St. Augustine’s “Confessions”

Probably the best known book written by St. Augustine is his ‘Confessions’. He commented about them in 427 and these are the first two paragraphs of what he says about them. It is interesting to see him, in the second paragraph, refer to two references in the Confessions that he feels are not quite right!:

“My Confessions, in thirteen books, praise the righteous and good God, as they speak of my evil or good, and they are meant to excite men’s minds and affections toward him. At least as far as Iam concerned, this is what they did for me when they were being written and they still do this when read. What some people think of them is their own affair but I do know that they have given pleasure to many of my brethren and still do so. The first through the tenth books were written about myself, the other three about Holy Scripture, from what is written there, ‘In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth’ even as far as the reference to the sabbath rest.

In Book 4 when I confessed my soul’s misery over the death of a friend and said that our soul had somehow been made one out of two souls ‘But it may have been that I was afraid to die, lest he should then die wholly whom I had so greatly loved — this now seems to be more a trivial declaration than a serious confession although this inept expression may be tempered somewhat by the ‘may have been’ which I added. And in Book 13 when I said — The firmament was made between the higher waters (and superior) and the lower (and inferior) waters‘ was said without sufficient thought. In any case, the matter is very obscure.

This work begins thus, ‘Great art thou O Lord.!’