The Confessions | Study Guide

Saint Augustine

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The Confessions | Glossary


apologetics: (n) reasoned arguments or justifications for a religious doctrine, belief, or religion. Apologetics is also a branch of theology in Christianity that defends the divine origin of its doctrine and authority of its church.

baptism: (n) the first sacrament (ritual) of initiation in Catholicism, which incorporates a person into the body of Christ. Baptism removes both original sin and any sin committed in the past.

catechumen: (n) a person preparing for baptism and membership in the Catholic Church. In Augustine's time baptism was usually received well after infancy and sometimes very late in life.

chastity: (n) sexual purity according to one's state in life. For an unmarried person chastity implies abstinence from sexual intercourse.

continence: (n) the condition of conscious restraint of the senses. Continence usually refers to the decision to refrain from sexual intercourse or other sexual contact.

concupiscence: (n) extreme desire or lust. In Catholic thinking, concupiscence is the strong desire of "lower appetites" to fulfill themselves against reason. The lower appetites crave only sensual gratification, while a rational appetite has some logic and restraint.

Catholic: (n) a member of the Catholic Church. Members of a faith created by the followers of Jesus of Nazareth (originally referred to simply as Christians). By the 5th century, Roman Christians were calling themselves Catholics. Later, after the schism with the Eastern Orthodox Church, Catholics were referred to as Roman Catholics.

Catholic Church: (n) In Augustine's time, the communion of churches founded by the first apostles of Jesus of Nazareth and united in faith and obedience under the Bishop of Rome (the pope).

Christian: a member of a Christian church. In Augustine's time, there were Catholic Christians as well as Christians belonging to "heretical" sects, so named by the Catholic Church because they differed with Catholics on some aspects of doctrine. Today any church that identifies Jesus as its original founder is a Christian church, and its members are Christian.

Eucharist: (n) The central ritual in Catholicism, in which bread and wine is believed to literally become the body and blood of Jesus, by the power of Christ working through the priest. Those attending the ritual then consume the consecrated bread (and sometimes wine) that has been made sacred. The ritual commemorates the passion and death of Jesus. Eucharist may refer to both the ritual and the consecrated bread and wine.

exegesis: (n) interpretation of a text, especially a religious or spiritual text. Augustine learned a type of exegesis from Saint Ambrose.

Hebrew Bible: (n) the Jewish scriptures or the Old Testament; the sacred text of Judaism. The books of the Hebrew Bible were written over a long period of time by the elders and prophets of Judaism.

Jewish scriptures: (n) another name for the Hebrew Bible or the Old Testament.

martyr: (n) a person who endures suffering and death to remain faithful to a belief system. For adhering to their faith, the early Christian martyrs were tortured and killed by the Romans.

New Testament: (n) books of the Bible written by the early followers of Jesus. These include the Gospels, which are stories of Jesus's ministry, as well as the writings of subsequent followers who wrote about what Jesus's message meant.

Old Testament: Refers to the Hebrew or Jewish scriptures, written by elders and prophets of Judaism (the Israelites). The Old Testament (a Christian coinage) and the New Testament comprise the Christian Bible.

Paraclete: (n) a name for the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Trinity, meaning "consoler" and "advocate." This word is used by Jesus in the New Testament.

penance: (n) a conversion of the heart toward God and away from sin. External penance, usually done to repent sin in the Christian tradition, includes fasting, prayer, and giving charity to the poor.

presbyter: (n) a priest.

primate: (n) a senior bishop who has authority in a province, a group of provinces, or a nation.

rhetor: (n) a teacher of rhetoric. Augustine was a rhetor by profession.

rhetoric: (n) the art of crafting a persuasive, elegant argument, whereby a writer or speaker strives to inform, persuade, or motivate an audience. In Roman civilization, rhetoric was the most important subject a cultured man could learn.

sacrament: (n) An external ritual in Catholicism symbolizing the bestowal of God's grace. There are seven sacraments in Catholicism, although they did not all exist in Augustine's time. Baptism is one of the sacraments.

scripture: (n) sacred writing. In the Christian tradition, scripture includes both the Old Testament and New Testament.

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