Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Augustine's Confessions: A Biography

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Augustine's Confessions: A Biography

Article excerpt

Wills, Garry. Augustine's Confessions: A Biography. [Lives of Great Religious Books.] (Princeton: Princeton University Press. 2011. Pp. x, 166. $1995. ISBN 978-0-691-14357-6.)

Even though it is called "a biography," this book is rather a book about a book: the Confessions. Biographical materials are found, but they do not appear to be the intended focus. Its rapid development of thorny issues suggest that it requires a reader who has read widely enough to recognize when sweeping statements or clever words hide a disputed issue. It does contribute a valuable reference to some aspects of present-day scholarship, but there also is an annoying repetition of some idées reçues that should have been seen as such.

Chapter 8 sees books 11-13 of the Confessions as culmination, not addendum. Searching into the meaning of the first verses of the book of Genesis, St. Augustine is already letting his faith seek understanding of the God in whose name he was baptized: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. What he describes elsewhere as "a theological profession of faith" (p. 27) applies well in this context. …

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