Augustine: confessions



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Aeneid, VIII, 698.

242Ps. 144:5.

243Luke 15:4.

244Cf. Luke, ch. 15.

2451 Cor. 1:27.

246A garbled reference to the story of the conversion of Sergius Paulus, pro­consul of Cyprus, in Acts 13:4-12.

2472 Tim. 2:21.

248Gal. 5:17.

249The text here is a typical example of Augustine's love of wordplay and assonance, as a conscious literary device: tuae caritati me dedere quam meae cupiditati cedere; sed illud placebat et vincebat, hoc libebat et vinciebat.

250Eph. 5:14.

251Rom. 7:22-25.

252The last obstacles that remained. His intellectual difficulties had been cleared away and the intention to become a Christian had become strong. But incontinence and immersion in his career were too firmly fixed in habit to be overcome by an act of conscious resolution.

253Trves, an important imperial town on the Moselle; the emperor referred to here was probably Gratian. Cf. E.A. Freeman, "Augusta Trevororum," in the British Quarterly Review (1875), 62, pp. 1-45.

254Agentes in rebus, government agents whose duties ranged from postal inspection and tax collection to espionage and secret police work. They were ubiquitous and generally dreaded by the populace; cf. J.S. Reid, "Reorganization of the Empire," in Cambridge Medieval History, Vol. I, pp. 36-38.

255The inner circle of imperial advisers; usually rather informally appointed and usually with precarious tenure.

256Cf. Luke 14:28-33.

257Eph. 5:8.

258Cf. Ps. 34:5.

259Cf. Ps. 6:3; 79:8.

260This is the famous Tolle, lege; tolle, lege.

261Doubtless from Ponticianus, in their earlier conversation.

262Matt. 19:21.

263Rom. 13:13.

264Note the parallels here to the conversion of Anthony and the agentes in rebus.

265Rom. 14:1.

266Eph. 3:20.

267Ps. 116:16, 17.

268An imperial holiday season, from late August to the middle of October.

269Cf. Ps. 46:10.

270His subsequent baptism; see below, Ch. VI.

271Luke 14:14.

272Ps. 125:3.

273The heresy of Docetism, one of the earliest and most persistent of all Christological errors.

274Cf. Ps. 27:8.

275The group included Monica, Adeodatus (Augustine's fifteen-year-old son), Navigius (Augustine's brother), Rusticus and Fastidianus (relatives), Alypius, Trygetius, and Licentius (former pupils).

276A somewhat oblique acknowledgment of the fact that none of the Cassiciacum dialogues has any distinctive or substantial Christian content. This has often been pointed to as evidence that Augustine's conversion thus far had brought him no farther than to a kind of Christian Platonism; cf. P. Alfaric, L'ƒvolution intellectuelle de Saint Augustin (Paris, 1918).

277The dialogues written during this stay at Cassiciacum: Contra Academicos, De beata vita, De ordine, Soliloquia. See, in this series, Vol. VI, pp. 17-63, for an English translation of the Soliloquies.

278Cf. Epistles II and III.

279A symbolic reference to the "cedars of Lebanon"; cf. Isa. 2:12-14; Ps. 29:5.

280There is perhaps a remote connection here with Luke 10:18-20.

281Ever since the time of Ignatius of Antioch who referred to the Eucharist as "the medicine of immortality," this had been a popular metaphor to refer to the sacraments; cf. Ignatius, Ephesians 20:2.

282Here follows (8-11) a brief devotional commentary on Ps. 4.

283John 7:39.

284Idipsum--the oneness and immutability of God.

285Cf. v. 9.

2861 Cor. 15:54.

287Concerning the Teacher; cf. Vol. VI of this series, pp. 64-101.

288This was apparently the first introduction into the West of antiphonal chanting, which was already widespread in the East. Ambrose brought it in; Gregory brought it to perfection.

289Cf. S. of Sol. 1:3, 4.

290Cf. Isa. 40:6; 1 Peter 1:24: "All flesh is grass." See Bk. XI, Ch. II, 3.

291Ecclus. 19:1.

2921 Tim. 5:9.

293Phil. 3:13.

