Theology

Literary Summary: Augustine’s Confessions

Augustine’s Confessions is one of the most famous works of Christian literature and world literature more generally. Considered the first autobiography of sorts, the work is really a writing of psychology and theology, as well as philosophy.

The Confessions is Augustine’s explanation of himself and his journey to the Christian faith which is simultaneously a journey of self discovery: mihi quaestio factus sum, he famous states: I am become a question to myself. Part autobiography, part philosophical inquiry, part theological exposition, part biblical interpretation (of Genesis 1), what are we to make of the Confessions and its many ruminations?

Ultimately, the Confessions charts Augustine’s vision of what it means to be human through his own personal example: humans are creatures of love and everything we do is motivated by the desire to love and be loved he says. And since God is Love the only thing that can ultimately satisfying our erotic yearning for love is God. Everything that exists in the world: other humans, philosophy, literature, creation itself, properly understood, should bring us closer to God. Where love goes wrong is when we divorce it from its ultimate and original source: God. When that happens, love becomes lust and leads to our many problems (the problems that Augustine himself struggled with). That is Augustine’s ultimate message. Our modern idea of “follow your heart” and “love wins” are all derivations of Augustine’s assertion that love is what really defines us and love motivates all human action. To be made in the image of God is to be made in love, for love, and in wisdom for wisdom. Once we accept this reality we find love and peace, just as Augustine did.

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Hesiod, Paul Krause in real life, is the editor-in-chief of VoegelinView. He is writer, classicist, and historian. He has written on the arts, culture, classics, literature, philosophy, religion, and history for numerous journals, magazines, and newspapers. He is the author of The Odyssey of Love and the Politics of Plato, and a contributor to the College Lecture Today and the forthcoming book Diseases, Disasters, and Political Theory. He holds master’s degrees in philosophy and religious studies (biblical studies & theology) from the University of Buckingham and Yale, and a bachelor’s degree in economics, history, and philosophy from Baldwin Wallace University.

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