Confessions Glossary


Making voluntary contributions to aid the poor.


The practice or belief in a life spent in pursuit of contemplative ideals. An austerely simple life; denying oneself the normal pleasures of life or material satisfaction.


The husks of grains and grasses that are separated during threshing; worthless matter; refuse.


Virtuous in sexual matters; refraining from sexual intercourse. In marriage, remaining faithful. In an unmarried state, virginity.


Sexual desire; lust. Augustine also uses it to describe fornication and a lustful life.


As Augustine uses it in Book V, a proposition that follows with little or no proof required from one already proven.


Two individuals or units regarded as a pair. Example: the mother-daughter dyad.


Characterized by great knowledge; learned; scholarly.


The Christian practice of reenacting the Last Supper of Jesus, wherein bread and sometimes wine are consecrated and consumed. They are said to become the body and blood of Christ (in modern Catholic practice and in the Christian practice of Augustine's day). A profoundly important sacrament to Augustine.


Critical explanation or interpretation of a text or portion of a text, especially of the Bible. For Augustine, it often means making sense, or drawing deep and sometimes obscure conclusions from difficult or unclear Biblical texts.


Philosophical term, the plural for genus, meaning kinds, sorts, or classes of ideas or entities.


Nonmaterial. Pertaining to spiritual things.


The dualistic religious system of Mani, who was a Mesopotamian Gnostic of the third century. It is a combination of Gnostic Christianity, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, and various other elements, with a basic doctrine of a conflict between light and dark, matter being regarded as dark and evil. Augustine was an adherent for a time.


A kind of philosophy that concerns itself with first principles. The nature of being (ontology), the nature of the universe (cosmology), and often the nature of knowledge (epistemology). Metaphysics can apply to any kind of philosophy that considers the origins of humanity, thought, God, and the universe.


Any basic metaphysical entity, especially having an autonomous life. A single unit or entity.


A philosophical system originated in the 3rd century A.D. by Plotinus, founded chiefly on Platonic doctrine and Oriental mysticism, with later influences from Christianity. It holds that all existence consists of emanations from the One, with whom the soul may be reunited.


The offering to God of the elements of bread and wine in the Eucharist.


A branch of metaphysics that deals specifically with being or existence. Often, but not always, part of theology and the existence of God. Ontology can also discuss being of objects, time, space, and states of being, such as in the Neo-

Platonism that Augustine studied.


A lofty oration or writing in praise of a person or thing; a eulogy. In Augustine's day they were regularly given for the Emperor.


Term for the Holy Spirit; the Comforter. Also, to Augustine, the Spirit of Truth.


In the Roman Empire, an official, usually a former consul, who acted as governor or military commander of a province


A book comprising only the Psalms of the Biblical Old Testament.


A master or teacher of rhetoric; an orator.


The study of the effective use of language and the ability to use language effectively. The art of making persuasive speeches; oratory. In classical oratory, the art of influencing the thought and conduct of an audience.


The state of living or being within earthly time; humanity is temporal, God is eternal.


The branch of theology that defends God's goodness and justice in the face of the existence of evil.