294Cf. 1 Cor. 2:9.

295Ps. 36:9.

296Idipsum.

297Cf. this report of a "Christian ecstasy" with the Plotinian ecstasy recounted in Bk. VII, Ch. XVII, 23, above.

298Cf. Wis. 7:21-30; see especially v. 27: "And being but one, she [Wisdom] can do all things: and remaining in herself the same, she makes all things new."

299Matt. 25:21.

3001 Cor. 15:51.

301Navigius, who had joined them in Milan, but about whom Augustine is curiously silent save for the brief and unrevealing references in De beata vita, I, 6, to II, 7, and De ordine, I, 2-3.

302A.D. 387.

303Nec omnino moriebatur. Is this an echo of Horace's famous memorial ode, Exegi monumentum aere perennius . . . non omnis moriar? Cf. Odes, Book III, Ode XXX.

3041 Tim. 1:5.

305Cf. this passage, as Augustine doubtless intended, with the story of his morbid and immoderate grief at the death of his boyhood friend, above, Bk. IV, Chs. IV, 9, to VII, 12.

306Ps. 101:1.

307Ps. 68:5.

308Sir Tobie Matthew (adapted). For Augustine's own analysis of the scan­sion and structure of this hymn, see De musica, VI, 2:2-3; for a brief commentary on the Latin text, see A. S. Walpole, Early Latin Hymns (Cambridge, 1922), pp. 44-49.

3091 Cor. 15:22.

310Matt. 5:22.

3112 Cor. 10:17.

312Rom. 8:34.

313Cf. Matt. 6:12.

314Ps. 143:2.

315Matt. 5:7.

316Cf. Rom. 9:15.

317Ps. 119:108.

318Cf. 1 Cor. 13:12.

319Eph. 5:27.

320Ps. 51:6.

321John 3:21.

3221 Cor. 2:11.

3231 Cor. 13:7.

324Ps. 32:1.

325Ps. 144:7, 8.

326Cf. Rev. 8:3-5. "And the smoke of the incense with the prayers of the saints went up before God out of the angel's hand" (v. 4).

3271 Cor. 2:11.

3281 Cor. 13:12.

329Isa. 58:10.

330Rom. 1:20.

331Cf. Rom. 9:15.

332One of the pre-Socratic "physiologers" who taught that aiqhr was the primary element in h fusigz. Cf. Cicero's On the Nature of the Gods (a likely source for Augustine's knowledge of early Greek philosophy), I, 10: "After Anaximander comes Anaximenes, who taught that the air is God. . . ."

333An important text for Augustine's conception of sensation and the relation of body and mind. Cf. On Music, VI, 5:10; The Magnitude of the Soul, 25:48; On the Trinity, XII, 2:2; see also F. Coplestone, A History of Philosophy (London, 1950), II, 51-60, and E. Gilson, Introduction ˆ l'Žtude de Saint Augustin, pp. 74-87.

334Rom. 1:20.

335Reading videnti (with De Labriolle) instead of vident (as in Skutella).

336Ps. 32:9.

337The notion of the soul's immediate self-knowledge is a basic conception in Augustine's psychology and epistemology; cf. the refutation of skepticism, Si fallor, sum in On Free Will, II, 3:7; see also the City of God, XI, 26.

338Again, the mind-body dualism typical of the Augustinian tradition. Cf. E. Gilson, The Spirit of Medieval Philosophy (Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, 1940), pp. 173-188; and E. Gilson, The Philosophy of Saint Bona­venture (Sheed & Ward, New York, 1938), ch. XI.

339Luke 15:8.

340Cf. Isa. 55:3.

341Cf. the early dialogue "On the Happy Life" in Vol. I of The Fathers of the Church (New York, 1948).

342Gal. 5:17.

343Ps. 42:11.

344Cf. Enchiridion, VI, 19ff.

345When he is known at all, God is known as the Self-evident. This is, of course, not a doctrine of innate ideas but rather of the necessity, and reality, of divine illumination as the dynamic source of all our knowledge of divine reality. Cf. Coplestone, op. cit., ch. IV, and Cushman, op. cit.

