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on 27 December 2017
This review is specifically for this format, not the content of the book. This is a print on demand version that is about A4 size in format, a fact not made at all clear in the product description. As such, it is extremely unpleasant to read. There is no indication that this is the Chadwick translation. It may well be, but the English is far from 'modern', for example making extensive use of archaic pronouns.
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on 6 August 2015
A beautifully written painfully honest account of Saint Augustine's life, full of tender reflection and philosophical enquiry. Perhaps one of the first ever autobiographies ever written. A fascinating insight into Roman culture & the Christian church as it existed back then.
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on 25 June 2017
Wonderful book
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on 29 September 2017
good
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on 14 June 2017
I found this book while looking through my late wife’s things. I would be very surprised if she had read it given that in our 18 years together I rarely saw her complete the reading of any book. However, I am less surprised that she acquired it given her lifelong quest for some kind of spiritual understanding and peace.

This book, for me, was a very hard read. It is only 300 pages long but took me 7 weeks to finish it. When I have discussed this book with people who have read it, they say they are not surprised that it took that long and that they are surprised that anyone would want to read it for leisure purposes.

St Augustine’s confessions are famous for being his public renunciation of his old pagan ways, his laying open his soul to God. It contains his famous prayer, paraphrased as “Make me good but not yet.” Henry Chadwick more elegantly phrases it “Lord grant me chastity and continence but not yet”. In many ways, modern readers would wonder why Augustine was so hard on himself. He doesn’t seem to be confessing anything that serious, merely for being a typical Roman citizen, enjoying circuses and practising and teaching rhetoric.

The book is more than a mere autobiography of a sinner who has converted to Christianity. It is an account of Saint Augustine’s intellectual and philosophical awakening. He uses the full depth and range of his classical education and applies it to many aspects of theology to exhaustive effect. The book is full of numerous familiar biblical quotations. It is worth remembering that Saint Augustine was writing at a time at which Christianity was not the world faith it has since become. Much of the book is an argument against the Manichee sect of which I was entirely ignorant when I read it.

It is hard to rate this book given its classic status. I did find it hard going at times and often found myself struggling to understand what Augustine was going on about and often found that mental process by which he picked apart subjects quite exhausting to read. However, when I did persist, I found this process enthralling and immensely rewarding. His expounding on the creation and nature of the concept of time was especially fascinating.

