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Access to God in Augustine's Confessions

Books X-XIII

Carl G. Vaught

Publication Year: 2005

This is the final volume in Carl G. Vaught’s groundbreaking trilogy reappraising Augustine’s Confessions, a cornerstone of Western philosophy and one of the most influential works in the Christian tradition. Vaught offers a new interpretation of the philosopher as less Neoplatonic and more distinctively Christian than most interpreters have thought. In this book, he focuses on the most philosophical section of the Confessions and on how it relates to the previous, more autobiographical sections. A companion to the previous two volumes, which dealt with Books I–IX, this book can be read either in sequence with or independently of the others. Books X–XIII of the Confessions begin after Augustine has become Bishop of Hippo and they are separated by more than ten years from the episodes recorded in the previous nine books of the text. This establishes the narrative in the present and speaks to the “believing sons of men.” Augustine explores how memory, time, and creation make the journey toward God and the encounter with God possible. Vaught analyzes these conditions in order to unlock Augustine’s solutions to familiar philosophical and theological problems. He also tackles the frequently discussed problem of the alleged disconnection between the earlier books and the last four books by showing how Augustine binds experience and reflection together.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. iii-v

Contents

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pp. vii-

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Preface

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pp. ix-xi

Augustine’s Confessions is a fascinating book. The author begins by praising the greatness of God, confesses his sins by writing an autobiography, and defends his faith by describing the conditions that make memory, temporal experience, and existential transformation possible. In each case, the dynamism of his discourse takes us beyond the surface of the text into...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-25

This book is a detailed analysis of Books X–XIII of Augustine’s Confessions, and it comes to focus on the conditions that make his access to God possible. The first of these conditions is the structure of memory, the second is the nature of time, and the third is the meaning of creation ex nihilo. Looking back on the first thirty-three years of his life, and...

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1. The Nature of Memory (Book X)

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pp. 27-99

At the beginning of Book X, Augustine makes a transition from the death of his mother in 387 A.D. to the time at which he writes the Confessions some ten to thirteen years later. This transition from the past to the present permits him to move from the episodes that he records in...

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2. The Problem of Time (Book XI)

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pp. 101-149

Augustine’s discussion of the nature of time calls our attention to the contrast between time and eternity and places it within a context in which both issues are crucial themes. In addition, Augustine’s analysis of the nature of time is usually considered in abstraction from the larger context in which he embeds it.1 However, the difficulty with approaching...

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3. The Hermeneutics of Creation (Books XII–XIII)

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pp. 151-226

This chapter focuses on Augustine’s exegesis of Genesis 1:1–2:3, beginning with the creation of form and matter and ending with the telos of the new creation. In between these sections, it concentrates on diverse interpretations of the text that Augustine says are equally valid and develops an allegorical interpretation of verses 1:3–2:3 that allows him to...

Notes

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pp. 227-255

Bibliography

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pp. 257-263

Index

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pp. 265-280


E-ISBN-13: 9780791483527
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791464090
Print-ISBN-10: 0791464091

Page Count: 294
Publication Year: 2005

Research Areas

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Subject Headings

  • Augustine, Saint, Bishop of Hippo.
  • Augustine, Saint, Bishop of Hippo. Confessiones. Liber 10-13.
  • Spirituality -- History -- Early church, ca. 30-600.
  • Christian saints -- Algeria -- Hippo (Extinct city) -- Biography -- History and criticism.
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