost in a sea of woes; the only thing that will heal man’s restlessness is a return to the father. This is the human condition: God is often referred to as the Great Physician, man is the patient, sin is the sickness. Augustine reflects that we must have some memory of happiness, some idea of what the thing is, for otherwise, without any recollection of it, we would not even know to be looking for it. Where has this memory come from, if it is not some genetic memory of Eden lost?

The Confessions are revealed across thirteen books, all of which are biographical, but of which the last four show us Augustine, already a converted Christian, in contemplation of deep wonders, relying on God and scripture to help him understand memory, time and eternity, formless matter, and an interpretation of the account of creation in Genesis, that is as beautiful as it is deep. He discusses the Trinity as well, and says that the unity of the Trinity is obvious to anyone through introspection, and this invites comparison of man with God through the tripartite organization of the Platonic soul. Earlier in the book there are sections delving into the problem of evil in the world, the possible coexistence of absolute and relative ethics, friendship. True friendship, is only possible between those who share the holy spirit.

Throughout all twelve books there are beautiful passages. Augustine is a professional rhetorician––though he abandons this carreer eventually. He is also the most intelligent man in the Roman Empire of his day, and he likely knows this––in his Confessions he gives an account of time and eternity in AD 400 that physicists today continue to agree with––and yet he is completely incapable of overcoming his own lust, but he continues to pursue wisdom, and eventually discovers its Source, receives the necessary grace finally to let go of his passions, reaches out instead to accept Lady Chastity in a vision, and is healed forever.

This is the seventh time that I have read this book; I always finish it at a time of year when I am so busy with other things, that I have never had time for an adequate review. The same is now the case, and I can do no justice to the beauty, depth, and richness of The Confessions (perhaps it is not even possible for me) but I shall briefly collect here and point out some of the beautiful passages in the book that I have found moving:

On his mother
But I shall not pass over whatever my soul may bring to birth concerning your servant [Monica], who brought me to birth both in her body so that I was born into the light of time, and in her heart so that I was born into the light of eternity (IX. viii (17).

On his first encounter with holy scripture
I therefore decided to give attention to the holy scriptures and to find out what they were like. And this is what met me: something neither open to the proud nor laid bare to mere children; a text lowly to the beginner but, on further reading, of mountainous difficulty and enveloped in mysteries. I was not in any state to be able to enter into that, or to bow my head to climb its steps. What I am now saying did not then enter my mind when I gave my attention to the scripture. It seemed to me unworthy in comparison with the dignity of Cicero. My inflated conceit shunned the Bible’s restraint, and my gaze never penetrated to its inwardness. Yet the Bible was composed in such a way that as beginners mature, its meaning grows with them. I disdained to be a little beginner. Puffed up with pride, I considered myself a mature adult (III. v. (9).

Of his hope of return to the Father and of the beauty of Heaven
O house full of light and beauty! ‘I have loved your beauty and the place of the habitation of the glory of my Lord’ (Ps. 25: 7-9), who built you and owns you. During my wandering may my longing be for you! I ask him who made you that he will also make me his property in you, since he also made me. ‘I have gone astray like a sheep that is lost’ (Ps. 118: 176). But on the shoulders of my shepherd, who built you, I hope to be carried back to you (Luke 15: 4 f.) (XII. xv (21).

Of memory
I come to the fields and vast palaces of memory (X. viii (12). . . Memory’s huge cavern, with its mysterious, secret, and indescribable nooks and crannies (X. viii (13). . . The vast hall of my memory (X. viii (14).

This power of memory is great, very great, my God. It is a vast and infinite profundity. Who has plumbed its bottom? This power is that of my mind and is a natural endowment, but I myself cannot grasp the totality of what I am. Is the mind, then, too restricted to compass itself, so that we have to ask what is that element of itself which it fails to grasp? Surely that cannot be external to itself; it must be within the mind. How then can it fail to grasp it? This question moves me to great astonishment. Amazement grips me. People are moved to wonder by mountain peaks, by vast waves of the sea, by broad waterfalls on rivers, by the all-embracing extent of the ocean, by the revolutions of the stars. But in themselves they are uninterested. They experience no surprise that when I was speaking of all these things, I was not seeing them with my eyes (X. ix (15).


