Ruth's Reviews > The Trinity

The Trinity by Augustine of Hippo
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it was amazing
Read 2 times. Last read December 9, 2018 to January 13, 2019.

Finished! A very difficult book, on a difficult topic, but I learned a lot from it. Very valuable.

I love Augustine's style, he really takes you along his thought process. Also loved the footnotes, which were very helpful.

It took me a while to get through this book, mostly because lots of sentences are very long and complicated, one really needs to pay attention and focus, to keep track of the argument.

I will write a proper review later. I need some time to reflect, recall what I learned and why that is important.
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Reading Progress

July 3, 2018 – Started Reading
July 3, 2018 – Shelved
July 3, 2018 –
page 70
14.83% "This is going to be just wonderful! I've just finished the introduction and I am very excited about the whole idea and structure of this book."
July 5, 2018 –
page 85
18.01% "He is arguing from scripture that the three persons are not separate. What I find most beautiful is not so much the technical details, but the overwhelming thought that the whole Trinity abides in us (see Jn 14:16,22) and the hope of the future of seeing God!"
July 5, 2018 –
page 85
18.01% "An interesting thought : the flesh differs more from the soul (though in one and the same human) than two souls differ from each other.
Makes me wonder again about soul and body, how they are related. (as I pondered in )"
July 5, 2018 –
page 88
18.64% "Interesting distinctions about Jesus as God and man. "in the form of God 'he is the firstborn of all creation (...) all things hold together in him' (Col 1:15) in the form of man he is 'the head of the body' (Col 1:18)"
This helps me see how it can be that we have Jesus as our king and simultaneously also have a very personal and intimate relationship with him."
July 13, 2018 –
page 108
22.88% "This is an interesting thought, the Holy Spirit is represented by various things, like fire, water, a dove.. but not in the same way as Jesus is called the rock, the lamb. His argument is a bit too long to repeat here, but I think it is helpful to appreciate more Jesus' real union with creation and at the same time the presence of the Holy Spirit as indicated by signs."
July 20, 2018 –
page 123
26.06% "He is now describing the meaning of the story where Moses wanted to see God and stood on a rock and saw his back. Very interesting explanations, even more so since I remember what Gregory of Nyssa said on this topic, and Augustine seems to take it just a little bit further"
July 29, 2018 –
page 130
27.54% "So much for the idea that the people used to be superstitious and ignorant... Augustine complains that secular scientist no longer see the hand of God in things like eclipses and comets. (he says their explanation is not wrong, but only proximate and secondary.)"
July 29, 2018 –
page 134
28.39% "This is a funny way of explaining the miracle: "when water was turned into wine at the Lord's bidding with unusual speed" (skipping the part of roots to vines and then grapes)"
July 29, 2018 –
page 140
29.66% "Interesting explanation on the changing of Moses' rod into a serpent and also the magicians' rods. He says the serpent means death. Moses' rod which turned into a serpent and then back thus indicates resurrection. The serpents of the wizards stand for the death of this world. They will only be able to rise again when they are incorporated in Christ by believing in him. (as Moses' rod ate the others)"
July 30, 2018 –
page 156
33.05% "One of the things that keep puzzling me is how the death of someone else (Jesus) can possibly save me. Or also what did I do to deserve death? (see also my blog )
Augustine now starts an interesting line of thought, that uses musical harmony as an analogy. I am most interested what more he will say on this point."
August 1, 2018 –
page 168
35.59% "The truth is, men were more inclined to avoid the death of the flesh which they could not avoid, than the death of the spirit; that is, they shrank more from the punishment than from what deserved punishment. Few, after all, care - or care very much - about not sinning; but they make a great fuss about not dying, though it is in fact unobtainable."
August 1, 2018 –
page 169
35.81% "For our sakes the Lord paid this one death which he did not owe in order that the death we do owe might do us no harm."
August 1, 2018 –
page 170
36.02% ""Thus the son of God did not disdain to become our friend in the companionship of death."
Isn't this just overwhelmingly friendly of Jesus? I suppose if you read the whole paragraph that leads up to this sentence it will come out better, but I find it deeply moving."
August 3, 2018 –
page 181
38.35% "That he is sent means that he is known by someone in time."
August 3, 2018 –
page 186
August 12, 2018 –
page 198
41.95% "A footnote states: "Augustine is feeling his way and has to discover this fact [mistake] by examination of language. Such confusions are part and parcel of Augustine's via inventionis, which is so different from Aquinas' via doctrinae."

