Augustine Confessions and the Impossibiity of Confessing God

Auslegung 25 (1) (2001)

Abstract
This work attempts to understand why the work of Augustine of Hippo has experienced such a widespread revival in postmodernity, especially in the writings of Jacques Derrida. At first glance, an alliance between a postmodern atheist and a fourth century bishop and saint seems an unlikely one. However, it is not so strange if one considers that Augustine deals extensively with the problems of sin and guilt. The residue of his guilt survives even the grace of his conversion. The connection between Augustine and the postmoderns is, perhaps, found in the common experience of guilt. The postmoderns are plagued by guilt without the consolation of absolution: guilt for the excesses of modernity, guilt for the rape of the environment, guilt for the holocaust, guilt for surviving when so many others did not. This work contends that Augustine's thought and Derrida's thought are, both, enriched by this odd, but fruitful, play of interpretations. This chapter attempts to situate Augustine in a postmodern context. It will focus primarily on Augustine's text but read that text from a postmodern perspective
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