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Encounters with God in Augustine's Confessions

Books VII-IX

Carl G. Vaught

Publication Year: 2004

This book continues Carl G. Vaught’s thoroughgoing reinterpretation of Augustine’s Confessions—one that rejects the view that Augustine is simply a Neoplatonist and argues that he is also a definitively Christian thinker. As a companion volume to the earlier Journey toward God in Augustine’s Confessions: Books I–VI, it can be read in sequence with or independently of it. This work covers the middle portion of the Confessions, Books VII–IX. Opening in Augustine’s youthful maturity, Books VII–IX focus on the three pivotal experiences that transform his life: the Neoplatonic vision that causes him to abandon materialism; his conversion to Christianity that leads him beyond Neoplatonism to a Christian attitude toward the world and his place in it; and the mystical experience he shares with his mother a few days before her death, which points to the importance of the Christian community. Vaught argues that time, space, and eternity intersect to provide a framework in which these three experiences occur and which give Augustine a three-fold access to God.

Published by: State University of New York Press


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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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p. vii

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pp. ix-xii

When Augustine writes the Confessions, there are no confessionals. Rather, he speaks to God directly, praising his creator and confessing his sins without depending on an earthly mediator. The Catholic penitent approaches the confessional with fear and trembling, while the faithful Protestant refuses to approach it at all. By contrast, Augustine lives before ...

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pp. 1-24

This book is a detailed analysis of Books VII–IX of Augustine’s Confessions, and it comes to focus on three pivotal encounters between God and the Soul. The first is his philosophical conversion, the second is his conversion to Christianity, and the third is the mystical experience he shares with his mother a few days before her death in Ostia. At a time when philosophy ...

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1. The Philosophical Conversion (Book VII)

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pp. 25-66

In Book VII of the Confessions, Augustine focuses his attention on the concept of God and considers his need for a mediator. In between, he struggles with the problem of evil and finds the pathway that leads to his intellectual conversion. Though the young philosopher has freed himself from dualism and has become convinced that God is incorruptible, he is ...

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2. Augustine’s Christian Conversion (Book VIII)

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pp. 67-104

The central existential Book of the Confessions begins with Augustine’s hesitation to become a Christian and ends with the emergence of a Christian community. In between, his conversion to Christianity makes his transition from hesitation to community possible. At the beginning of Book VIII, Augustine tells us that his intellectual conversion is complete ...

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3. Mother and Son: A Shared Mystical Experience (Book IX)

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pp. 105-138

This chapter begins with the birth of Augustine into a new way of living; and it ends with the death of his mother in Ostia, which brings her work in the world to completion. This implies that Augustine is just beginning to live when his mother dies, and it suggests that the death of the person who has smothered him for so long might be necessary if he is ever to embrace a life ...


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pp. 139-154


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pp. 155-166


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pp. 167-175

E-ISBN-13: 9780791484999
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791461075
Print-ISBN-10: 0791461076

Page Count: 187
Publication Year: 2004

OCLC Number: 62365174
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Encounters with God in Augustine's Confessions

Research Areas


Subject Headings

  • Augustine, Saint, Bishop of Hippo.
  • Christian saints -- Algeria -- Hippo (Extinct city) -- Biography -- History and criticism.
  • Spirituality -- History -- Early church, ca. 30-600.
  • Augustine, Saint, Bishop of Hippo. Confessiones. Liber 7-9.
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