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Confessions (Oxford World's Classics)

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3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  21,779 ratings  ·  1,003 reviews
Augustine's Confessions is one of the most influential and most innovative works of Latin literature. Written in the author's early forties in the last years of the fourth century A.D. and during his first years as a bishop, they reflect on his life and on the activity of remembering and interpreting a life. Books I-IV are concerned with infancy and learning to talk, schoo...more
Paperback, 311 pages
Published June 25th 1998 by Oxford University Press (first published 397)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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K.D. Absolutely
Sep 25, 2010 K.D. Absolutely rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 501 Must Read Books (Memoirs)
Shelves: 501, religion
I never dreamed that one day I would finished reading a 300-page memoir written by a ancient Catholic saint. See, how many saints who lived during the first millennium have written himself a memoir?

I twice tried to read The Holy Bible (once in English and once in Tagalog) from cover to cover but failed. I just got distracted by too many details and hard-to-remember names and ancient places and I could not appreciate what were all those characters are doing. Excuses, excuses. They say that readin...more
Sarah
Aug 21, 2009 Sarah rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone
Recommended to Sarah by: Dr. Harmon
Shelves: theology
Chadwick's translation of Augustine's Confessions (note that this is a confession to God, while read by men) is one of the best. It is not costly in a monetary sense; new it is a mere 6.95. However, it is deceptively short. A chapter will take you two hours if you give it the attention it deserves. Augustine is a circular writer. He is not a bad writer - he was known to be a merciless editor, in fact. But he goes around and around, especially later on in the last chapters of the book when he is...more
James
It was slow, it was dense, and it was militantly Christian. So why is that The Confessions is such an unavoidably fascinating work? Augustine appears here as a fully realized person, with all the good and the bad that that implies; it's as if the book was a conversation with God and a fly-on-the-wall was taking dictation. Since God obviously would have known Augustine's transgressions before they even occurred, Augustine thus has nothing to hide in this personal narrative, or at least makes it a...more
James
I have read this book several times, both as part of the Basic Program of Liberal Education at the University of Chicago and most recently as one of the monthly selections of a reading group in which I participate. Like all classics it bears rereading and yields new insights each time I read it. But it also is unchanging in ways that struck me when I first read it; for Augustine's Confessions seem almost modern in the telling with a psychological perspective that brings his emotional growth aliv...more
Nathaniel
I hated this book when I read it in ninth grade. I'm somewhat more tolerant of it now, which still isn't saying a lot. This is an important book to read once to understand how Church dogma developed in the period between Rome and the early Middle Ages, but that doesn't mean it's the least bit interesting outside of an academic context, at least not unless you're a die-hard apologist for the Catholic Church. In fact, most of it is self-righteous dogmatic crap with a majorly and stupidly overdevel...more
Jerome Peterson
"Confessions" is the type of book with a heavy dynamic caliber that it should be read slow, thoughtfully, and with a highlighter. Saint Augustine doe not hold back in his shortcomings. He paints a black, very personal, wicked youth. He confesses all and bares his soul. The passages about his mother were extremely soulful revealing the man as an affectionate son. He writes with hopeful authority; yet in a humble voice and always in a way that I could relate with it in today's hectic pace. His sty...more
Farren
Jan 15, 2010 Farren added it
Are you there God? It's me, St. Augustine.
Greg Garrett
I used to hate Augustine of Hippo. I found him too anxious, too focused on the sexual sins he was sure he was committing, and too sure about the fallen nature of human beings. The Confessions changed all that for me. It's like how when you meet someone you can't judge them in the same way any more; The Confessions helped me understand that Augustine--like everyone--was trying to understand his life, his place in the world, and his motivations for doing things. Most importantly, The Confessions h...more
Michael
Written during the waning of the Roman Empire around 400AD, this account of the early life of a seminal theologian of the Catholic church is a personal perspective on what he regards as his sinful life leading up to his conversion. His writing is surprisingly accessible, almost modern in its approach to weighing the factors that contribute to growing up. His mother was a Christian, but he took a long time to come around. He excelled in school and hungered to elucidate abstract knowledge, eventua...more
Emily
I hate to say it, but I have some bad news about the Penguin Great Ideas series with which I'm so smitten. I'm not sure if you'll find this as shocking as I did, but here it is: some of these books are excerpted. And I say "excerpted" only so as to avoid an uglier word: if pressed, I must admit that this edition of Augustine's Confessions is - I can barely stand to write it - ABRIDGED.

