Credit Hours: 3
Time and Location: Thursdays 9:35AM - 12:05PM; CALD 451
Instructor contact information:
Tarmo Toom, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Patristic Theology
Caldwell 434; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Office Hours: Tuesday, 5.00PM-6.00PM
This course is on one of the most influential writings of Augustine. The Confessions is Augustine’s spiritual, intellectual, and moral autobiography. In fact, it is more than an autobiography—it is a protreptic, a text that attempts to convert. It is a theologian’s assessment of the wonderful activity of God’s grace in his life—sophisticated, polemical, and full of many meanings. One can say that Confessions is the history of the schooling of the author’s heart in the love of God, which is presented simultaneously as a narrative, theological reflection, meditation, and prayer. Augustine tells his story in the form of conversions to the quest of wisdom (Cicero), Manicheism, skepticism, neoplatonic philosophy, and catholic Christianity. The account of his conversions is an interesting mix of neoplatonic, biblical, and personal themes. The soul’s turning away from the Good and finding its way back to the Source through trials is fused with the story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15) and with Augustine’s own wandering away from his mother’s faith and return to God the Father.
Augustine Confessions, in Oxford World’s Classics, trans. H. Chadwick. Oxford: Oxford
University Press, 1998 (reprint).
Possidius, Vita Augustini (The Western Fathers, trans. and ed. F. R. Hoare [London:
Sheed and Ward], 1980, 191-244). [Blackboard]
Latin Texts of the Confessions:
O’Donnell, J. J. (ed.), Augustine: Confessions, vol. 1. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992. [http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/jod/latinconf/latinconf.html] or [http://www.thelatinlibrary.com/august.html]
Cooper, R. H. et al. (eds.) Concordantia in libros XIII confessionum S. Aurelii Augustini,
2 vols. Hildesheim, Germany: Olms/Weidmann, 1991.
Goals for Student Learning:
Students are expected to know Augustine life, his intellectual development, and the themes that he considers in his Confessions.
Course Requirements and Assessment:
Class participation/discussions (20% of the grade)
Final exam (each 30% of the grade)
A 6-page essay (20% of the grade) on your aversio and conversio written in imitation of Augustine’s Confessions (i.e., as a prayer to God).
Research paper (30% of the grade) on one of the following topics:
Augustine on gratia
Augustine on peccatum originale
Augustine on caritas
Augustine on voluntas
The paper should be no less than 10 pages and no more than 11 pages, point 12, double-space, formatted according to Turabian, A Manual for Writers, 7th ed., 2007 (I mean this!), with a correctly formatted cover-page, footnotes, and bibliography.
As a Research Paper, it is supposed to demonstrate your skill in finding good and relevant books/articles (at least seven, dictionary articles will not count), and to show that you know the current research developments in the particular area.
Have a thesis! And please make a case for your thesis!
Tardiness in submitting the paper will result in a lower grade (A ® B, etc.).
The University grading system for graduates is available at http://policies.cua.edu/academicgrad//gradesfull.cfm#iii
Reports of grades in courses are available at the end of each term on http://cardinalstation.cua.edu
Expectations and policies:
Academic honesty is expected of all CUA students.
Attendance: more than two excused absences result in a lower class participation grade
Policy on Making Up: in the case of an excused absence, students can take their final exam on a time negotiated with the instructor.
Course Outline and Readings: Jan. 15: Introductory lecture. The occasion and genre of the Confessions.
Jan 22: Possidius, Vita Augustini (Backboard); Introduction (by Chadwick); the structure of the Confessions; Augustine’s life and conversions; the significance of Augustine
Jan. 29: Book I: pride; the notion of “rest”; grace and faith; the spiritual nature of God; the notion of self; original sin; origin and the return of the soul
Feb. 5: BookII: aversio;lust; concupiscence
Feb. 12: BookIII: loving the wrong things; wisdom and happiness; Manicheism
Feb. 19: BookIV: “ordering” the love; eternal happiness; use and enjoyment
Feb. 26: BookV: disillusionment with Manicheism; academic skepticism; Ambrose
March 5: No class. Spring recess.
March 12: BookVI: spiritual interpretation; usefulness of belief; friendship
March 19: BookVIIa: Neoplatonism; spiritual and intelligible reality
April 2: BookVIII: the writings of Paul; will, habit, and love, conversion to catholic Christianity; continence. The 6-page papers due
April 9: No class. Holy Thursday
April 16: BookIX: Monnica; ascent of the soul; Cassiciacum.
April 23: BookX: memory; illumination.
April 30: BooksXI-XIII: Genesis, time.
May 5-9: Final and the 10-pageresearchpaper due!
Bibliography: For comprehensive bibliography in Literaturdatenbank, see: Corpus Augustinianum Giessene CD-ROM accompanying Augustinus-Lexikon or [http://www.augustinus.konkordanz.de/]. The Confessions:
Brachtendorf, J. Augustins “Confessiones.” Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 2005.
Burton, P. Language in the Confessions of Augustine. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007.
Capps, D. and Dittes, J. E. (eds.), The Hunger of the Heart: Reflections on the “Confessions” of Augustine.
In Society for the Scientific Study of Religion Monograph Series 8. West Lafayette, Ind.: Society of Scientific Study of Religion Press, 1990.
Caputo, J. D. and Scanlon, M. J. (eds.), Augustine and Postmodernism: Confessions And Circumfession. In
Indiana Series in the Philosophy of Religion. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2005.
Clark, G. Augustine: The Confessions. In Landmarks of World Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1993.
Courcelle, P. Recherches sur les Confessions de saint Augustin, expanded ed. Paris: E. de Boccard, 1968.
Desch, W. Augustins Confessiones: Beobachtungen zu Motivbestand und Gedankenbewegung. Frankfurt:
Peter Lang, 1988.
Dixon, S. L. Augustine: The Scattered and Gathered Self. St. Louis: Chalice, 1999.
Drecoll, V. H. Die Entstehung der Gnadenlehre Augustins. Beiträge zur Historischen Theologie 109.
Tübingen: Mohn Siebeck,1999.
Fisher, N. and Mayer, C. (eds.), Die Confessiones des Augustinus von Hippo: Einführung und
Interpretationen zu den dreizehn Bühcher. Frieburg: Herder, 1998.
Hockenbery. J. Redeeming Philosophy: Philosophy in Augustine’s ‘Confessions.’ Unpublished Ph.D.
dissertation. Boston University, 1998.
Kenney, J. P. The Mysticism of Saint Augustine: Rereading the Confessions. London: Routledge, 2005.
Kotzé, A. Augustine’s Confessions: Communicative Purpose and Audience. Supplementsto Vigiliae
Christianae, vol. 71. Leiden: Brill, 2004.
Mallard, W. Language and Love: Introducing Augustine’s Religious Thought Through the Confessions
Story. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1994.
Mann, W. E. (ed.), Augustine’s Confessions: Critical Essays. New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2006.
Marion, J.-L. Au lieu de soi : l'approche de saint Augustin. Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 2008.