The Confessions of St. Au­gus­tine

Foreword Reviews - - Spotlight Reviews Audiobooks - KRIS­TEN RABE

Saint Au­gus­tine , Naxos Au­dio Books 978-1-78198-036-1, Au­dio­book $89.99 (15 hrs)

In Naxos’s new au­dio record­ing of The Confessions of Saint Au­gus­tine, Bri­tish ac­tor Mark Mead­ows of­fers a com­pelling, earnest in­ter­pre­ta­tion of one of the most in­flu­en­tial works in Chris­tian the­ol­ogy and Western lit­er­a­ture.

Mead­ows’s de­liv­ery is mea­sured and im­pas­sioned, and for­wards an en­gross­ing sense of ur­gency. St. Au­gus­tine’s Confessions was writ­ten to be read aloud, and this record­ing makes it clear how in­volv­ing and im­mer­sive it is to lis­ten to Au­gus­tine’s time­less words.

Born in Hippo in North Africa in 354 CE, Au­gus­tine lived dur­ing a crit­i­cal junc­ture in the his­tory of Chris­tian­ity. With a bril­liant mind and ac­cess to the lead­ing thinkers of the day, Au­gus­tine wres­tled with sev­eral con­flict­ing world­views in the early years of his life.

His nar­ra­tion re­calls how he was raised a Chris­tian be­fore be­com­ing at­tracted to Manichaeism in his teens; he also ex­plored the neo-pla­tonic philoso­phies of Plot­i­nus be­fore re­turn­ing to Chris­tian­ity in his thir­ties. He wrote Confessions a decade later; in it, he re­flects on the sin­ful and lust­ful choices he made dur­ing the early decades of his life. He also de­tails his in­ter­nal strug­gles with key tenets of Chris­tian thought, from the na­tures of evil, beauty, and time to the ex­pe­ri­ence of orig­i­nal sin, grace, and re­demp­tion.

Draw­ing from R. S. Pine-cof­fin’s re­spected 1961 trans­la­tion, Mead­ows an­i­mates The Confessions with an ac­ces­si­ble and con­tem­po­rary ca­dence. Au­gus­tine’s words sound as rel­e­vant and in­volv­ing to­day as they were nearly 1700 years ago. The nearly fif­teen hours of record­ing are log­i­cally di­vided into ten-minute seg­ments that are clearly ti­tled and easy to nav­i­gate.

In an era when we are del­uged with in­for­ma­tion and of­ten too ea­ger to rush to judg­ment, Au­gus­tine’s Confessions of­fers a re­fresh­ing, en­gross­ing con­tem­pla­tion of the deeper ques­tions around hu­man na­ture. Mead­ows’s clear, con­ver­sa­tional ex­plo­ration in­cludes care­ful pauses that al­low for re­flec­tion, pro­vid­ing an op­por­tu­nity to in­ter­nal­ize and wres­tle with the sin­cere and bril­liant ques­tions raised in this classic work.

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