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Augustine of Hippo: A Biography (New Edition, with an by Henry Chadwick

Posted On February 25, 2017 at 5:52 pm by / Comments Off on Augustine of Hippo: A Biography (New Edition, with an by Henry Chadwick

By Henry Chadwick

This biography of St. Augustine is a splended scholarly tale. I loved each web page.

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Its form directly anticipates that of the later Confessions. The theme is announced in the declaration ‘I desire to know God and the soul. Nothing more? ’ By a careful dialectical method Augustine examines the nature of knowledge. The soul has its own eye (so Plato had said), and God is the sun giving it light to see by. In Augustine, as already in Plotinus, the old Platonic doctrine of the soul dimly remembering divine truths from its pre-bodily past is quietly replaced by a doctrine of divine illumination.

But ‘nothing is far from God; there is no fear that he will not know where I am at the resurrection of the dead’. A verse epitaph was later composed for her tomb by an admirer of the Confessions, the consular Anicius Bassus. Until 1945 this epitaph was known only through a copy made by a medieval pilgrim. In 1945 two boys playing basketball dug a hole in the ground for their post, and unearthed a piece of marble with part of the original inscription. In the closing pages of the ninth book of the Confessions Augustine writes of her funeral, of the eucharist in celebration of the sacrifice of our redemption offered on her behalf, and of his own prayer for her peace.

Augustine confesses that he has not yet gained control of his imagination, and expresses dread that the dark forces within him may still captivate him by pleasure. In the Confessions more than ten years later he prays God that his dream-life may be made more chaste, and confesses himself still uncertain what hidden impulses lie within. (C 10. 30. 41). There may be an autobiographical touch, however, in a sentence of 401 (BC 21. ’ However, in 386 he can only aspire towards Reason’s expectations of him.

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