To Penguin's credit, they don't try to hide the abridgment, as some expurgators have done before them. Right on...more
Gwen Burrow
Feels rather like reading the Psalms. That should tell you it's good.
Bryan
Feb 21, 2011 Bryan rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in Christianity, spirituality, philosophy, and theology
Recommended to Bryan by: Mrs. King, my high school English teacher
I went into this book with wary expectations, but by the end of it was fully enthusiastic about Augustine's account of his conversion.

There were two things that always kept me from reading this book: the first was that I read only part of his quote "Lord, give me chastity, but not yet," when I was younger and so it didn't settle with me. I mistakenly thought that "The Confessions" were Augustine's attempts to confess a sin in order that he could keep doing it, and that seemed like a waste of tim...more
J Frederick
The first half of the book is primarily autobiographical. St. Augustine writes about life as the tormented seeker. He moves from aesthetics to Manicheanism to Christianity, reckoning with questions as to what is the ultimate reality. Augustine eventually finds comfort in the Christian God of his mother Monica, a God that he previously felt was far too mythological, before having the scriptures explicated by St. Ambrose of Milan (This story should be familiar to anyone who has struggled against p...more
Sean
In his "Confessions", Augustine tells the story of his early life and ultimate acceptance of a Christian life. Augustine was born in 354 on a farm in Algeria, the son of a Christian mother and a pagan father. He describes his early life, during which time he mastered Latin literature and became a teacher of literature and public speaking.

Augustine describes in detail his secular life, marriage of 15 years, as well as his personal spiritual journey from a life of earthly desires towards the accep...more
Katie
St. Augustine’s Confessions is such a lovely and honest book. I’d recommend it to everyone, if people who aren’t remotely religious. It’s one of those works that really manages to encapsulate certain feelings and articulate them in ways that are clear but also sort of startling in their clarity, saying obvious things in ways you’d never quite thought of before.

Take this bit from Book 8: “In my heart I kept saying ‘Let it be now, let it be now!’ and merely by saying this I was on the point of ma...more
Erik Graff
Jan 14, 2014 Erik Graff rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Erik by: Cyril Richardson
Shelves: biography
I've read this book twice now, once in seminary in New York for myself and once in graduate school in Chicago for a class on Augustine taught by David Hassel, S.J. Eight years had intervened, so the rereading was not unpleasant.

Most of the books of the Confessions are surprisingly accessible. The jaring elements for most moderns would probably be, one, the lengthy excurses about theology in the later books; two, the callous disregard he displays towards the mother of his son (her name is never g...more
Justin Evans
Considering that the style of Augie's work is completely and utterly impenetrable, this is actually a pretty decent read. Just come to it expecting circularity, meditation, rapturous theology and self-flagellation, and you'll come away impressed.
Don't expect anything linear, and you'll be all the more impressed when he ends up, every now and then, out-Aristotling Aristotle with arguments of the (x-->y)&(y-->z)&(z-->p)&(p-->q); ~x is absurd; therefore q variety.
Don't exp...more
Julie Davis
I'm reading this for our Catholic women's book club ... it's the November selection so if I begin now I should finish on time.

I have tried reading this book twice before and always gotten bogged down in Augustine's complaints about being beaten by his tutor. This time I am going to just skim or skip those complaints in the interest of seeing what I DO like about the book rather than letting road bumps throw me off track.

It's kind of ironic that Augustine is one of my earliest saint "friends" wh...more
Ike
Gus,

Your confessions are laced with wonderfully eloquent words.

But...

sometimes your dualism (leftover from your Manichean days) makes your ideas hard to swallow.


Regards,

IB
Jared Henderson
Jan 23, 2013 Jared Henderson rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone and everyone
This is the most amazing book I have ever read. It, more than any other book has had a significant impact on my life. This autobiography chronicles the life and religious struggles of Augustine of Hippo from his childhood to his young adult days as a Gnostic, all the way to his final acceptance of Christianity as an older adult. The amazing thing about this books is the intelligent and articulate arguments Augustine conveys both in favor of and against different religious/philosophical ideologie...more
Karen
Wow, if you're ever struggling to give up something bad for something better (who isn't)- this book is inspiring! It is full of beautiful imagery about coming closer to God and giving up things to know Him.

