Notes – Early Medieval Ages 5

Notes 5
Why study the Confessions?
Christianity had a great impact on Roman Empire late fourth and fifth century
3 problems

1. Problem of evil

2. Relation between body and soul

3. Understanding of sin and redemption 
All of these are dealt with thoroughly in Augustine’s work
More thorough than any other

Ancient thinker
Philosophical and Psychological investigation
Men go out and gaze at astonishment at high mountains… But they pay no attention to themselves

An examination of the author’s heart – intellectual and emotional 
Reads dialogue by Cicero hortensius

Convinces him life of mind most important
About a search for truth

That takes a lot of wrong turns

A confession of sin

About spiritual yearning
An intellectual and a passionate person

Not apposed to desire

Love is a psychological need

I was in love with the idea of love

Both sexual and spiritual

Also a believer in friendship
He is ambitious 

Ability to write


At that time the course of success

Was government service

Rhetoric and law

Rhetoric is the art of persuasion

Writing well and elegantly

Highly valued in Roman Empire
Mother is extremely pious
Augustine’s mother is a saint now

Wants him to be a success which means delaying baptism

Involvement in government service

Which involves dealing with sin,

Wrangling, parties, honours,

Sexual conquests
Gives it up when converts 
What bothers Augustine?
Problem of evil

Why does a good God allow bad things to happen
Compared to the works of the Greek writers and philosophers the Bible seems awfully crude

Rhetorically in terms of style

And conceptually in terms of ideas
The Old Testament God seems temperamental
The flood

Kills man touches the ark

Walking in garden

Talks to people 
Likes Manichaeanism

Two gods one bad
Christian belief

There will be bodies as well as spirit in resurrection

Evil is the absence of something Good

It is the absence of being and meaning

Turning away from the good is the human problem
People of cave

Chained looking at back of cave 

Seeing images of what is outside 

Forget chained

Think this is the real thing

If you tried to liberate them

Persecute you, don’t want to change
Key differences

Platonism assigns evil to ignorance

Christianity to sin
Why steal pears?


Not hungry, not desire 

It’s gratuitous – not from need
Platonists don’t have a good idea of why this happens as not to do with ignorance.
If human beings are sinful and education not going to help,

What will? 
The nature of sin is the pears

The way out of it is the conversion

At least in part
After his conversion Augustine’s plan was to lead a life of contemplation with his friends
Leisure with dignity
He did not follow through with it
Went back to North Africa

Became bishop

Defended doctrine against heretics

Died defending his city of

Hippo from the Vandals
Writes City of God when Rome falls in 410 to Vandals
You cannot live a life of perfection
Becomes more and more against doctrine of perfectionism
Cannot in any way earn salvation
Some saved by grace
Visible elect – know who’s going to heaven

Small community seeking salvation

Everyone outside doomed
Invisible – then everybody ought to be in the church

Ought to be roping in every one you can

Augustine believes in forced conversion

With baptism

Doesn’t mean perfection

Means entering the process
Key points

Opposition to perfectionism

Exaltation of grace

Sin as indelible