Confessions

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Study sheet for St. Augustine’s Confessions

Here is a study sheet to guide your reading of Augustine’s Confessions. Please print it and bring it to class every day that we’re reading and discussing Augustine, beginning this Friday, March 30. Your introduction to the Confessions is the discussion of Augustine in chapter ten of our textbook, The Christian Theological Tradition. That chapter was written with special emphasis on the Confessions, so please keep it available for reference while you’re reading Augustine. To indicate the relevant book and section numbers of the Confessions, I have used the system of upper and lower case Roman numerals found in the edition ordered for our class (Oxford University Press, translated and edited by Henry Chadwick). Thus “Conf. III.i-vii” means the material on pp. 35-45 of the edition we’re reading. “V” means all of Book Five. Do not be confused by the book’s parallel system of Arabic numerals, written in parentheses, which the Oxford edition also uses—just disregard them. For this Friday, March 30, I want you to have read Books I, II, and III.i-vii. Come to class prepared to discuss the first three questions on this study sheet, with nos. 1 and 3 being more important than 2.

1. On the opening page of the Confessions, Augustine introduces his book by a discussion of a central Augustinian theme, “the restless heart.” What does he mean by his use of this phrase? Could you restate this in your own words? This opening question will be my lead-in to an open discussion of whether human beings are religious by nature, or whether religion is only a passing stage in human development – what is your opinion on this? Are people more religious or less religious with the passage of time? Or if such differences exist between one time and place and another, how are we to account for them?

2. In Book II, on Adolescence, Augustine talks about his moral struggles in those hormonally challenged years. What is he...
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