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by Saint Augustine

Confessions Theme of Language and Communication

Who woulda thunk that talking about God would be hard? Hey, if it was so straightforward to convince people of complex theological concepts, then we wouldn't need an Augustine in the first place. We can't emphasize enough how important language is to the Confessions. After all, how are you supposed to convey the truth to people, let alone describe it for yourself, without language? And it's no coincidence that Augustine is not only a teacher of rhetoric and literature, but also a huge fan of Latin: language is his job. So words matter to him. Like, a lot.

Questions About Language and Communication

  1. Why do you think Augustine finds it worth mentioning that he likes Latin but not Greek?
  2. Is Augustine a gifted rhetorician? Why or why not? Give some examples.
  3. Is the idea of language particularly important for Christianity in this book? What are some examples of the importance of language to Christianity? 
  4. What are some moments where particular modes of language—speech, literature, writing, reading, etc.—become important to the plot of the Confessions?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Augustine's relationship to language is instrumental in his conversion.

The importance of the Word, and the text of the Bible, in Christianity puts language at the center of the Confessions.

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