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This book is about the communicative purpose and the audience of the Confessions. It illuminates the degree to which the communicative purpose of the work is to convert its readers, i.e. a protreptic purpose, and the degree to which the target audience may be identified as Augustine's potential Manichaean readers. A brief survey of possible literary antecedents points to the existence of other works that consist of the same combination of an autobiographical section (a conversion story) with a polemical and exegetical section (an argument that aims to convince the reader of the merits of a specific point of view) that characterizes the Confessions. The book provides a new perspective on the meaning and structure of Augustine's often misunderstood masterpiece.

Abstract

The article is an analysis of Confessions 3.6.10 to 3.10.18 to support an argument that many strategies in Augustine's masterpiece are eminently suited to communicate with a Manichaean audience and designed to convince such an audience of the errors of Manichaeism. In Book 3 the narrative reaches the stage of Augustine's life where he joins the Manichees. The description of the encounter presented here, however, is much more than the communication of information on this crucial stage in his spiritual journey. The passage is generally described as strongly anti-Manichaean, but I argue that the argumentative and emotional tone of the passage combined with the amount of space spent on a few core aspects of Manichaeism make the passage an effective protreptic directed at a specific category of 'Manichaean' readers.

In: Vigiliae Christianae
In: Vigiliae Christianae

Abstract

The most important point this article wants to make is that the expectations of the ancient reader, Augustine's contemporary, of a work like the Confessions may have been diametrically opposite to the expectations with which the work has been read for the past number of centuries. I contend that, even though they too would no doubt have recognized the novel and creative devices that characterize the work, ancient readers would not have been perplexed by the presence of the last four books of the Confessions. The whole issue surrounding the presence of these books is a problem created by the illegitimate assumptions later readers carried into their reading.

In: Vigiliae Christianae
In: Augustine's Confessions
In: Augustine's Confessions
In: Augustine's Confessions
In: Augustine's Confessions
In: Augustine's Confessions