Confessions

Purpose

Confessions was not only meant to encourage conversion, but it offered guidelines for how to convert. Augustine extrapolates from his own experiences to fit others' journeys. Augustine recognizes that God has always protected and guided him. This is reflected in the structure of the work. Augustine begins each book within Confessions with a prayer to God. For example both books VIII and IX begin with "you have broken the chains that bound me; I will sacrifice in your honour."[4] Not only is this glorifying God but it also suggests God’s help in Augustine’s path to redemption.

Written after the legalization of Christianity, Confessions dated from an era where martyrdom was no longer a threat to most Christians as was the case two centuries earlier. Instead, a Christian’s struggles were largely internal. Augustine clearly presents his struggle with worldly desires, such as lust. Augustine’s conversion was quickly followed by his ordination as a priest in 391 AD and then appointment as bishop in 395 AD. Such rapid ascension certainly raised criticism of Augustine. Confessions was written between 397-398, suggesting self-justification as a possible motivation for the work. With the words "I wish to act in truth, making my confession both in my heart before you and in this book before the many who will read it" in Book X Chapter 1, Augustine appears to defend his position by admitting his imperfections not only to his critics but to God, in a form of reconciliation.[5]


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