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Home > Fathers of the Church > The Confessions

The Confessions

BOOK 1 Commencing with the invocation of God, Augustine relates in detail the beginning of his life, his infancy and boyhood, up to his fifteenth year; at which age he acknowledges that he was more inclined to all youthful pleasures and vices than to the study of letters.

BOOK 2 He advances to puberty, and indeed to the early part of the sixteenth year of his age, in which, having abandoned his studies, he indulged in lustful pleasures, and, with his companions, committed theft.

BOOK 3 Of the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth years of his age, passed at Carthage, when, having completed his course of studies, he is caught in the snares of a licentious passion, and falls into the errors of the Manichaeans.

BOOK 4 Then follows a period of nine years from the nineteenth year of his age, during which having lost a friend, he followed the Manichaeans -- and wrote books on the fair and fit, and published a work on the liberal arts, and the categories of Aristotle.

BOOK 5 He describes the twenty-ninth year of his age, in which, having discovered the fallacies of the Manichaeans, he professed rhetoric at Rome and Milan. Having heard Ambrose, he begins to come to himself.

BOOK 6 Attaining his thirtieth year, he, under the admonition of the discourses of Ambrose, discovered more and more the truth of the Catholic doctrine, and deliberates as to the better regulation of his life.

BOOK 7 He recalls the beginning of his youth, i.e. the thirty-first year of his age, in which very grave errors as to the nature of God and the origin of evil being distinguished, and the sacred books more accurately known, he at length arrives at a clear knowledge of God, not yet rightly apprehending Jesus Christ.

BOOK 8 He finally describes the thirty-second year of his age, the most memorable of his whole life, in which, being instructed by Simplicianus concerning the conversion of others, and the manner of acting, he is, after a severe struggle, renewed in his whole mind, and is converted unto God.

BOOK 9 He speaks of his design of forsaking the profession of rhetoric; of the death of his friends, Nebridius and Verecundus; of having received baptism in the thirty-third year of his age; and of the virtues and death of his mother, Monica.

BOOK 10 Having manifested what he was and what he is, he shows the great fruit of his confession; and being about to examine by what method God and the happy life may be found, he enlarges on the nature and power of memory. Then he examines his own acts, thoughts and affections, viewed under the threefold division of temptation; and commemorates the Lord, the one mediator of God and men.

BOOK 11 The design of his confessions being declared, he seeks from God the knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, and begins to expound the words of Genesis 1:1, concerning the creation of the world. The questions of rash disputers being refuted, "what did God before he created the world?" that he might the better overcome his opponents, he adds a copious disquisition concerning time.

BOOK 12 He continues his explanation of the first chapter of Genesis according to the Septuagint, and by its assistance he argues, especially, concerning the double Heaven, and the formless matter out of which the whole world may have been created; afterwards of the interpretations of others not disallowed, and sets forth at great length the sense of the Holy Scripture.

BOOK 13 Of the goodness of God explained in the creation of things, and of the Trinity as found in the first words of Genesis. The story concerning the origin of the world (Genesis 1) is allegorically explained, and he applies it to those things which God works for sanctified and blessed man. Finally, he makes an end of this work, having implored eternal rest from God.

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Source. Translated by J.G. Pilkington. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, Vol. 1. Edited by Philip Schaff. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1887.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1101.htm>.

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