Of memory Augustine elsewhere discovers that it is full of the images of things, and not the true objects themselves, but there are other things in memory which turn out to be the true things themselves, of which in the external world we contemplate the mere images through our sense-perception, e.g. a mathematical form. Is God as well like this within our memory? Augustine has his visions, by looking within, and making the climb upwards into the citadel of his mind, from where with his mind’s eye he looks upward to encounter the light that is life and wisdom, the light that has created him. (These things invite comparison with the analogy of the cave in Plato’s Republic.

And here is one final extended passage from the eleventh book where Augustine speaks to God in prayer, before embarking upon an exploration of time and eternity. There is no incompatibility between faith and science:

(3) Lord my God, ‘hear my prayer’ (Ps. 60: 2), may your mercy attend to my longing which burns not for my personal advantage but desires to be of use in love to the brethren. You see in my heart that this is the case. Let me offer you in sacrifice the service of my thinking and my tongue, and grant that which I am to offer, ‘for I am poor and needy’ (Ps. 65: 15; 85: 1). You are ‘rich to all who call upon you’ (Rom. 10: 12). You have no cares but take care of us. Circumcise my lips (cf. Exod. 6: 12), inwardly and outwardly, from all rashness and falsehood. May your scriptures be my pure delight, so that I am not deceived in them and do not lead others astray in interpreting them. ‘Lord, listen and have mercy’ (Ps. 26: 7; 85: 3), Lord my God, light of the blind and strength of the weak––and constantly also light of those who can see and strength of the mighty. Listen to my soul and hear it crying from the depth. For if your ears are not present also in the depth, where shall we go? To whom shall we cry? ‘The day is yours and the night is yours’ (Ps. 73: 16). At your nod the moments fly by. From them grant us space for our meditations on the secret recesses of your law, and do not close the gate to us as we knock. It is not for nothing that by your will so many pages of scripture are opaque and obscure. These forests are not without deer which recover their strength in them and restore themselves by walking and feeding, by resting and ruminating (Ps. 28: 9). O Lord, bring me to perfection (Ps. 16: 5) and reveal to me the meaning of these pages. See, your voice is my joy, your voice is better than a wealth of pleasures (Ps. 118: 22). Grant what I love; for I love it, and that love was your gift. Do not desert your gifts, and do not despise your plant as it thirsts. Let me confess to you what I find in your books. ‘Let me hear the voice of praise’ (Ps. 25:7) and drink you, and let me consider ‘wonderful things out of your law’ (Ps. 118:18)––from the beginning in which you made heaven and earth until the perpetual reign with you in your heavenly city (Rev. 5: 10; 21: 2).

(4) ‘Lord have mercy upon me and listen to my desire’ (Ps. 26: 7). For I do not think my longing is concerned with earthly things, with gold and silver and precious stones, or with fine clothes or honours and positions of power or fleshly pleasures or even with the body’s necessities in this life of our pilgrimage. They are all things added to us as we seek your kingdom and your righteousness (Matt. 6: 33). My God, look upon the object of my desire (cf. Ps. 9: 14). ‘The wicked have told me of delights, but they are not allowed by your law, Lord’ (Ps. 118: 85). See Father: look and see and give your approval. May it please you that in the sight of your mercy (Ps. 18: 15) I may find grace before you, so that to me as I knock (Matt. 7: 7) may be opened the hidden meaning of your words. I make my prayer through our Lord Jesus Christ your Son, ‘the man of your right hand, the Son of man whom you have strengthened’ (Ps. 79: 18) to be mediator between yourself and us. By him you sought us when we were not seeking you (Rom. 10: 20). But you sought us that we should seek you, your Word by whom you made all things including myself, your only Son by whom you have called to adoption the people who believe (Gal. 4: 5), myself among them. I make my prayer to you through him ‘who sits at your right hand and intercedes to you for us’ (Rom. 8: 34). ‘In him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge’ (Col. 2: 3). For those treasures I search in your books. Moses wrote of him (John 5: 46). He himself said this; this is the declaration of the Truth. (XI.ii (3-4).


So, what is real treasure? Are the Kingdoms of Latinus or of Croesus the more beautiful, or is it the Kingdom of Evander, or the Kingdom of the man who remains silent when Pontius Pilate asks, “What is truth?”

In Jerome’s Vulgate, the question is put thus: Quid est veritas? Jesus does not speak, but if we jumble all the letters about, we may anagrammatically construct, with perfect economy, the following response: Est vir qui adest––“It is the man standing here before you.”

