Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Review: Confessions

Confessions by Augustine of Hippo

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

My version of The Confessions was 350 pages long. The first half of the book is Augustine's autobiographical account of his life of sin and his way back to God. This part of the book is the confession part, and at times it seems that Augustine boasts of his exploits. Theologically speaking, one could do without this part of the book.

I found the second part of The Confessions to be some of the most frustrating philosophical/theological text I have ever read. If I were to ever teach another course in (Aristotelian) logic I would be at a loss as to which bad ontological argument to select. The arguments are simply that bad. I wish they were part of a dialectic of thesis/antithesis, but they're not. Based on these arguments, Augustine could not argue his way out of a paper bag. So, this part of The Confessions should also be avoided.

But then we come to Book XIII, the last section of The Confessions. When I began to read this section, I did not think that Augustine had written it. I'm still undecided. The arguments are cogent and his theology is sound. I have never read such edifying exegesis on the opening of Genesis. Book XIII begins on page 316, and in these pages we are confronted with a great mind examining a great text.

I will read the last 34 pages of The Confessions again and again, and I would encourage all serious readers and faithful to do the same. Initiates in the Catholic Church looking for encouragement or strong ontological arguments would do well to bypass this book in favor of some of Augustine's more brilliant writings, such as his homilies.

View all my reviews

No comments:

Post a Comment

Blogger Wordpress Gadgets