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Augustine's Confessions Paper

1346 words - 5 pages

When one reads the word "confessions," one would not necessarily associate it with the word "narrative." Confessions seem to be more of something stated directly without any story-like element. They are also a more personal thing- one does not simply put them in a story form unless purposely intending to do so, because usually it is something that expresses guilt for something personal or is between the author and their conscience (or perhaps to themselves). However, there can always be an exception, like Augustine's Confessions. It is written as a form of a narrative, even though the original the main audience for whom it was written is God, yet it is also intended to be read by anyone, almost as a didactic piece that sets an example through the portrayal of his life and his decisions. Augustine takes what he has experienced during his life and with details such as parallels to the bible turns it into a narrative that he writes with an intention of educating or perhaps setting an example for any reader.

​Augustine writes his confessions not as a list, but as one event that flows to another- like a narrative. At first glance, it appears to be as the title says- a book of confessions. However, it cannot solely be approached "as a penitential work, concerned with the confession of sins, which indeed it is, in some degree; but this is not Augustine's primary concern. (Bonner 164)." He means that it is not just a confession to God, that indeed God is the main audience, but not the only audience. Augustine even states this in the actual text: "I too, O Lord, also so confess unto Thee that men may hear, to whom I cannot prove whether I confess the truth, yet do they believe me whose ears charity openeth unto me (10.3.3)" and again with "This is the fruit of my confessions, not of what I was, but of what I am, that I may confess this not before Thee only." In these quotes the audience is defined as both God and everyone in general. So one intention is that the narrative be for anyone to read and go off of as an example or guide to their own morality. This is also logical because if he were writing his confessions solely for God, he would have no need to publish it or share it with anyone else, and saying that it is not for God only further supports this intention.

However, Augustine has another agenda- his confessions are also meant to show his praise and love for God. He says this in the fifth book with: "Accept the sacrifice of my confessions by the agency of my tongue, which Thou has formed and quickened, that it may confess to Thy name... But let my soul praise Thee, that it may love Thee; and let it confess Thine own mercies to Thee, that it may praise Thee." This is a clear declaration of his praise to God, and ​almost another underlying message of the text to the audience. So as he is writing about his life, he is trying also to set an example to the audience about how his choices were not always the best and use this as a guide to their...

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