If you are lost or struggling to find your way back home. He is the way, and Augustine will be a good friend and companion on the journey home. Read this book! :-)
Profile Image for booklady.
2,235 reviews65 followers
April 11, 2022
I will be forever grateful that I did Professor Cook and Professor Herzman's Course, St. Augustine's Confessions on this classic work of antiquity, so misunderstood today. If you plan to read this book, do yourself a favor and take this course.

The most important thing Professor’s Cook and Herzman's Course taught me was something which I felt but could not articulate and that is St. Augustine’s Confessions, although often classified as an autobiography, is actually a PRAYER.

It is not a diary or a set of memoirs. Augustine is not justifying or excusing himself; he is talking to His God, literally in confession and as Augustine knows that God is omniscient, there is no point in trying to impress Him. So instead, he begs forgiveness for his actions and praises God for His forbearance, Goodness, and Love.

This is not a book to be read once or twice, casually or without some assistance. Once upon a time it used to be part of the Western canon and was included in religious as well as secular reading programs. Now you will be lucky to find it even mentioned as suggested reading in Catholic universities. It is an amazing book, staggering in its brilliance, yet sadly neglected. I am truly at a loss when I think about how to review it in a way which it deserves.

We talk about ‘Social Justice’ today but in fact we are reinventing the wheel. The ancients, especially Augustine, understood very well about Justice in Society and how difficult it was to establish. It is exactly what he was trying to explain in his story of the stealing of the pears.

This was only my fourth (or fifth?) read; some parts I have read more than that. God willing, it will not be my last because I truly do not think I have scratched the surface of all that is here. But then I know I would also like to go on and read more of the writings of this great Saint, Doctor and Father of the Church. We shall see...

10 stars if I could!

I don't write reviews for likes. I write my reviews according to what I believe and people either agree with me or not, often as not they don't, which is fine. They are entitled to their views just as I am to mine. But in this case, I care tremendously that it be known what an amazing book The Confessions is and that it is every bit a FIVE star book, so I am rereading it in order to write the best review I know how...

I do realize ratings are subjective, just as much as likes are ... but ... but ... 3 stars for the most popular review for The Confessions!? 😰 Oh my, what is this world coming too?!

At the same time, I know I shall never be able to do this book or St. Augustine justice. The best I can do is to pick out things I like, record and comment on my thoughts/reactions and reflect on points which have touched me along this fourth or fifth journey through this book. Mostly I like Augustine's honesty. His brash call-it-like-it-is honesty. I am not familiar with many people who talk like he does. Most people I know are too busy hiding, trying to impress each other with what they know. I know I do the same and hate myself when I catch myself doing it, making myself sound better than I am. That's why his humility is something I want to dive into, or shout out, "Me too, God! He is talking about me as well!"

Second reading 12-30 August 2004

I wish I could remember the first time I read Confessions but it was sometime back in the mid-90s and that is the closest I can narrow it down. If I had several hours to kill, I could go digging in my old book logs, and find the exact date. Since I don't have that kind of time at the moment, I'll just settle for the second time I read the book which was when I took a class in Spiritual Classics. It was the first book we read in the class and an excellent introduction to St. Augustine--but it's only the tip of the iceberg! He's a complex man, saint, philosopher, theologian, bishop, doctor of the Church, author, etc. Fascinating book; most highly recommended. Part of the canon of Western Literature!
430 reviews22 followers
July 20, 2022
This is one of the most life changing book I have read. I shall give a full review at a later date.
Profile Image for Manny.
110 reviews54 followers
December 13, 2017
The first nine Books are brilliant, revolutionary, both as a confession and as theology. I wish Augustine had ended it there, and I wish someone could explain why he doesn’t end it there. But given I’m a slacker, I guess I don’t deserve an explanation. I’m sure it’s what I said before: “It probably all relates to the nature of humanity, the nature of God, the nature of His creation, and the nature of sin, all in the context of Augustine's early life and conversion. I just don't understand it...lol.” The last four books are way too philosophical for me, but I am assured that it ranks with the great philosophers.

I do like Kerstin’s final questions. Let me take a crack at them.

What did you think of the book overall?
Brilliant, difficult, insightful, revolutionary, honest, unlike anything in its day. Finally I think holy. His voice of continuous prayer just exudes holiness.

What surprised you?
How the entire book was one long, continuous prayer to God. An actual confession.

