Encounters with God in Augustine's Confessions

Books VII-IX

By Carl G. Vaught

Subjects: Theology, Philosophy, Medieval Studies
Paperback : 9780791461082, 187 pages, January 2007
Hardcover : 9780791461075, 187 pages, July 2004

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents




The Framework of the Enterprise
Unity and Separation in Augustine's Thinking
Speaking and Hearing as Primordial Phenomena
Problems of Access to the Text


1. The Philosophical Conversion (Book VII)


The Concept of God (7.1.1–7.2.3)
The Problem of Evil (7.3.4–7.8.12)
Neoplatonism and Christianity (7.9.13–7.9.15)
The Neoplatonic Vision (7.10.16–7.17.23)
The Need for a Mediator (7.18.24–7.21.27)


2. Augustine's Christian Conversion (Book VIII)


Initial Hesitation (8.1.1–8.1.2)
The Conversion of Victorinus (8.2.3–8.4.9)
The Bondage of the Will (8.5.10–8.5.12)
Stages of Liberation (8.6.13–8.11.27)
The Decisive Moment (8.12.28–8.12.29)
The Christian Community (8.12.30)


3. Mother and Son: A Shared Mystical Experience (Book IX)


Retirement and Baptism (9.1.1–9.7.16)
Monica's Character (9.8.17–9.9.22)
The Garden in Ostia (9.10.23–9.10.26)
The Death of Augustine's Mother (9.11.27–9.13.37)





This reappraisal of the middle section of Augustine's Confessions covers the period of Augustine's conversion to Christianity. The author argues against the prevailing Neoplatonic interpretation of Augustine.


This book continues Carl G. Vaught's thoroughgoing reinterpretation of Augustine's Confessions—one that rejects the view that Augustine is simply a Neoplatonist and argues that he is also a definitively Christian thinker. As a companion volume to the earlier Journey toward God in Augustine's Confessions: Books I–VI, it can be read in sequence with or independently of it. This work covers the middle portion of the Confessions, Books VII–IX. Opening in Augustine's youthful maturity, Books VII–IX focus on the three pivotal experiences that transform his life: the Neoplatonic vision that causes him to abandon materialism; his conversion to Christianity that leads him beyond Neoplatonism to a Christian attitude toward the world and his place in it; and the mystical experience he shares with his mother a few days before her death, which points to the importance of the Christian community. Vaught argues that time, space, and eternity intersect to provide a framework in which these three experiences occur and which give Augustine a three-fold access to God.

Carl G. Vaught is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Baylor University. He is the editor and author of several books, including The Journey toward God in Augustine's Confessions: Books I–VI, published by SUNY Press.