Saturday, November 13

Augustine: Confessions Book 10

See (this) for a description of this project. Also, add to that list, my synopsis/essay on Book 9 (here). Four to go. Actually, this book (10) is the turning point of the book. In this book we wrap up with the faith journey/confession of Augustine. The last 3 books are biblical exegesis. We will have to discover how they connect with the earlier books when we get to them. At any rate, this book wraps up and concludes Augustine's personal story.

Our guide from the Companion for this book is Pamela Bright. Ms Bright is the Professor of Historical Theology at Concordia University in Montreal. She has published articles on Augustine.

Ms Bright tells us (quoted from Augustine Book 10):
When I have adhered to you with the whole of myself, I shall neer have "pain and toil", and my entire life will be full of you. You lift up the person whom you fill. But for the present, because I am not full of you, I am a burden to myself ... see I do not hide my wounds. You are the physician, I am the patient.

She asks is this book is:
  • a summation of the previous 9 books?
  • does it fit in more properly with the next 3 books.
  • or is an (awkward?) if brilliant bridge between the two sections of the book.
Ms Bright tells us that this book, can be regarded as a summation or conclusion to Augustine's search for God, but that this search has ended with Augustine realizing even more fully why he must try to "adhere" to God. But this argument that this book is the summation is strained by the change in narrative style. While the previous Books related Augustine's life in a narrative fashion, this Book does not.

Ms Bright argues that the structure of Book 10 is as follows. After an introduction, three "panels" make up a triptych structure (left and right panels being discussions of memory and the concupiscences and the center panel being "true happiness in God".

The first seven sections of Book 10 elaborate the purpose behind the whole work. This is not just a personal confession to God, but a communion and sharing with other Christians his transfomative story.

First Panel
Searching for God. Augustine loves God. He asks himself, "what is it that I love?". He commences a search though his memory and experiences for how he has experienced God.
Central Panel
"To set one's joy on you" is the indespensible condition for seeking and finding the authentically happy life.
Third Panel
The three concupisiences (temptations of "flesh", "eyes", and "pride") are then considered. After a long discussion of these, Augustine looks forward to his cure.

Well, now that Ms Bright has framed the book for me, what are my impressions on reading the text. Well, this is a long Book, I will defer that to a later post (tonight or tomorrow).