What touched you?
His relationship with his mother. We all know how much she loved him through her constant prayer for his conversion, but he apparently had the same love for her, and in his times I’m not sure how common that was. That moment after his conversion and just before she dies where they sit in the garden and contemplate heaven is very striking. And of course his prayer for her soul at the end of chapter nine was most touching.

What made you laugh?
I don’t know if this is funny (probably not) but a heck of a lot of his friends kept dying from fever. If I ever read Confessions again I’m going to have to count how many.

What inspired you?
The continuous prayer. His prayerful voice just entered my ear and has stayed there. It’s a wonderful way to speak to God, an almost constant confession, with praise and blessings thrown in.
Profile Image for Shyam.
226 reviews158 followers
March 10, 2019
Entrust to the Truth all that you have from the Truth, and you shall lose nothing. The parts of you that are withered shall bloom again, and all your illnesses shall be healed. (4.11.16)

Seek what you seek, but it is not where you seek it. You seek a life of blessedness in the land of death; it is not there. How can there be a blessed life in a place where there is not even life itself? (4.12.18)

As for those who think there is another life, they are chasing after another joy, and not the true one. (10.22.32)

Going in with most works 'blind' (so to speak) as I like to do, I had no idea that Augustine’s Confessions was so suffused with the former's religious experience. The work is strongly interwoven with Scripture, but apart from this, Augustine muses on many topics such as Beauty, Memory, and Metaphysics.

A nice work, and great translation.
For as we grow up, we weed such habits out of ourselves and throw them away; but I have never known any wise farmer, when weeding his plot, to throw good plants out with the bad. (1.7.11)

And yet we did sin . . . We paid less attention to our books than was expected of us. (1.9.15)

Adults have their games, which they dignify by the name of 'business'. (1.9.15)

It is but vanity to make a profession of these earthly things . . . (5.5.8)

They think they are radiant and exalted as the stars of heaven, when all the while they have fallen headlong to earth, and their heart is darkened in its folly. (5.3.5)

The daily ruin of our body is called ‘pleasure’. (10.31.43)

As for the reason why I hated the Greek literature in which I was steeped as a boy—for that I have still found no satisfactory explanation. I had fallen in love with Latin literature . . . (1.13.20)

I confess I was eager to learn these books, for they were the joy of my wretched life. (1.16.26)

But it was not surprising that I was drifting off towards these vanities . . . considering what sort of men were held up to me as examples to imitate. (1.18.28)

Around me lay the quagmire of carnal desire, bubbling with the springs of pubescence, and breathing a mist that left my heart fog-bound and benighted; I could no longer tell the clear skies of love from the dark clouds of lust. The two swirled around me in confusion; and in my youthful ignorance I was quickly drawn over the cliffs of desire and sucked down by the eddying currents of vice. (2.2.2)

My vanity was so excessive that I longed to be smart and sophisticated. (3.1.1)

My studies, too—'The Liberal Arts', as they were called—were leading me in a direction of their own. (3.3.6)

In the regular course of study I came to a book by a certain Cicero . . . this book of his contains an exhortation to philosophy; it is called the Hortensius. It was this book that changed my outlook . . . Suddenly all my vain hopes seemed cheap, and I began to lust with a passion scarcely to be believed after the immortality conferred by philosophy . . . It was not in order to hone my tongue that I took it up, nor was it Cicero's manner of speech that swayed me, but what he was saying. (3.4.7)

. . . in Cicero's exhortation to philosophy there was one thing that I loved especially, namely that his words aroused me and set me on fire not to be a lover of this or that sect, but of wisdom itself, whatever it may be; to love it and seek it and gain it and keep it, to embrace it with all my strength. (3.4.)8

He will find out for himself from his reading the nature of his mistake . . . (3.12.21)

'What is it that we love except what is beautiful? What, then, is "beautiful"? And what is beauty? What is there in the things we love that charms and attracts us? They could not draw us to themselves unless there were some internal harmony and beauty of form about them.' I looked around and saw that within physical objects there is one sort of beauty that comes, so to speak, from the totality, and another which gives a sense of harmony through the congruence with which it fits in without another object, as part of a body fits in with the whole, or as a shoe fits a foot, and so forth. This thought welled up in the depths of my heart and filled my mind . . . (4.13.20)

