Faith, Hope and Charity

Faith, Hope and Charity

Faith, Hope and Charity

Faith, Hope and Charity

Excerpt

The title given to the book here offered in a new translation is the only one by which the author himself referred to it. For centuries past it has been more familiarly known as the Enchiridion, due no doubt to the fact that three times in the treatise itself (4, 6, 122)mention is made by St. Augustine of the request he had received from a certain Laurentius to compose for him an enchiridion, or handbook, which would touch briefly on the principal points of the Christian faith. Augustine took some pains to show that he himself had so understood the request and then set himself to the task. Although he allowed himself at times to be drawn into rather lengthy discussions, he nevertheless always remained aware of his main purpose. Even so, when he reached the end of the treatise he had composed, he expressed his doubts as to whether he had really succeeded in holding the finished product down to an enchiridion such as Laurentius had requested, and preferred him to be the judge.

But the term Enchiridion can only indicate the purpose of an author to present something in outline; it tells us nothing about the contents of the book or the nature of the thing outlined. Hence, it has seemed preferable to give to the treatise the title by which Augustine himself always referred to it, lifting it from the position of sub-title to which custom has relegated it. In his Retractationes (2. 63), for instance, he tells us very simply that he had written "a book on Faith, Hope, and Charity." Now, since this is pre-

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