Wednesday, 20 April 2011

In case you were wondering...

...I'm still planning to blog through the remaining chapters of Confessions.

But that will be no easy thing. If and when I manage it I might begin a similar exercise on a work that Augustine wrote around the same stage in his life, On Christian Teaching.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Karl Barth on the Vision at Ostia

In Book IX Augustine writes movingly about the last few days of his mother’s earthly life. Of special note is the vision or experience that he claims they shared together at Ostia. Together alone Augustine and Monica talked in depth about eternal life. They concluded that the pleasures of the bodily senses were not worth comparing with eternal pleasures.
Augustine describes how they were lifted up so that they climbed ‘beyond all corporeal objects and the heaven itself.’ They even moved beyond their own minds, ‘to attain to the region of inexhaustible abundance where you feed Israel eternally with truth for food.’ They experienced that wisdom which is eternal. As they talked about it they ‘touched it in some small degree.’ They soon had to leave behind ‘the firstfruits of the Spirit’ (Rom.8:32) to return to the sound of their human speech, ‘where a sentence has both a beginning and an ending.’
Augustine’s theological reflection on this experience was to move towards a theory of immediate knowledge of God. Imagining a possible scenario where everything and anything in creation was silent: