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The Confessions | Section Summaries

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Section Summaries Chart

Section Summary
Book 1, Sections 1–16 The author begins with an opening prayer, addressing God and praising his power and wisdom. God draws human beings to hi... Read More
Book 1, Sections 17–31 Augustine notes that he was given instruction in Christian ideas as a child and "regularly signed with the cross" althou... Read More
Book 2, Sections 1–8 Augustine now seeks to give a "coherent account" of his "disintegrated self"; when he turned away from God he "went to p... Read More
Book 2, Sections 9–18 The next sections discuss at length his stealing of pears with his companions, which has more psychological weight in hi... Read More
Book 3, Sections 1–11 Upon arriving in Carthage at age 17, Augustine wishes to fall in love, not realizing that what he craves is God. Instead... Read More
Book 3, Sections 12–21 The Manichaeans make fun of Old Testament stories, criticizing the practices of polygamy (plural marriage) and animal sa... Read More
Book 4, Sections 1–16 By his own account Augustine continues with the Manichaeans from his 19th to his 28th year. He and his fellows were "sed... Read More
Book 4, Sections 17–31 Augustine moves on to praise the material world, which the Manichaeans disparage. He says, "If sensuous beauty delights ... Read More
Book 5, Sections 1–14 Book 5 opens with an invocation: "Accept the sacrifice of my confessions, offered to you by the power of this tongue ...... Read More
Book 5, Sections 14–25 Augustine has to lie to his mother, Monica, to leave Carthage. She follows him to the seashore, but he pretends he is wa... Read More
Book 6, Sections 1–17 Monica ends up following her son to Milan and is overjoyed to hear he has given up Manichaeism but is not surprised, sin... Read More
Book 6, Sections 18–26 Augustine now remembers how in his 19th year he was inspired to seek wisdom and how in his 30th year he is still caught ... Read More
Book 7, Sections 1–12 Book 7 picks up the thread of Augustine's dawning understanding of a transcendent God and his happiness that "our spirit... Read More
Book 7, Sections 13–27 In Section 13, Augustine finally reads some books by the Neoplatonists and finds they expound "precisely the same doctri... Read More
Book 8, Sections 1–14 Augustine has fallen in love with God and no longer wishes to pursue worldly ambitions. He seeks out Simplicianus to dis... Read More
Book 8, Sections 15–30 Augustine is further inspired by talking to Ponticianus, a court official, who tells him and Alypius about the famous mo... Read More
Book 9, Sections 1–22 Augustine begins Book 9 with more praise for God. Addressing Jesus, he says, "How sweet did it suddenly seem to me to sh... Read More
Book 9, Sections 23–37 Sections 23 through 26 describe the final vision in The Confessions. This is the vision at Ostia, shared by Augustine an... Read More
Book 10, Sections 1–12 Augustine opens Book 10 by analyzing his motives for confession. He confesses to God when he is bad because he is disgus... Read More
Book 10, Sections 13–36 Augustine points out that memory is not made of sense impressions but rather the images of what is perceived by the sens... Read More
Book 10, Sections 37–57 Augustine continues his train of thought and begins to think about where he first found God, not in "a place." He then l... Read More
Book 10, Sections 58–70 Augustine now turns to the sin of pride, which can occur when people are given positions of power and authority. This is... Read More
Book 11, Sections 1–13 Book 11 is an extended discourse on time, in which Augustine begins to introduce his exegesis (interpretation) of the fi... Read More
Book 11, Sections 14–28 Augustine then asks a hackneyed question: "What was God doing before he made heaven and earth?" In developing an answer ... Read More
Book 11, Sections 29–41 Augustine refutes the idea that the movements of the sun, moon, and stars constitute time. In that case, the movement of... Read More
Book 12, Sections 1–15 Augustine now turns to the parts in Genesis that talk about formless matter (darkness over the abyss). He first distingu... Read More
Book 12, Sections 16–43 Augustine now acknowledges that some people may disagree with his explanation of the creation of heaven's heaven and ear... Read More
Book 13, Sections 1–15 Augustine now turns to the question of why God created at all, and his answer is that God did so because of his "abundan... Read More
Book 13, Sections 16–37 Augustine moves to the second day of creation and finds that the vault of heaven (earth's heaven) is none other than div... Read More
Book 13, Sections 38–53 The food provided by God is next considered by Augustine; these "fruits of the earth" symbolize "works of mercy produced... Read More
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