Professor Freedman begins the lecture by considering the ways historians read the Confessions. In this work, St. Augustine gives unique insight into the life of an intellectual mind in Late Antiquity, into the impact of Christianity on the Roman Empire, and into the problems of early Christianity. The three major doctrinal concerns of the early Church were the problem of evil, the soul-body distinction, and issues of sin and redemption. In the Confessions, St. Augustine searches for explanations of these problems first in Manichaeism, then (Neo)Platonism, and finally Christianity.Underlying this narrative are Augustine’s ideas of opposition to perfectionism, his exaltation of grace, and the notion of sin as indelible, not solvable.
Complete course materials are available at the Open Yale Courses website: http://oyc.yale.edu
This course was recorded in Fall 2011.