I sought to know why I thought good the beauty of physical objects, whether in the heavens or on earth, and what it was that helped me judge correctly when I said of mutable objects, 'This thing ought to be such and such, but that thing so and so.' As I asked the question of why I judged thus (seeing that I did judge thus) I had found an eternity of truth, unchangeable and true . . . (7.17.23)

From that Beauty these craftsmen that pursue outward beauties take the yardstick by which they perceive what is good, but not the yardstick by which they should use it. (10.34.53)

I read by myself all the books on the so-called liberal arts, and understood all that I read . . . (4.16.30)

. . . I discovered that this erstwhile master of the liberal arts knew only literature—and had no special knowledge even of that. He had read some of Cicero's speeches, a few books by Seneca, some odds and ends of poetry, and the more literate of the Latin works of his own sect. (5.6.11)

I had not yet attained the truth, but had now been rescued from falsehood.(6.1.1)

As I passed through a street in Milan, I noticed a pauper begging. I suppose he had already had a skinful, and was now in a happy mood, full of jokes. I groaned, and observed to the friends who were with me how many were the sufferings of our own madness inflicted upon us. In all our strivings, such as those under which I was then labouring as I dragged my burden of unhappiness, driven by the lash of my own desires, making it heavier as I dragged it, we had but one wish: to arrive at a state of happiness and confidence. But that beggar, I said, had beaten us to it, and we would perhaps never reach it. What he had attained with the aid of a few small coins, and begged ones at that, I was approaching by a circuitous route, with many painful twists and turns: namely, the happiness that comes from earthly felicity. It was no true jot that he had; but the joy that I was seeking through my ambitions was far falser. He, at any rate, was cheerful, while I was anxious he was carefree, while I was full of trepidation. If someone had asked me whether I would rather be happy or fearful, I would have said, ‘Happy’. If they had asked again, whether I would rather be like the beggar, or as I then was, I would have chosen to be myself, exhausted though I was with worries and fears. But this is a perverse choice; what of the truth? I should not have regarded my condition as preferable to his because I was more educated, for I had no joy of my education. Instead, I sought to please men with it; not to teach them, but only to please them . . . It does matter, I know, why one is happy; the happiness that comes from faithful hope is incomparably different from my vanity. But even then, there was a difference between us: he was the rapper, not only in that he was drenched with high spirits, whearas I was even up inside with anxieties, but also in that he had got his wine by wishing people good day, whearas I sought to get my vain glory by lying. (6.6.9, 6.6.10)

I was not now in that state of vanity; I had transcended it . . . (8.1.2)

My will was perverted, and became a lust; I obeyed my lust as a slave, and it became a habit; I failed to resist my habit, and it became a need. (8.5.10)

I was in both the flesh and the spirit, but I was more myself in that which I approved in myself, than that which I disapproved in myself. (8.5.11)

He was capable of far greater literary activity, if he wished . . . (8.6.13)

. . . avoiding in his teaching all that might disturb the quiet of his mind; for that he wished to keep free and unoccupied for as many hours of the day as possible, while he sought to read or hear something concerning wisdom. (8.6.13)

All these tasks we endure—where are they taking us? (8.6.15)

He read, and was changed within . . . and his mind began to put off the world. For as he read . . . he pondered the shifting tides of his heart . . . he discerned the better course, and resolved upon it. (8.6.15)

Merely to seek this wisdom, even if I did not find it, now seemed preferable to difficult treasure houses or kingships of the nations, or an abundance of bodily pleasures that surpasses all my wishes. (8.7.17)

To progress toward it—indeed to attain it—was nothing other than the will to progress, but with a will that was strong and whole throughout. (8.8.19)

They did not block my path and speak out openly against me, but whispered behind my back and punched furtively at me as I left them behind, to make me look back. Nevertheless, they did delay my progress, and I was slow to tear myself away from them, shake them off, and hasten where I was summoned, as long as Habit, with all its force, said to me, 'Do you think you can do without these?' (8.11.26)

For those whose with it is to rejoice in outward things, soon waste away and spend themselves on things visible and temporal, and feed their famished mind by licking at illusions. (9.4.10)

. . . honeyed with the honey of heaven, radiant with your radiance. (9.4.11)

The scent of your ointments was heavy in the air . . . (9.7.16)

. . . scented with costly perfumes. (9.13.36)

You cast your fragrance, and I drew breath, yet pant for you; I tasted, yet hunger and thirst; you touched me, and I was on fire for your peace. (10.27.38)

