Contemplation and Classical Christianity: A Study in by John Peter Kenney

By John Peter Kenney

After resolving to develop into a Catholic Christian, Augustine spent a decade attempting to make clear his knowing of "contemplation," the inner presence of God to the soul. That lengthy fight yielded his vintage account within the Confessions. This examine explores Augustine's constructing figuring out of contemplation, starting together with his earliest money owed written earlier than his baptism and finishing with the Confessions. bankruptcy One examines the pagan monotheism of the Roman Platonists and the function of contemplation of their theology. Augustine's pre-baptismal writings are then thought of in bankruptcy , monitoring his basic holiday from pagan Platonism. bankruptcy 3 then turns to Augustine's constructing figuring out of contemplation in those pre-baptismal texts. bankruptcy 4 concentrates on Augustine's concept throughout the decade after his baptism in 387, a interval that encompasses his monastic existence in Thagaste, and his years first as a presbyter after which as a bishop in Hippo Regius. This bankruptcy follows the arc of Augustine's idea via those years of transition and leads into the Confessions, giving a vantage element to survey its theology of contemplation. bankruptcy 5 concentrates at the Confessions and units its most famed account of contemplation, the imaginative and prescient at Ostia from e-book IX, right into a greater polemical context. Augustine's safety of his transcendental studying of scripture in Confessions XII is analyzed after which used to light up the Ostian ascent narrative. The e-book concludes with observations at the significance of Augustine's theology of contemplation to the emergence of Christian monotheism in past due antiquity.

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Another way to put this is that Augustine absorbed from Platonism what we earlier considered as first-stage transcendence: the postulation of an eternal intelligible world. But as the prayer addressed to God from the Soliloquia quoted above indicates, Augustine did not follow the Plotinian school in adopting its postulation of a divine One beyond being, a One beyond relationality and prayer. We might consider this matter, since it offers further clues to Augustine’s early thinking. 2; I am following the Corpus Christianorum Series Latin vol.

This revised version of pagan monotheism became dominant in the Platonic schools of late antiquity from the midfourth century onwards. 41 Yet it was not this later form of pagan Platonism Augustine read in 386, but rather some treatises from the Roman school of Plotinus. We shall turn now to see what Augustine made of those challenging books. 41 Bowersock 1978; Athanassiadi 1992. ”1 With these words addressed directly to God, Augustine commences the first extended invocation to be found in his writings.

Soul’s procession from the Intellect has an irreducibly self-assertive or irrational aspect to it. We harbor, in the very nature of our separateness, a desire for illegitimate distinctiveness born of our deepest, but most obscure, desires. At the core of our embodied nature is selfassertion, a demand for difference and independence. That desire fuels the soul’s descent from Intellect, driving the soul out of the stable life of eternity into the rude sequence of time, psychic dispersal, and embodied consciousness.

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