Sunday, 3 May 2015

Christian Coppa: The Creatureliness of Time and the Goodness of Narrative in Augustine's Confessions

In this short paper I will investigate Augustine's presentation of time, and its relation to eternity, in his Confessions. I contend that Augustine understands time in the light of God's creation ex nihilo. For Augustine, time is a good creature. As such a creature, time participates in divine eternity. This participation, I argue, though it might not resolve the tensions in Augustine's account of time, is enacted in Augustine's narrative. Augustine's narrative, in both form and content, figures eternity in the temporal splendour of polyphonic and relational love. The image of God in time is thus disclosed as a thoroughly narratival one.
My first task will be to elaborate Augustine's complicated understanding of time as distention and its participatory relation to eternity. I then will discuss how Augustine responds to the lasting tensions between time and eternity through his confessional narrative. Underpinning this discussion of Augustine's narrative and the relation of his narrative display of temporality to eternity is his understanding of the imago dei.
Augustine reforms the Platonic dictum that time is a 'moving image of eternity' by revealing that this likeness can only be realized in the polyphony of the voices and stories of others that ground his own voice and story. Augustine's conversion narrative in Books XIII and IX witnesses his turn to the stories of others, in both narrative voice and action. By configuring his narrative as prayer, Augustine anchors his narrative temporality in eternity. He thus activates the liturgical and eschatological dimensions of human temporality.

No comments:

Post a Comment