The allurements of scents, however, does not bother me too much. When they are absent, I do not feel the need of them; when they are present, I do not reject them. I would even be ready to do without them for ever. Or so I think I would, I may be deceived. (10.32.48)

When our conversation reached the point at which no pleasure derived from carnal senses, however great, however illumined by bodily light, seemed in respect of the sweetness of that Life was worthy not only of comparison, but even of mention, then we raised ourselves up in a more ardent longing for the Same, moving step by step through all things corporeal, even the sky itself, from which sun and moon and stars shine upon the earth. Still higher we went, through inward contemplation and discussion and admiration . . . We came to our own minds, and passed beyond them to attain the land of richness unfailing where you feed Israel forever with the food of truth. There, life is the Wisdom through which all things that were and that are to be come into being . . . (9.10.24)

I shall therefore, transcend even that innate strength of mine, spending by degrees to him that made me. I shall come to the plains and broad palaces of memory, where there are boards of countless images brought in from the things of all kind that the senses perceive. There is the storehouse of all that we ever contemplate, whether by increasing or by diminishing or by altering in some way the objects that our senses have encountered, and of everything else which is entrusted for safekeeping there and has not yet been swallowed up and buried in oblivion . . . Some things come to hand easily and in unbroken sequence, just as they are requested; those that come first give way to those that follow on from them, and having given way, are stored up , to come forth the net time I want them. All this happens when I relate something from memory. (10.8.12)

All these things I do within, in the great hall of my memory. There heaven and earth stand ready for me, with everything in them that I have been able to perceive . . . (10.8.14)

Great is the strength of Memory, great indeed, my God; an inner chamber vast and infinite. Who has ever sounded its depths? This strength belongs to my mind and to my nature, yet I myself cannot comprehend all that I am. Is mind, then, too narrow to hold itself? And if so, what is the part of itself that it does not contain? How, then, can it be outside itself rather than inside itself? How, then, can it not contain itself? Great wonder arises within me over this question; bewilderment overwhelms me. (10.8.15)

But these are not the only things borne by my memory, with its innumerable capaciousness. In it also are all the elements of the liberal arts that I have acquired and not yet forgotten, as if kept apart in some placeless inner place. (10.9.16)

In the countless fields and grots and caverns of my memory, full beyond counting with countless kinds of thing, I range through images, as with all physical objects, through presences, as with the liberal arts, through mental concepts and records, as with my states of mind, which memory retains even when the mind is not undergoing them, though whatever is in the memory is also in the mind. Through all these things I range, flitting this way and that. I go as deep in as I can, and nowhere is there an end . . . (10.17.26)

And although I eat and drink for my health’s sake, a dangerous sweetness tags along at our heels and often attempts to go first, to make me do for pleasure’s sake what I say or wish to do for my health’s sake . . . My wretched soul is full of flee at this very uncertainty, and uses it in preparing the case for its defence, rejoicing that it is not clear what is the due amount of food to maintain one’s physical wellbeing, and covering the work of pleasure with the pretext of health. (10.31.44)

If I were given the choice of being on the one hand mad or mistaken on all matters and still praised by all men, or on the other hand of being firm in my wits, firmly convinced of the truth, and reviled by all, I know what I would choose. (10.37.61)

This is the profit I have of my confessions: that I should confess not what I was, but what I am, and confess it not only before you with secret exultation and trembling, and secret grief and hope, but also in the ears of those children of men who believe. These are my companions in my fellow-pilgrims; those that have gone before me, those that will come after me, those that come with me. (10.4.6)

To Carthage then I came, where a cauldron of unholy loves sang all about mine ears . . . (Virtue Chastises Folly: Allergory of Lust; 3.1.1)
. . . each drop off time is precious to me. (11.2.2)

‘My son, for my part, I no longer take any pleasure in this life. What I am now doing here still, and why I am here, I do not know; my hope in this world is spent. There was one thing for which I used to long to remain a while longer in this life . . . (9.10.26)
Profile Image for Leo Espluga.
37 reviews1,560 followers
February 28, 2022

“Amare amaban… amare et amari dulce mihi erat”