I think this is precisely why Augustine is such a great teacher, he gives insight in his thought process. Not only the conclusions, but also how he arrived at those."
August 12, 2018 –
page 201
42.58% "I'm always a bit mystified on what the word 'spirit' means. What is 'our' spirit, what does it mean when they say God is spirit, etc.
Now Augustine writes something very interesting about our spirit vs the Holy Spirit: "What we received in order to be is one thing, what we received to be holy is another".
So our spirit is essential to our being. I suppose the word spirited also comes from that."
August 13, 2018 –
page 203
43.01% ""There was not any time for time to begin in before time began."
The first time I read some of Augustine's ideas on time, in his confessions, I was so very impressed! And still, I really enjoy his clear thoughts."
August 13, 2018 –
page 204
43.22% "When the saints are converted and find him, then they are said to begin to be loved by him, in order to state the thing in a way that can be grasped by human feeling. So too when he is said to be angry with the wicked and pleased with the good, they change, not he; just as light is harsh to weak eyes, pleasant to strong; but it is the eyes, not the light, that change."
September 1, 2018 –
page 204
43.22% "I got stuck at book 6, and have now first written this :"
September 2, 2018 –
page 225
47.67% "The footnotes in this book are really amazingly helpful. Here a wonderful explanation about the words that Augustine uses. When Augustine says 'image' he would mean a mirror image. And then he says Jesus is God's image in the sense of the light and we also, but in the sense of image.

So lovely to see this! Jesus is the light that shines in the mirror and then we will (more or less) reflect that."
September 13, 2018 –
page 238
50.42% "I just love these introductory essays! The translator really adds a lot of value by explaining the outline of the arguments.

And very interesting argument indeed!
It never occurred to me that in order to say that you believe in God, you must first at least have some idea of what that concept entails. But this is a problem, for how can we ever have any idea what God is?"
October 21, 2018 –
page 247
52.33% "But naturally the spirit which believes what it does not see must be on its guard against fabricating something that does not exist, and thus hoping in and loving something false. If this happens, it will not be charity from a pure heart and a good conscience and an unfabricated faith (1 Tm 1:5) as the apostle puts it."
October 25, 2018 –
page 254
53.81% "Brilliant! In a paragraph about how we are closest to God when we learn to love, he says : "Jesus didn't say, 'learn from me because I raise those who have been four days dead', but 'because I am meek and lowly of heart'."
Great powers aren't really all that important."
December 3, 2018 –
page 272
57.63% "It appears that I understood rather well what Augustine meant when I struggled with Book 6, Chapter 5, paragraph 7. See my text:
Now in Book 9 Augustine also speaks about love loving love.
I like the way he speaks about our inner life. For us, humans, he makes a distinction between 'I love myself' and 'I love my love'.
Very interesting."
December 4, 2018 –
page 277
58.69% "Hey this is interesting. When I express some of my thoughts, you can *believe* me. But when I explain about some general truth, you can *agree* with me, because you see the same thing. (as opposed to what goes on in my mind).
Interesting difference between internal and external truth."
December 9, 2018 – Started Reading
December 9, 2018 –
page 289
61.23% "I always like what Augustine says about words. Just as now: "it is plain for almost any rational soul to see that there is beauty about this skill that enables men to know each other's thoughts by uttering meaningful sounds""
December 9, 2018 –
page 296
62.71% "For some people, if they are told to think about something without imagining bodies, they suppose it is simply nothing."
December 9, 2018 –
page 298
63.14% "I always thought that "know thyself" meant to know your own character. But Augustine takes the words to a much deeper level and says that the deepest things we know are: that we exist and understand and want things. This is what we know as the essence of our mind (If I understood that correctly)."
December 9, 2018 –
page 298
63.14% "So he says that "know thyself" for the mind means that it should return to knowing that it is just that. A kind of purification from all sorts of things that we have attached to it."
December 22, 2018 –
page 333
70.55% "In this life we are traveling along like a road on our return journey.
(I like that : *return* journey)"
December 23, 2018 –
page 350
74.15% ""the man who gets what he wrongly desires is further away from the happy life than the man who does not get what he desires (...) For the man who rightly wants whatever he wants is near to being happy (...) He has already one good thing, not to be at all underrated, namely a good will... ""
December 30, 2018 –
page 364
77.12% "Now in book XIII he writes about how Jesus's death saved us from the bonds with which the devil kept us captive.
It answers some of the questions I had on the topic. (An angry God that needs to be appeased with blood seemed wrong, but how else to understand it? Augustin explains justice in this context in a way that makes sense to me. Basically just as in Narnia, a price paid to the evil one, who is then defeated)"
January 4, 2019 –
page 364
77.12% "Man also learns how far he has withdrawn from God, which is useful for him as a remedial pain, when he returns to him through a mediator like this, who comes to aid men as God with his divinity and to share with them as man in their infirmity."
January 6, 2019 –
page 373
79.03% "I wonder if there is a flaw in his reasoning here, for he speaks about eternal life as *after* the current life, but how can there be any speaking of before or after in eternity?"
January 13, 2019 –
page 414
January 13, 2019 –
page 428
90.68% "Hurrying on, to finish this before starting 'The city of God' next week with the church fathers group. Nearly finished, the text ends at page 444."
January 13, 2019 – Finished Reading
January 13, 2019 – Finished Reading

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