I have been interested in conversion for a long time, so I am thrilled that Paraclete has now come out with an updated version of one of my all-time classics, the original Christian conversion story, Augustine’s Confessions.
No other than Tony Jones ( 🙂 ) wrote the Introduction. I should admit up front that I’m a huge fan of Augustine’s Confessions. I remember reading it the first time while a sophomore in college in a copy I ruined by writing waaaaaaay too many notes in. I’ve since read it through a few more times, even though I usually skip the last few chps. In this Paraclete edition we’ve got a splendid modernized translation (by Robert J. Edmondson).
Tony‘s Introduction: What could it possibly say? Here’s how it starts: “I think it has the makings of a great movie, a classic coming-of-age story…” Well, it does — what does? Augustine’s story. Tony tastefully then sums up Augustine’s life without recourse to the ever-present modern versions preoccupied with sex — even though that just might be what would make the book a movie. Monica… Ambrose of Milan … Augustine’s conversion story. Expressed in this translation in what he said to God: “You converted me!”
Which reminds me of an experience I had in college. I was graced with the opportunity, after my freshman year, to go to Austria with GEM. And even further graced when (now married) Kris and I got to go two years later. When we got there, we met up with someone I had met the first time, a young woman named Claudia. She said to me, “Du bist schuld daran dass ich glaeubig bin.” Roughly, “You are guilty that I’m a believer.” The title of this new edition of Augustine’s confessions reminds me of that experience for I stumbled out with something like “Nein,
Verkehrung Bekehrung ist ein Werk Gottes.” (“No, conversion is a work of God.”)
Tony elegantly and briefly leads us to read again the first 8 books of what is arguably the most influential book both of Western civilization (the first autobiography) and Western theology (with a lasting influence on the need for personal conversion; a profound, if overcooked at times, grappling with personal sin; and a marvelous doxological dialogue with God — I’m keen on reading this book yet again.). Thanks Tony. Thanks Paraclete.
This is the version college students can begin with. He provides some excellent pointers on how to read this treasure of the whole Church, and he has some nice short notes to help readers along.