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Confessions (Works of Saint Augustine: A Translation for the 21st Century) Hardcover – November 25, 1996
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From Library Journal
The latest volume in the series "Augustine for the Twenty-First Century," which will offer the first complete translation of all of Augustine's works into English, adds yet another vision of the Confessions to the many already available. The fourth-century bishop of Hippo in North Africa wrote this extended prayer, the first true autobiography, to confess his sins and God's goodness. It has been a standard of spiritual literature ever since. Boulding (Marked for Life, Abingdon, 1996), a Benedictine nun of Stanbrook Abbey, England, offers us a fine, smooth translation that is a pleasure to read. Hers is also the first English translation to use inclusive language. There is a complete index, which greatly enhances the usefulness of this particular volume. For all readers.?Augustine J. Curley, Newark Abbey, N.J.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
There is certainly no shortage of English translations of Augustine's Confessions; but given its undeniable place as a classic of Christian literature, there is perhaps room for one more. Boulding's translation brings Augustine's extended prayer to life with a sensitivity to his passion and poetry that should make the text more accessible to contemporary English readers. Boulding includes an introduction and a chronology that place Augustine in context and guide readers through the sometimes perplexing structure of the book. There is no doubt that Augustine continues to reach contemporary readers across the 16 centuries that separate them from his writing and its context. This new translation should contribute to the clarity with which that reach is extended. Steve Schroeder
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Top Customer Reviews
And if you’re in doubt, just read the first memoir ever written: St. Augustine’s Confessions.
Though first penned over a millennia and a half ago, Confessions is just as relevant today as it ever was. Augustine deals with the same issues and struggles we all do. And as I read, I was reminded again and again of how stable the human condition is.
This isn’t to say that Augustine’s story sounds like it could’ve happened in modern America. The cultural distance between North Africa in the fifth century and the Western world of the twenty-first century is great.
Augustine discusses philosophic and religious ideas that the average American won’t ever encounter (I mean, when was the last time you met a Manichee?). He has relationships and conversations that will sound peculiar to modern ears (when he and his dad are in a public bath and his dad notice he is...ahem...reaching puberty, he gets excited about potential grandchildren. Augustine is 16 at the time).
But so much of what Augustine writes mirrors our own lives.
Illegitimate children? Check.
Violent entertainment? Check.
Political maneuvering? Check.
So even though the form these things take may be foreign, the reality beneath is very modern. It’s because of this that I can say Confessions is the story of us all.
Who hasn’t struggled with the problem of evil? Or felt the sting of a broken relationship? Who hasn’t gone through life without grieving? Or rejoicing? Without searching for truth or meaning in life?
These are the things we read about in Augustine’s story. And as we read them there, we’re compelled to see our own journeys in light of his.
For example, as he reflects on one particular sin (stealing some pears from a neighbor’s tree), he delves into the reasons underlying his wrong doing. He digs deeper than I ever have:
“With regard to my theft, then: what did I love in it, and in what sense did I imitate my Lord, even if only with vicious perversity? ...Was I, in truth a prisoner, trying to simulate a crippled sort of freedom, attempting a shady parody of omnipotence by getting away with something forbidden?”
What a thought he has here! That we, in our sin, are fools “attempting a shady parody of omnipotence.” I can’t help but think about the sins that filled my own past. And when I think of them, I see exactly what Augustine is talking about. Every time I used my words to hurt rather than heal - every time I used others for my own advantage - what was I doing but stretching for godhood. Like a little boy who puts on his daddy’s tie and trots around the house with an empty briefcase, my sins were my way of saying “I’m a big boy. I can be just like Dad.”
“No one can tell me what to do,” I might’ve said. “Not even God.”
I was my own god.
But that’s how sin works. It’s the declaration of independence from a good, faithful, and gracious Father.
And so, as we read his Confessions, Augustine prompts us to look deeply into the well of our own hearts. Not simply to stare at ourselves like some modern Narcissus (or one of his off-spring). But in hope that God’s Spirit is stirring the waters.
Drawing us; purifying us; preparing us - all for Him.
Whether we realize it or not, this is what life is about: living into God’s call. Augustine’s prayer in the opening of his memoir couldn’t be truer: “You arouse us so that praising you may bring us joy, because you have made us and drawn us to yourself, and our heart is unquiet until it rests in you.”
Though I may not agree with all of Augustine’s theology (and I don’t), I can’t help but appreciate his journey. And - even more than that - the candor with which he recounts it. It’s a great reminder that even as the world around us changes, humanity remains largely the same. We love and fight, worship and politick. But whether we were born in the first century or the twenty-first century, we have the same problem (sin) and the same solution (Christ).
Reading Augustine’s Confessions will remind you of that fact and call you to reflect on your own journey.
May we continue down the well-worn path trodden by those who have gone before - including St. Augustine.
Oh, and Maria Boulding's translation is fantastic! I can't recommend it enough.
The first nine books give an account of Augustine's life. It is important however to read as well his philosophical thoughts on Memory, Time and Eternity, Heaven and Earth and Days of Creation. These make it very clear that he was not afraid of asking difficult questions. They show his ability to move between literal and allegorical modes. They also reveal how he faces his critics without attacking their dignity even though they may have attacked his.
Augustine's legendary wrestling with his sexual urges looks like small beer in this age of internet porn, but it is testimony to the effect of persistent mindfulness and reaching out which eventually place repetitively troubling and possibly compulsive behavior at a remove that allows for increasing freedom to choose.
This is a translation that merits more than one reading.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
One drawback is that the edition did not reflect the print size I previewed on Amazon.Read more
Sister Maria Boulding's superb translation flows like water with all its qualities: fluidity, clarity, and refreshment.Read more
say in all of their books the size of the font. It would certainly help!Read more