I have to many favorite quotes to write, but here are a few of my favorite parts.

St. Augustine was a bit of a sex-addict, from what I read, and he tried to give it up time and time again. He was coming closer to God from his studies, and he felt like two different people. He said, "I, no doubt...more
booklady
Second reading 12-30 August 2004



I wish I could remember the first time I read Confessions but it was sometime back in the mid-90s and that is the closest I can narrow it down. If I had several hours to kill, I could go digging in my old book logs, and find the exact date. Since I don't have that kind of time at the moment, I'll just settle for the second time I read the book which was when I took a class in Spiritual Classics. It was the first book we read in the class and an excellent introduct...more
Bet Roberts
I enjoyed this more than I was expecting to, and it really grew on me the more I read it. Augustine writes absolutely beautifully; there were often times where I would stop to re-read a sentence. His theology is compelling, and his exegesis of Genesis toward the end of the book is intelligent and a delight to read. He never seems like he's talking down to you, but it isn't hard to grasp either. His passion and devotion are moving and even inspiring. It's a book that will make you think, even if...more
David Withun
Every time I start to get a little down on St. Augustine -- what with his invention of some pretty deplorable doctrines (ie original sin) -- I need to reread his Confessions. In fact, everybody should read his Confessions. It is an absolutely beautiful book! St. Augustine pours out his soul before God and all the world -- confessing his sins and telling the story of how he came to Christ, watching for the subtle movement of the Holy Spirit in all things and seeing God's guiding hand behind every...more
Patrick Schlabs


An, obviously seminal book in Christian thought and theology. The first 9 books (chapters) walk through Augustine's searching to find rest and satisfaction in everything under the sun before coming to faith in Christ. The last 4 books unpack his philosophy and theology on memory, time, and Scripture (among other things). The first 9 books were very enjoyable, while a large portion of the last 4 were a bit of a chore to get through. Overall, a very valuable read for any Christian. Would probably...more
David Sarkies
Sep 06, 2014 David Sarkies rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Christians and classical historians
Recommended to David by: A Christian
Shelves: christian
The personal journey of a man searching for God
7 September 2014

Saint Augustine, at heart, is a theologian, and the problem I find with most theologians is that much of their work tends to be dry and academic, and Saint Augustine is no exception. However in his Confessions we encounter a completely different side, at least in the first nine books. Saint Augustine, one of the theological pillars of the Christian faith, opens up his heart, and his past, for all to see in what could be considered t...more
John Doe
Augustine believes in god. Is that possible anymore without quietly smirking? Isn't god dead? Maybe he wasn't dead when Augustine wrote this book. Augustine's faith was a miracle, and he expressed his faith with every line of the book.

I didn't agree with everything. Sometimes he seemed to be too hard on himself. But I am glad I read it. The Confessions are a picture of authentic christian faith.
Rob
St. Augustine often quotes the Psalms as he prayerfully recounts his life, giving The Confessions a somewhat devotional tone. I hope it's on your shelf.

I left Books X through XIII for another day. Those chapters are philosophical and theological works, and less autobiographical. They also demonstrate Augustine's allegorical style of Biblical interpretation.
Zelda
Sep 19, 2014 Zelda rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2014
There is a reason why Augustine of Hippo is regarded as one of the most important thinkers of the Western Tradition and that reason is encapsulated in this book. If he had retired after writing his explanation of the nature of evil, his contribution to the advancement of reason would still be significant. But he does not retire after this exposition and the whole of the work continues to provoke the mind to examination and the inward turn.

I'm not a believer but I wish more believers would read...more
Pierre E. Loignon
Voilà d’abord et avant tout le livre d’une âme chrétienne qui s’est enfin trouvée et qui revient sur son passé en l’évoquant devant son Dieu pour s’en repentir et Lui exposer sa reconnaissance.
Mais c’est également une œuvre sublime qui saura séduire aussi bien le chrétien, que le littéraire ou le philosophe.
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Which version/translation is best for reading and rereading...? 2 21 Jul 18, 2013 07:40PM  
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Augustine of Hippo, also known as St. Augustine, St. Austin, was bishop of Hippo Regius (present-day Annaba, Algeria). He was a Latin philosopher and theologian from the Africa Province of the Roman Empire and is generally considered as one of the greatest Christian thinkers of all times. His writings were very influential in the development of Western Christianity. According to his contemporary J...more
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