Primera algunas pequeñas apreciaciones formales, digamos la parte de reseña mas pura.
El libro está escrito con un estilo dialéctico. Hay un constante juego entre interior-exterior, alma-cuerpo, tiempo-eternidad, creador-creación, etc. En lo que se refiere al estilo, el libro está muy bellamente escrito, se nota la formación en retórica del autor, que pese a renegar de la misma, tiene interiorizado el estilo. En concreto ésta edición, el trabajo de Agustín Uña Juárez -el traductor, escritor de la introducción y todo el apartado de notas- es fascinante, el comentario del texto aporta valor, matiz, textura y profundidad al texto. Esto nos aporta una comprensión mayor del texto sin ser una intromisión (que en algunos libros resulta muy molesta). Me gusta (mucho) que se permita ser personal, le he acabado cogiendo mucho cariño a él también.
Hasta el libro X, el libro tiene un carácter de confesión del pasado, una reunificación de la disgregación llevada acabo por el dolor de la vida sin rumbo. Los X diez primeros libros son los que se me han hecho más amenos y fascinantes. A partir del libro X coge el terreno del presente y el terreno de la exploración del yo cambia. El texto coge un formato más filosófico. Las reflexiones sobre el tiempo y la memoria las considero una autentica joya. Son fascinantes. A partir de ahí se entra en un terreno muy ensuciado por un optimismo teológico que nos deja un mal sabor de boca.
En general me ha pasado lo mismo que me pasa al leer a los “místicos”, empiezo bastante interesado, paso por un momento medio de pura fascinación y quedo totalmente prendido, para llegar al final de la obra, en este caso las últimas 100 paginas con un esfuerzo para no dejarlo. Que se me ha hecho cuesta arriba vaya.
Con esto cierro la parte más de “reseña” para hablar de mi experiencia personal


Para empezar, dejándolo claro, Las Confesiones se han convertido probablemente en mi libro favorito.
Durante el proceso de lectura, no se si me he proyectado o me identificado con Agustín. Me cuesta diferenciar el Desdoblamiento del hecho, pero honestamente poco me importa.
Éste es el relato, la historia, de una avidez de ser. De una vida de profundo anhelo, de ardor, de sentimiento, de fuerza pura. Citando a Rilke, Agustin es: “una existencia rebosante me brota del corazón”.
Creo que me fascina principalmente por un hecho, seguramente el mismo por el cual me fascina de Zambrano. Agustín buscó la verdad y encontró el amor. Y eso me duele, igual que me duele leer los versos de Dante del Paraíso. Me duele la luz que proyectan y que poseen. Me duele más cuando me cuentan la luz del amor, que las tinieblas de la soledad.
Agustín es volverse a si mismo, es un grito desesperado por entender quién se es y el porqué. Es auto conocimiento pura fenomenología del ser.
Durante la lectura, he sentido cosas que me aterrorizan. Me aterroriza la trascendencia, la herida metafísica, me aterroriza sentir la parálisis que sentí con Rothko pensando en la cruz y el Verbo hecho carne, me aterroriza el que mi alma mire arriba. Me aterroriza porque la verdad se me escapa y no sé si puedo soportar encontrarme con el amor. Y aún así no puedo escapar de él.
Agustín es filósofo del tiempo y la memoria. Es recordar, es buscar constantemente eso recóndito que hay en nosotros que no nos permite cerrar el círculo de nuestro ser, de nuestra identidad, nuestro absoluto, ese por una puta vez llegar a ser el que se es. Porque cada vez se me presenta como más cierto que la filosofía se resume a dos máximas coetáneas al nacimiento de la filosofía.
“Llegar a ser el que se es” y “aprender padeciendo”. Espero de veras equivocarme y que la luz no me duela. Porque la trascendencia y la herida metafísica al mismo tiempo que te eleva, te hace agarrarte, como a un clavo ardiendo, a las manos que te ahogan. Todo para poder respirar y ver, ver con claridad, eso es todo.
En este autor, amor y verdad se identifican. Ambas son Dios