346Cf. Wis. 8:21.

347Cf. Enneads, VI, 9:4.

3481 John 2:16.

349Eph. 3:20.

3501 Cor. 15:54.

351Cf. Matt. 6:34.

3521 Cor. 9:27.

353Cf. Luke 21:34.

354Cf. Wis. 8:21.

355Ecclus. 18:30.

3561 Cor. 8:8.

357Phil. 4:11-13.

358Ps. 103:14.

359Cf. Gen. 3:19.

360Luke 15:24.

361Ecclus. 23:6.

362Titus 1:15.

363Rom. 14:20.

3641 Tim. 4:4.

3651 Cor. 8:8.

366Cf. Col. 2:16.

367Rom. 14:3.

368Luke 5:8.

369John 16:33.

370Cf. Ps. 139:16.

371Cf. the evidence for Augustine's interest and proficiency in music in his essay De musica, written a decade earlier.

372Cf. 2 Cor. 5:2.

373Cf. Tobit, chs. 2 to 4.

374Gen. 27:1; cf. Augustine's Sermon IV, 20:21f.

375Cf. Gen., ch. 48.

376Again, Ambrose, Deus, creator omnium, an obvious favorite of Augustine's. See above, Bk. IX, Ch. XII, 32.

377Ps. 25:15.

378Ps. 121:4.

379Ps. 26:3.

3801 John 2:16.

381Cf. Ps. 103:3-5.

382Cf. Matt. 11:30.

3831 Peter 5:5.

384Cf. Ps. 18:7, 13.

385Cf. Isa. 14:12-14.

386Cf. Prov. 27:21.

387Cf. Ps. 19:12.

388Cf. Ps. 141:5.

389Ps. 109:22.

390Ps. 31:22.

391Cf. the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican, Luke 18:9-14.

392Cf. Eph. 2:2.

3932 Cor. 11:14.

394Rom. 6:23.

3951 Tim. 2:5.

396Cf. Rom. 8:32.

397Phil. 2:6-8.

398Cf. Ps. 88:5; see Ps. 87:6 (Vulgate).

399Ps. 103:3.

400Cf. Rom. 8:34.

401John 1:14.

4022 Cor. 5:15.

403Ps. 119:18.

404Col. 2:3.

405Cf. Ps. 21:27 (Vulgate).

406In the very first sentence of Confessions, Bk. I, Ch. I. Here we have a basic and recurrent motif of the Confessions from beginning to end: the celebration and praise of the greatness and goodness of God--Creator and Redeemer. The repetition of it here connects this concluding section of the Confessions, Bks. XI-XIII, with the preceding part.

407Matt. 6:8.

408The "virtues" of the Beatitudes, the reward for which is blessedness; cf. Matt. 5:1-11.

409Ps. 118:1; cf. Ps. 136.

410An interesting symbol of time's ceaseless passage; the reference is to a water clock (clepsydra).

411Cf. Ps. 130:1, De profundis.

412Ps. 74:16.

413This metaphor is probably from Ps. 29:9.

414A repetition of the metaphor above, Bk. IX, Ch. VII, 16.

415Ps. 26:7.

416Ps. 119:18.

417Cf. Matt. 6:33.

418Col. 2:3.

419Augustine was profoundly stirred, in mind and heart, by the great mystery of creation and the Scriptural testimony about it. In addition to this long and involved analysis of time and creation which follows here, he returned to the story in Genesis repeatedly: e.g., De Genesi contra Manicheos; De Genesi ad litteram, liber imperfectus (both written before the Confessions); De Genesi ad litteram, libri XII and De civitate Dei, XI-XII (both written after the Confessions).

420The final test of truth, for Augustine, is self-evidence and the final source of truth is the indwelling Logos.

421Cf. the notion of creation in Plato's Timaeus (29D-30C; 48E-50C), in which the Demiurgos (craftsman) fashions the universe from pre-existent matter (to upodoch) and imposes as much form as the Receptacle will receive. The notion of the world fashioned from pre-existent matter of some sort was a universal idea in Greco-Roman cosmology.

422Cf. Ps. 33:9.

