Augustine of Hippo Term Paper

Pages: 4 (1231 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 2  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Mythology - Religion

Augustine of Hippo

Brown, Peter. Augustine of Hippo. Revised Edition. Berkeley: University of California

Press, 2000.

Make me good God, but not yet.' According to Augustine, in his most famous work the Confessions, this was his cry before he experienced a direct revelation from God about God's truth and man's inherent sinfulness. No ancient philosopher was as open and honest about his own life, perhaps, as Augustine. Rather than receiving a picture of the chronology of his lives through the words and images of other, later authors, Augustine penned his own spiritual autobiography. He depicted himself, warts and all, and created the narrative of spiritual progress, from hell to heaven, that still characterizes conversion narrative 'plots' today.

The problem for an aspiring biographer like Peter Brown, when tackling the life this giant philosopher and espouser of Christianity of ancient world, is not the problem of the bias of others, or of a lack of detail about Augustine's own life. Rather, it is that Brown must contextualize Augustine's existence for a modern reader and also attempt to see past Augustine's own biases and agenda in framing his spiritual and personal development for a Christian readership. Also, as Augustine became a canonized saint, Brown must show the man, not the spiritual ideal that has passed into church lore and teaching. Thus the title of the autobiography is not St. Augustine, but merely Augustine of Hippo. Brown attempts to restore the humanity and the ancientness (or the difference) between Augustine and ourselves.Buy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
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Term Paper on Augustine of Hippo Assignment

Augustine is so compelling to modern readers not simply because we know so much of his life as well as his thoughts but because his concerns seem so germane to modern readers. We are, after all, self-obsessed and concerned with personal issues, rather than the minutiae of the nature of the Trinity, by and large, even devout Christians. And Augustine was, according to Brown the thinker of the Early Church most concerned about nature of human relationships with God on a personal level. Augustine regarded his own Confessions as an instruction to readers, and as an extension of the confessional that all Catholics take part of in the ritual of confessions of the church.

To be truly open and honest about the sinfulness of the self was to develop one's spirituality. Augustine's self-examination and his honesty about his early sinfulness, including stealing apples as a young boy and having a mistress makes him more, rather than less attractive to modernity. Thus Augustine called his Confessions a story of the soul or heart, not merely a chronology, and even Brown deviates from pure chronological development in his exposition and excavation of this figure. Brown's includes a variety of quotations of the Confessions while attempts to present the details of Augustine's life as a historical figure, not merely a saint and not merely through the lens of hindsight and Christian interpretation, as was characteristic of Augustine's self-configuring in his Confessions.

Instead of presenting Augustine's eventual career as a foregone conclusion, Brown situates the future saint's life in the contest of the late Roman Empire. Augustine's family was able give their son a good education. The region was noted for its legal education and producing great lawyers, and as a young man Augustine gained a distinguished reputation in the study of the law and rhetoric. Augustine was later to reject his early education, chastising himself for his love of pagan authors rather than Christian writings. At the time he found Christian writers less intellectually stimulating. Latin was Augustine's greatest passion, more so than Greek, particularly the works of great orators. But despite his secular education, Augustine loved his mother, Monica, a devout Christian who would later be canonized as… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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