Cover

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Title

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Copyright

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Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Introduction

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pp. 1-20

When people in the Christian tradition, or even in the secular culture informed by the Christian heritage, bring up the subject of conversion, they think first of Augustine of Hippo. The concept of conversio owes its dissemination to his masterwork, the Confessions. ...

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1. Becoming Manichaean

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pp. 21-41

The very term “conversion” carries with it certain implicit assumptions about a sharp and clear differentiation between identities and commitments from which and to which a person passes. The concept depends upon a boundary of exclusiveness that generally did not apply to the religious...

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2. Inhabitation

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pp. 42-69

In being attracted to Manichaeism, Augustine had been drawn to a system—a planned, promoted, coordinated set of practices and rationales for those practices. In contrast to the haphazard, largely unplanned, and evolving forces that shape human character and identity in...

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3. Indoctrination

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pp. 70-105

Given what we know of Augustine and his interests, Manichaeism was able to bring “religion”—that is, personal identification with a cultic community—into his life for the first time because of its engagement in the sort of philosophical and metaphysical discourse represented by his other studies. ...

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4. Faustus

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pp. 106-134

In the face of Augustine’s difficulty in committing wholeheartedly to the Manichaean faith, and his inability to make progress toward fully identifying his self as a Manichaean one, others repeatedly commended Faustus to him as an authority. Implicitly, such a completely informed...

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5. Exile

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pp. 135-164

In the very period that he would later characterize as one of discontent and disaffection, Augustine had become a veritable Manichaean insider. After nearly a decade of proselytizing, entering into public disputation, and forming discussion groups in support of the Manichaean cause...

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6. The Apostate

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pp. 165-192

Two encounters proved decisive for Augustine in Milan: the Nicene Christian community of Ambrose and the “books of the Platonists.” Although Augustine had had a passing acquaintance since childhood with African Christianity, the form that the new Nicene “Catholic” communion was taking in Milan...

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7. Conversion

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pp. 193-217

Conversion tends to be thought of and discussed as a sudden, dramatic, and complete transformation of the self, instantly creating a new person changed at the core.1 The paradigm owes not a little to Augustine’s dramatic account of his own sudden decision to change his life one late...

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8. Rationalizing Faith

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pp. 218-243

Augustine now occupied the same place with respect to Christianity that he once did to Manichaeism. He had been swept up in the attractiveness of a faith, and a community practicing that faith, largely by his own attribution and embellishment of expectations. He expected “great and hidden goods”...

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9. A New Man?

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pp. 244-285

By the standard tropes of conversion, and by Augustine’s own later occasional, if inconsistent, portrayal of his story, we expect to see a new man embodied in his writings of 386–388, transformed by a breakthrough of new commitments and identifications. Yet even Augustine in his Confessions...

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Conclusion

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pp. 286-302

When Augustine put the finishing touches to his Confessions, he made his conversion the climax of his narrative, as if that one act of reidentification contained implicitly within it all he would become as a Christian and as a man. He proceeds to end his tale at the harbor of Ostia...

Notes

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pp. 303-360

Bibliography

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pp. 361-388

Index

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pp. 389-400

Acknowledgments

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pp. 401-402