Conversions and Confessions

Book - 2015
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Augustine is the person from the ancient world about whom we know most. He is the author of an intimate masterpiece, the Confessions, which continues to delight its many admirers. In it he writes about his infancy and his schooling in the classics in late Roman North Africa, his remarkable mother, his sexual sins ('Give me chastity, but not yet,' he famously prayed), his time in an outlawed heretical sect, his worldly career and friendships and his gradual return to God. His account of his own eventual conversion is a classic study of anguish, hesitation and what he believes to be God's intervention. It has inspired philosophers, Christian thinkers and monastic followers, but it still leaves readers wondering why exactly Augustine chose to compose the Confessions, a work like none before it. Robin Lane Fox follows Augustine on a brilliantly described journey, combining the latest scholarship with recently found letters and sermons by Augustine himself to give a portrait of his subject which is subtly different from older biographies. Augustine's heretical years as a Manichaean, his relation to non-Christian philosophy, his mystical aspirations and the nature of his conversion are among the aspects of his life which stand out in a sharper light. For the first time Lane Fox compares him with two contemporaries, an older pagan and a younger Christian, each of whom also wrote about themselves and who illumine Augustine's life and writings by their different choices. More than a decade passed between Augustine's conversion and his beginning the Confessions. Lane Fox argues that the Confessions and their thinking were the results of a long gestation over these years, not a sudden change of perspective, but that they were then written as a single swift composition and that its final books are a coherent consummation of its scriptural meditation and personal biography. This exceptional study reminds us why we are so excited and so moved by Augustine's story. 'Robin Lane Fox's Augustine is a masterpiece. Augustine emerges fully as a man of the late Roman expire, deeply formed from the beginning by the intellectual concerns of his day to which he formulated his own brilliant, unique and lasting responses.' Susanna Elm, Professor of History and Classics at University of California, Berkeley and author of Virgins of God ' Augustine vividly retells the gripping story of Augustine's serial self-reinventions with both sympathy and shrewd insight. Robin Lane Fox brings to life the world of late Roman antiquity, and one of its most compelling personalities, Augustine is a perfect alloy of great scholarship and great story-telling.' Paula Fredriksen, Professor of the Appreciation of Scripture Emerita, Boston University and author of Augustine and the Jews 'Robin Lane Fox brings his customary wit, verve, and insight to bear on the record of a passionate and complicated man. Author and subject are well-matched, and readers can freshly savour Augustine's intelligence and ambition, as well as his depth and his devotion.' Robin Darling Young, Associate Professor of Spirituality at the Catholic University of America 'In this book, Robin Lane Fox weaves imaginative parallels with figures like Libanius, Ambrose, Jerome, Sinesius and others into his telling of the story of Augustine from his youth to the time when he wrote the Confessions . Thus the reader is drawn into Augustine's life by wide-ranging attention to the classical context for the Confessions . All thirteen books of the Confessions are treated, attending at length to aspects of Augustine's life that others barely touch.' Allan Fitzgerald, OSA, Director of the Augustinian Institute, Villanova University and editor of Augustinian Studies
Publisher: [London] :, Allen Lane, an imprint of Penguin Books,, 2015.
Copyright Date: ©2015
ISBN: 9781846144004
Characteristics: xiv, 657 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates :,color illustrations ;,24 cm


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