So given its classic status and some of Augustine’s insights (many of which remain very contemporary), this is for me a 5 star book and one that I may well wish to revisit.
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on 25 January 2006
Augustine's 'Confessions' is among the most important books ever written. One of the first autobiographical works in the modern sense, it also represents the first time a psychological and theological enterprise were combined. It also helps to bridge the gap between the Classical world and the Medieval world, exhibiting strong elements identifying with each of those major historical periods.
Most undergraduates in the liberal arts encounter the book at some point; all seminarians do (or should!). Many adults find (or rediscover) the book later, after school. For many in these categories, there are concepts, narrative strands and historical data new and unusual for them. However, Augustine's 'Confessions' is still generally more accessible in many ways that truly classical pieces; it has interior description as well as external reporting that we are familiar with in modern writing.
The 'Confessions' shows Augustine's personality well - he was a passionate person, but his focus wavered for much of his life until finally settling upon Christianity and the Neoplatonic synthesis with this faith. Even while remaining a passionate Christian and rejecting the sort of dualism present in the Manichee teachings, he varied between various positions within these systems. Augustine's varied thought reaches through many denominational and scholarly paradigms.
The 'Confessions' are divided into thirteen chapters, termed 'Books' - the first ten of the books are autobiographical, with Augustine describing both events in his life as well as his philosophical and religious wanderings during the course of his life. The text is somewhat difficult to take at times, as this is writing with a purpose, as indeed most autobiographies are. The purpose here at times seems to be to paint Augustine in the worst possible light (the worse his condition, the better his conversion/salvation ends up being); at other times, one gets a sense (as one might get when reading the Pauline epistles) that there is some significant degree of ego at work here (Paul boasts of being among the better students, and so does Augustine, etc.).
Augustine also uses his Confessions as a tract against the Manichean system - once a faithful adherent, Augustine later rejects the Manichean beliefs as heretical; however, one cannot get past the idea that Augustine retained certain of their intellectual aspects in his own constructions even while denouncing them in his official life story.
The whole of the conversion turns on two primary books - Book Seven, his conversion to the Neoplatonic view of the world, including the metaphysics and the ethics that come along with this system; and Book 8, which describes his conversion to Christianity proper. This is where perhaps the most famous directive, 'Tolle! Lege!' ('Take and read!') comes from - Augustine heard a voice, and he picked up the nearest book, which happened to be a portion of the Pauline epistles, arguing against the undisciplined lifestyle Augustine lived. Scholars continue to debate whether Augustine's conversion to Christianity was more profound or more important than his conversion to Neoplatonism; in any event, Christianity interpreted through a Platonic framework became the norm for centuries, and remains a strong current within the Christian world view; Protestant reformers as they went back to the 'original bible' in distinction from the Catholic interpretations of the day also went back to the 'original Augustine' for much of their theology.
The final three books are Augustine's dealing with the creation of the world via narrative stories in Genesis 1 exegetically and hermeneutically. This is very different from what is done in modern biblical scholarship, but is significant in many respects, not the least of which as it gives a model of the way Augustine dealt with biblical texts; given Augustine's towering presence over the development of Western Christianity in both Catholic and Protestant strands, understanding his methods and interpretative framework can lead to significant insights into the ideas of medieval and later church figures.
This is a book that will be of interest to novice readers of Augustine as well as scholars, to students, clergy and laypersons, and anyone else who might have an historical, literary, philosophical, theological or other interest in Augustine - something for everyone, perhaps?
This particular edition is an abridgement, drawing in crucial elements in a new translation of the text. It probably consists of only about one-tenth of the overall text of the Confessions, pulling out significant stories and passages rather than preserving the entirety of the narrative strand. It is a good primer, but be advised that it is not the complete text. It does have a nice feel and design to it, and makes a good gift book.
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on 3 February 2005
Augustine's 'Confessions' is among the most important books ever written. One of the first autobiographical works in the modern sense, it also represents the first time a psychological and theological enterprise were combined. It also helps to bridge the gap between the Classical world and the Medieval world, exhibiting strong elements identifying with each of those major historical periods.
Most undergraduates in the liberal arts encounter the book at some point; all seminarians do (or should!). Many adults find (or rediscover) the book later, after school. For many in these categories, there are concepts, narrative strands and historical data new and unusual for them. However, Augustine's 'Confessions' is still generally more accessible in many ways that truly classical pieces; it has interior description as well as external reporting that we are familiar with in modern writing.
The 'Confessions' shows Augustine's personality well - he was a passionate person, but his focus wavered for much of his life until finally settling upon Christianity and the Neoplatonic synthesis with this faith. Even while remaining a passionate Christian and rejecting the sort of dualism present in the Manichee teachings, he varied between various positions within these systems. Augustine's varied thought reaches through many denominational and scholarly paradigms.
The 'Confessions' are divided into thirteen chapters, termed 'Books' - the first ten of the books are autobiographical, with Augustine describing both events in his life as well as his philosophical and religious wanderings during the course of his life. The text is somewhat difficult to take at times, as this is writing with a purpose, as indeed most autobiographies are. The purpose here at times seems to be to paint Augustine in the worst possible light (the worse his condition, the better his conversion/salvation ends up being); at other times, one gets a sense (as one might get when reading the Pauline epistles) that there is some significant degree of ego at work here (Paul boasts of being among the better students, and so does Augustine, etc.).
Augustine also uses his Confessions as a tract against the Manichean system - once a faithful adherent, Augustine later rejects the Manichean beliefs as heretical; however, one cannot get past the idea that Augustine retained certain of their intellectual aspects in his own constructions even while denouncing them in his official life story.
The whole of the conversion turns on two primary books - Book Seven, his conversion to the Neoplatonic view of the world, including the metaphysics and the ethics that come along with this system; and Book 8, which describes his conversion to Christianity proper. This is where perhaps the most famous directive, 'Tolle! Lege!' ('Take and read!') comes from - Augustine heard a voice, and he picked up the nearest book, which happened to be a portion of the Pauline epistles, arguing against the undisciplined lifestyle Augustine lived. Scholars continue to debate whether Augustine's conversion to Christianity was more profound or more important than his conversion to Neoplatonism; in any event, Christianity interpreted through a Platonic framework became the norm for centuries, and remains a strong current within the Christian world view; Protestant reformers as they went back to the 'original bible' in distinction from the Catholic interpretations of the day also went back to the 'original Augustine' for much of their theology.
The final three books are Augustine's dealing with the creation of the world via narrative stories in Genesis 1 exegetically and hermeneutically. This is very different from what is done in modern biblical scholarship, but is significant in many respects, not the least of which as it gives a model of the way Augustine dealt with biblical texts; given Augustine's towering presence over the development of Western Christianity in both Catholic and Protestant strands, understanding his methods and interpretative framework can lead to significant insights into the ideas of medieval and later church figures.
This translation by Henry Chadwick is one of the standard editions of the book available. Chadwick, a noted scholar of early Christianity, provides a good introduction that gives synopses of the books as well as background and contextual information. This is a book that will be of interest to novice readers of Augustine as well as scholars, to students, clergy and laypersons, and anyone else who might have an historical, literary, philosophical, theological or other interest in Augustine - something for everyone, perhaps?
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on 14 June 2017
So contemporary! Yes, much enjoyed.
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on 29 May 2002
I recently reread "The Confessions of St. Augustine" after many years and am glad that I did. This book, which is often called the first autobiography, is really not an autobiography in the sense that we use the term. It is Augustine's Confession to God, from which we glean many details about Augustine's life.
In this we learn of Augustine's family, his early life, his search for truth and, throughout the book, his teachings on theology. Here we see him move to the gradually larger world, from Tagaste, to Carthage, to Rome, to Milan, where he finally finds Truth. He is then ready to return to his native Africa, his preparation completed for the work which would make him one of the greatest, Christian theologians of all time.
In much of the early book, Augustine tells us of his rejections of God's call. Seeking truth and honors, he searched through many sources and sought out many teachers. He sought wisdom from pagan and Manichean philosophers. His disappointment with the highly touted Manichean bishop, Faustus, whose speech was pleasing but whose answers failed to soothe Augustine's soul, caused him to turn to Catholicism.
Learning from the respected bishop, Ambrose, Augustine came to recognize the truth of Christian, but his slavery to a non-Christian life style long prevented him from following the call of God. This persisted until one day he heard the child's song "Tolle Lege, Tolle, Lege" (the title of my high school newspaper), "Take it and read." Taking this as a divine command to read the first passage of scripture to meet his eyes, he opened the book to the passage, "Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying: but put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh in concupiscence." Needing to read no further, his conversion occurred and he was ready for the great work which lay before him.
Throughout much of the book, we are treated to Augustine's teachings on a variety of religious topics. We obtain his guidance on the nature of God, God's relationship with and expectations of man, as well as norms for the interpretation of scripture. This is the book for anyone with an interest in Christian theology or St. Augustine personally. Tolle Lege!
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on 13 December 2017
Very good book
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