Contemplation and Classical Christianity: A Study in Augustine

Paperback | January 2, 2016

byJohn Peter Kenney

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After resolving to become a Catholic Christian, Augustine spent a decade trying to clarify his understanding of 'contemplation,' the interior presence of God to the soul. That long struggle yielded his classic account in the Confessions. This study explores Augustine's developingunderstanding of contemplation, beginning with his earliest accounts written before his baptism and ending with the Confessions. Chapter One examines the pagan monotheism of the Roman Platonists and the role of contemplation in their theology. Augustine's pre-baptismal writings are then consideredin Chapter Two, tracking his fundamental break from pagan Platonism. Chapter Three then turns to Augustine's developing understanding of contemplation in these pre-baptismal texts. Chapter Four concentrates on Augustine's thought during the decade after his baptism in 387, a period that encompasseshis monastic life in Thagaste, and his years first as a presbyter and then as a bishop in Hippo Regius. This chapter follows the arc of Augustine's thought through these years of transition and leads into the Confessions, giving a vantage point to survey its theology of contemplation. Chapter Fiveconcentrates on the Confessions and sets its most famous account of contemplation, the vision at Ostia from Book IX, into a larger polemical context. Augustine's defence of his transcendental reading of scripture in Confessions XII is analysed and then used to illuminate the Ostian ascent narrative.The book concludes with observations on the importance of Augustine's theology of contemplation to the emergence of Christian monotheism in late antiquity.

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After resolving to become a Catholic Christian, Augustine spent a decade trying to clarify his understanding of 'contemplation,' the interior presence of God to the soul. That long struggle yielded his classic account in the Confessions. This study explores Augustine's developingunderstanding of contemplation, beginning with his earli...

John Peter Kenney is a Professor of Religious Studies at Saint Michael's College in Vermont.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:208 pages, 8.5 × 5.43 × 0.45 inPublished:January 2, 2016Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198758820

ISBN - 13:9780198758822

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Table of Contents

Introduction1. Contemplation and Pagan Monotheism2. Transcendence and Christian Monotheism3. Contemplation at Cassiciacum4. Early Catholic Treatises5. Christian TranscendentalismConclusionBibliography

Editorial Reviews

"This superb, precise study by John Peter Kenney will stimulate you to rethink much of what you knew about Augustine and Platonism ... I strongly recommend it." --Miles Hollingworth, The Expository Times