Bible, Christ, and human beings: The theological unity of St. Augustine's "Confessions"

David Michael Schimpf, Marquette University


The thesis of the dissertation is that Augustine's understanding of the levels of human unity, one in sin in Adam and one in love in Christ, as derived from his reading of the Bible, in particular his reading of Paul, and from reflection on his experience through the perspective of his understanding of the Christian tradition, developed in his early works and portrayed in the Confessions, founded the theological and structural unity of the Confessions. The first chapter of the dissertation analyzes Augustine's use of the Scriptures in the works he wrote through the Confessions. It argues that Augustine's use and view of the Bible grew together. Augustine's theological explanations centered around his understanding of human unity, derived from his relatively novel reading of Paul: human beings were naturally one with Adam before he sinned, one in sin with Adam, and one in love with Christ. The second chapter focuses on Augustine's view of the Scriptures in these same works. The first two chapters argue that Augustine presented a consistent reading and use of the Scriptures by the time he was writing the Confessions, one founded on his reading of Paul. The third chapter examines the Confessions thematically. Augustine eventually discovered that the Scriptures spoke directly to and in his life, and in fact provided it with its ultimate interpretation. He also learned that the Scriptures were meant to affect the life of the reader, to bring the reader into the presence of the one, humble mediator between human beings and God, Jesus Christ. The fourth chapter analyzes the structural and theological unity of the Confessions by distinguishing five main sections of the work, each based on how it communicates aspects of Augustine's Pauline view of the levels of human unity and Augustine's use and understanding of his life in the context of the Scriptures. The entire work pointed toward book thirteen, with its integration of creation and redemption through the Word of God incarnate; of Christ and the faithful in the love of the church; and of Scripture, the ultimate holy authority, and the life of every human being.

Recommended Citation

Schimpf, David Michael, "Bible, Christ, and human beings: The theological unity of St. Augustine's "Confessions"" (1994). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. AAI9433788.