The "Lives of Great Religious Books" is a "series of short volumes that recount the complex and fascinating histories of important religious texts from around the world" dust jacket. The volumes pair leading experts with classic texts and are written for a general audience. Garry Wills, a Pulitzer Prize-winner for his book on Abraham Lincoln, is a classics professor from Northwestern University who has written forty books, including five previous volumes on Augustine. Wills begins with book production in late antiquity. Augustine would have dictated to scribes, who used reed pens to write on long scrolls.
This was an expensive, labor intensive and time-consuming production process, but no obstacle for Augustine to write five million words in his lifetime. He wrote his Confessions in the year at the age of forty-three, ten years after his baptism by Ambrose. Following Wills's biography of Augustine and his translation of the "Confessions," this is an unparalleled introduction to one of the most important books in the Christian and Western traditions. Understandably fascinated by the story of Augustine's life, modern readers have largely succumbed to the temptation to read the "Confessions" as autobiography.
But, Wills argues, this is a mistake. The book is not autobiography but rather a long prayer, suffused with the language of Scripture and addressed to God, not man. Augustine tells the story of his life not for its own significance but in order to discern how, as a drama of sin and salvation leading to God, it fits into sacred history.
With unmatched clarity and skill, Wills strips away the centuries of misunderstanding that have accumulated around Augustine's spiritual classic.
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Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Jul 22, Scott rated it liked it.
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Pretty fascinating to see how Wills interprets certain aspects of the Confessions that are overlooked by modern eyes. That being the case, there are lots of fascinating nuggets that make this worth the read. May 05, Jon rated it it was amazing. If this book were placed between two covers with Wills' full translation of the Confessions, together they would comprise the best thing on Augustine since Peter Brown's biography of nearly 50 years ago. Clear, detailed, readable, well-argued and plausible. Exactly what was missing from Wills' bare-bones Penguin translation.
An enormous help in trying to understand what is now a fairly remote and difficult book. Jul 19, Kevin rated it liked it Shelves: biography , religion. Not a biography in the normal sense, but rather a portion of one man's life as he seeks to discover "the truth".
Augustine's work is written 10 years after his baptism in AD and in it, Augustine retells how he came to know God in the years leading up to his baptism. A very "deep" and philosophical work that was addressed to God, but includes introspective questions a reader in the twenty-first century can use to examine oneself and his or her beliefs. Wills' translation is very readable. The Not a biography in the normal sense, but rather a portion of one man's life as he seeks to discover "the truth".
The one drawback I wish he had addressed was to include the actual Biblical references to which Augustine refers. Wills takes the time to denote a quote from the Bible with single quotations marks but makes no inclusion of where to find the quote - not necessarily a difficult task to find a quote's location in the Bible given the advent of the internet, but with so many quotes one could spend an incredible amount of time trying to locate all the references if one wished to do so. Aug 15, Paul Heidebrecht rated it it was amazing. By far, best commentary on Augustine's Confessions you will find.
Wills has a knack for finding the real Augustine and showing us why we are all in debt to the Bishop of Hippo. I like to point out that the first and maybe most influential theologian of the Church was North African.
So fitting that the African Church is once again moving into leadership of the Church worldwide. Mar 10, Jon Balserak rated it it was amazing. What a superb book - Wills analyzes the Confessions with care and insight. He is an extremely clear writer and one who is not afraid of setting out potentially provocative lines of inquiry. A thoroughly stimulating read!
Dec 31, Bryan rated it really liked it. Garry Wills' set of books on Augustine's Confessions are better than this book. Even so, there is different material in this book. Wills' insights into Augustine are always of interest. The Rule of Law Romance of the Rose Scotus on Ethics Roger Bacon Dutilh Novaes on Logic Just War Theory Speer Medieval Aesthetics Scotus on Universals Burnett on Magic Albert on Nature MacDonald on Aquinas Henry of Ghent Pini on Scotus. Fourteenth Century Introduction to 14th c. Ockham on Mental Language Green on Medicine German Dominicans Jean Gerson Pink on the Will Brower-Toland on Ockham John Buridan Angels John Wyclif Marguerite Porete Responses to Ockham Zupko on Buridan Scholasticism in Europe Dante Alighieri Foreknowledge Autrecourt's Skepticism English Mysticism Ramon Llull and Petrarch Church and State Perler on Skepticism Chaucer and Langland Pasnau on Substance Marsilius of Padua Uckelman on Obligations Medieval Economic Theory Gender and Sexuality a.
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