Agustín es amor y cierro con alguna cita:
“ Y aquí un buen día mi infancia murió, pero yo sigo vivo” “Con qué dolor se entenebreció mi corazón, y todo cuanto miraba era muerte. Y la patria me era suplicio (et erat mihi patria supplicium), y la casa paterna, infelicidad extraña. Y cuanto había departido con el se tornaba, sin él, crudelísimo tormento. Mis ojos le aguardaban por doquier y no comparecía.Y odiaba todas las cosas porque ellas no le tenían, ni tampoco podían va decirme: «Está para venir», como en vída, cuando estaba ausente. Me había convertido para mí en un gran problema (magna quaestio) y preguntaba a mi alma porqué estaba triste y por qué me turbaba tanto y no sabía qué responderme. Y si le decía: «Espera en Dios», ya no me obedecía y con razón, porque aquel amigo carísimo que había perdido era más real y meior que aquel fantasma en el que se le ordenaba esperar. Sólo el llanto me era dulce, y él había sustituido a mi amigo en las delicias de mi alma.”
Profile Image for Guy Austin.
109 reviews29 followers
August 25, 2016
“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.
Profile Image for Brian Eshleman.
831 reviews103 followers
February 3, 2021
The Bible says Elijah was a man like us but that his prayer was miraculously effectual. Confessions is a great way to make the same reconnection with the church fathers and saints who came before us but after the time of the biblical canon.

Augustine is candid. He faced the same temptations and rode the same relations we do. He is an honest narrator of his own vicissitudes, and thereby his attestation to the faithfulness of Christ is all the more meaningful.

Clearly, he deserves five stars, but my reading experience was kept from absolute perfection by my inability to maintain interest, and sometimes comprehension, as he talked at some length philosophically about the science of perception.
Profile Image for Jill.
514 reviews808 followers
September 26, 2017
I can’t really rate this one but it was certainly interesting... not my favorite though.
Profile Image for Jerome Peterson.
Author 4 books54 followers
September 3, 2011
"Confessions" is the type of book with a heavy dynamic caliber that it should be read slow, thoughtfully, and with a highlighter. Saint Augustine doe not hold back in his shortcomings. He paints a black, very personal, wicked youth. He confesses all and bares his soul. The passages about his mother were extremely soulful revealing the man as an affectionate son. He writes with hopeful authority; yet in a humble voice and always in a way that I could relate with it in today's hectic pace. His style was unique to me for he included and addressed God as one of his readers not as a truth seeker, such as myself, but as The Almighty. The content itself is woven with scripture in such a way that it drew me in instead of losing me or making me feel like a wretch. The author covers his sinful youth and years of his adult life; pursuit for truth; his faithful mother; his pagan father; even a friend that was addicted to attending gladiatorial shows! He also covers subjects such as invisible nature, memory, and time. Saint Augustine lived A.D. 354-430 and was one of the outstanding figures of the declining Roman Empire. He was a prolific writer of books, letters, and sermons. I highly recommend this book; especially to anyone who is seeking truth and answers about the seen and unseen world around them as well as self-evident mysteries such as memory and time.
December 30, 2019
Le confessioni: ”se nessuno me lo chiede so cos'è, ma se mi chiede che cos'è, non lo so più”

Anche se volessi fare una vera riflessione su questo libro non ne sarei capace: è troppo. Alle Confessioni si potrebbe attribuire il gioco di parole che nel libro undicesimo introduce all'esperienza del tempo: ”se nessuno me lo chiede so cos'è, ma se mi chiede che cos'è, non lo so più”.
Per farlo:
mi bisognerebbe la fede, che non ho, per capire il colloquio a tratti passionale tra Agostino e Dio;

mi bisognerebbe, per penetrarne la filosofia e la spiritualità, la conoscenza dei padri della chiesa interpreti delle scritture e di Plotino di cui francamente non sono mai riuscita a capire quel pochissimo che ho letto;

mi bisognerebbero cinquant’anni di meno come ai tempi della prima lettura - non so più se ne capii qualcosa - per non sembrarmi esagerati sensi di colpa e vergogna per atti e fatti comuni a tutte le adolescenze e gioventù di ogni epoca e a maggior ragione per quella società di decadenza;

mi bisognerebbe non avere, sempre, nella mente la “shoah” per accettare che il male non esiste essendo semplicemente mancanza di bene.

E allora?
Stupiamoci e chiniamo la testa di fronte alla più grande e profonda riflessione sul tempo che sfiora l’intuizione dello spazio-tempo e in cui il compiacimento del bel ragionamento, che permea tutto il libro, quasi scompare davanti al sincero sbigottimento di Agostino per i proteiformi aspetti del tempo, “ancorato al soggetto che porta in s�� il passato, e si tende verso il futuro, conoscibile attraverso lo stesso passato» come scrisse Maria Betterini, studiosa di Agostino.
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