423Matt. 3:17.

424Cf. the Vulgate of John 8:25.

425Cf. Augustine's emphasis on Christ as true Teacher in De Magistro.

426Cf. John 3:29.

427Cf. Ps. 103:4, 5 (mixed text).

428Ps. 104:24.

429Pleni vetustatis suae. In Sermon CCLXVII, 2 (PL 38, c. 1230), Augustine has a similar usage. Speaking of those who pour new wine into old containers, he says: Carnalitas vetustas est, gratia novitas est, "Carnality is the old nature; grace is the new"; cf. Matt. 9:17.

430The notion of the eternity of this world was widely held in Greek philosophy, in different versions, and was incorporated into the Manichean rejection of the Christian doctrine of creatio ex nihilo which Augustine is citing here. He returns to the question, and his answer to it, again in De civitate Dei, XI, 4-8.

431The unstable "heart" of those who confuse time and eternity.

432Cf. Ps. 102:27.

433Ps. 2:7.

434Spatium, which means extension either in space or time.

435The breaking light and the image of the rising sun.

436Cf. Ps. 139:6.

437Memoria, contuitus, and expectatio: a pattern that corresponds vaguely to the movement of Augustine's thought in the Confessions: from direct experience back to the supporting memories and forward to the outreach of hope and confidence in God's provident grace.

438Cf. Ps. 116:10.

439Cf. Matt. 25:21, 23.

440Communes notitias, the universal principles of "common sense." This idea became a basic category in scholastic epistemology.

441Gen. 1:14.

442Cf. Josh. 10:12-14.

443Cf. Ps. 18:28.

444Cubitum, literally the distance between the elbow and the tip of the middle finger; in the imperial system of weights and measures it was 17.5 inches.

445Distentionem, "spread-out-ness"; cf. Descartes' notion of res extensae, and its relation to time.

446Ps. 100:3.

447Here Augustine begins to summarize his own answers to the questions he has raised in his analysis of time.

448The same hymn of Ambrose quoted above, Bk. IX, Ch. XII, 39, and analyzed again in De musica, VI, 2:2.

449This theory of time is worth comparing with its most notable restatement in modern poetry, in T.S. Eliot's Four Quartets and especially "Burnt Norton."

450Ps. 63:3.

451Cf. Phil. 3:12-14.

452Cf. Ps. 31:10.

453Note here the preparation for the transition from this analysis of time in Bk. XI to the exploration of the mystery of creation in Bks. XII and XIII.

454Celsitudo, an honorific title, somewhat like "Your Highness."

455Rom. 8:31.

456Matt. 7:7, 8.

457Vulgate, Ps. 113:16 (cf. Ps. 115:16, K.J.; see also Ps. 148:4, both Vulgate and K.J.): Caelum caeli domino, etc. Augustine finds a distinction here for which the Hebrew text gives no warrant. The Hebrew is a typical nominal sentence and means simply "The heavens are the heavens of Yahweh"; cf. the Soncino edition of The Psalms, edited by A. Cohen; cf. also R.S.V., Ps. 115:16. The LXX reading (o ouranoz tou ouranou) seems to rest on a variant Hebrew text. This idiomatic construction does not mean "the heavens of the heavens" (as it is too literally translated in the LXX), but rather "highest heaven." This is a familiar way, in Hebrew, of emphasizing a superlative (e.g., "King of kings," "Song of songs"). The singular thing can be described superlatively only in terms of itself!

458Earth and sky.

459It is interesting that Augustine should have preferred the invisibilis et incomposita of the Old Latin version of Gen. 1:2 over the inanis et vacua of the Vulgate, which was surely accessible to him. Since this is to be a key phrase in the succeeding exegesis this reading can hardly have been the casual citation of the old and familiar version. Is it possible that Augustine may have had the sensibilities and associations of his readers in mind--for many of them may have not known Jerome's version or, at least, not very well?

460Abyssus, literally, the unplumbed depths of the sea, and as a constant meaning here, "the depths beyond measure."

461Gen. 1:2.

462Augustine may not have known the Platonic doctrine of nonbeing (cf.
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