Your first paragraph ...
put everything in perspective and keep you from wondering what happens next -
here is a timeline of Augustine’s life - high spots only.
A Key Understanding for Augustine
He demonstrates in Book XII at least 10 different interpretations of Genesis 1:1-3
Which one is correct? The one that leads you to love God more - nothing else matters.
Your friend may have a different interpretation - but if leads your friend to love God more it is the correct interpretation - for your friend.
Thus Augustine pleads with Christians to allow multiple interpretations. It is O.K. to argue your interpretations - Augustine certainly did. But never insist that your interpretation is the only possible correct one.
Today’s notion of taking every word literally was unthinkable to Augustine.
Augustine did “literal” interpretation but it meant something very different to him.
To Augustine, we are commanded to “love God - with all our mind, all our heart, all our strength, all our soul. And if we got that right, nothing else much mattered.
As I said last week, part of the appeal of The Confessions was to get an insider’s view of what that was like.
In Book 10 Augustine pauses in his conversation with God and laments about the fact he took so darn long (31 years) before he understood enough to really love God. And he describes that lament as only Augustine can.
Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you!
You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with you. Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would have not been at all.
You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your peace.