Week 5.1 - St. Augustine's Confessions

Week 5.1 - St. Augustine's Confessions - Week 5: St....

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Week 5: St. Augustine’s Conversion in Confessions Here's some help on Confessions and our Augustine paper. This is difficult reading, so if you have questions make sure to ask about them. The material below covers both the reading and specific issues for the paper, and I think it has the help and the background information you’ll need. Use the material on pages 16-21 of the XP. Some examples of Augustine’ stages of conversion are: A. Reading Cicero's Hortensius (written in 373 AD) and falling in love with philosophy, deciding to be a philosopher, and determining to look for a divine wisdom which would satisfy his desire and expectation that God is the ultimate wisdom and truth. Augustine wants to find out who God is , what God is like , which God made the universe , and how he can bond with God in a perfect unity . Falling in love with wisdom changes Augustine's ambitions and goals for life. He changes his desire for worldly success as an orator and teacher of rhetoric; he gains a new purpose, new ideals, and a new lifestyle. He becomes a lover of wisdom (a philosopher) and renounces worldly success. B. Augustine becomes a Manichaean 'hearer' (373 AD)—interested and curious, but not a full member; he investigates the teachings of this gnostic Christian heresy. Manichaeans claimed that they had the ultimate truth, and they spoke eloquently (especially Faustus, the Manichaean bishop). They were celibate, ate no meat, and very ascetic—this was a sign of their "wisdom" (self-discipline; mastery over the body). Manichaeanism was a gnostic Christian heresy; the teaching of the “prophet” Mani, a Persian influenced by Zoroastrianism (extreme dualism). Like Zoroastrians, Manichaeans viewed the universe as torn apart in a cosmic war between Forces of Good (light, spirit, & heaven) and Forces of Evil (darkness, matter, & the material world). Evil in the world was the result of evil forces acting upon people—so there was a denial of human free will here. Most humans were seen as mired in flesh and darkness in an evil material world created by an evil Creator, God. (Manichaeans rejected the Old Testament and its teachings.) They believed most humans had no hope of salvation. They believed that an elite inner circle of Manichaeans—electi (the chosen ones)—with special secret knowledge (gnosis) would be saved. All forms of Gnosticism featured the idea that salvation depended on having a special, secret knowledge not available to most people. The elite were allied with the heavenly forces of good and light, and they alone had the secret knowledge for salvation, which included knowledge of the location of the particles of light (goodness). These light particles belonged to the divine realm of heaven, and they had been stolen by the evil dark forces. They were trapped in the material world where darkness and evil presided. The good particles of light were trapped mostly in fruits and vegetables (not in meat products, which were flesh). Melons and cucumbers were supposed to have particularly high light particle content. So
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This note was uploaded on 04/10/2008 for the course HIST 111 taught by Professor Rutenburg during the Fall '05 term at Maryland.

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Week 5.1 - St. Augustine's Confessions - Week 5: St....

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