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“Confessions” – Book III: Chapters 7 – 12

 

Saints Augustine and Monica, 1854. Artist: Scheffer, Ary (1795-1858)

Saints Augustine and Monica, 1854. Artist: Scheffer, Ary (1795-1858)

 

We will finish the rest of Book III as we go over chapters 7 – 12.

 

The more questions I think of as I go through Confessions the more profoundly impressed I am of Augustine and his thinking.

 

Please answer one of these questions and write an essay on it.

 

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‘Confessions’ – Book III: Chapters 1 – 6

 

The Mani Prayer wheel used for prayers in Tibetan Buddhism

The Mani Prayer wheel used for prayers in Tibetan Buddhism.  Augustine was a follower of Manichaeism in his early life.

 

In Book III, Augustine leaves for Carthage from his hometown of Thagaste and enters a place and a lifestyle in which “all around me hissed a cauldron of illicit loves.” This is a low point in Augustine’s relationship with God–turned almost entirely toward transient diversions, he seems to feel he could get no lower.

 

It was during this time, when he was around sixteen years old, that he hooked up with a girl and would settle down with her for the next dozen years or so. In that time, having a common-law wife or living together and even having a child together was not considered particularly immoral. The main problem would be that she had come from a lower social class that Augustine which meant that any children they had would take her lower status, not his. This would cause problems for his family who most definitely wanted him to marry a woman with a high social standing. Augustine never reveals her name, most likely to protect her from unwanted attention. As Augustine would later write, she went back to Africa and vowed never to take another man.

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UPDATE: “Confessions: Book II”

“St. Augustine”, Michelangelo Caravaggio (1592-1610) , c. 1600, National Gallery of Canada

Here are our responses to Book II of Augustine’s Confessions.

We discussed the nature of sin and why if often feels good to us when we commit the act; the difference between lust and love; what role, if any, our free will plays in salvation; whether or not we are all born with a sense of morality (or right and wrong) within us, including a sense of the divine or God already ‘prebuilt’ within us; and the influence of neoplatonic thought on not only Augustine, but on Western Christian thought.

You can read our essays here.