Confessions

Language and the Path to Conversion College

In St. Augustine’s Confessions, language was necessary on Augustine’s path to conversion, but also caused him to deviate from the same path. By being able to speak and read, Augustine first learned about God, while his final conversion in the garden at Milan involved hearing a child chanting and reading a passage from the Bible. On his path to God, however, language presented a trap for Augustine, when early on, he was unable to look past the physical words in the Bible that were merely representational of God. This brings up the issue of how language can be both helpful and harmful when one is trying to understand God. Language is necessary on the path to conversion, but the use of external words must be combined with internal perception through self-discovery in order to overcome the obstacles that language presents.

Language was a necessary factor in Augustine’s path to conversion. Through language, Augustine was able to enter into “the stormy society of human life” (Augustine 11) and learn about God from other humans and books. Learning how to speak allowed him to interact with humans and develop faith by following the examples of those around him. As a young boy, Augustine was already a believer of God, like his mother and...

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