Confessions by Augustine of Hippo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I recently read The Confessions as part of my morning devotions. The autobiographic portion is really good, his philosophical reflections on creation, are good for what they are, but didn’t move me the way the first 9 books did.
I love that it is set up as a direct confession to God, rooted in the Psalms.
His strange relationship with the Theater kept popping out to me, as did his attacks on the Manicheans.
He also interacts with scripture and the science of the time in a way that would make American Fundamentalist squirm—and he was writing around the year 400. That alone is worth the price of admission.
If the Confessions shows nothing else, it is that Christianity is best spread through kind ongoing relationships—caught not taught, as some people say. Between his mother Monica and Ambrose he is able to see models of Christian life that aren’t bizarre or horrible or unkind. I love his description of Ambrose, “I began to like him, at first indeed not as a teacher of the truth, for I had absolutely no confidence in your Church, but as a human being who was kind to me.”
So, yeah, this is an important book—it probably lacks some of its original power, just because autobiography is a common genre these days, but at the time this was it, a whole new thing.
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