Augustine's Concept of Time and his Interpretation of the Word of God

Lee, Christine
June 2009
Sino-Christian Studies;Jun2009, Vol. 7, p139
Academic Journal
In this essay I will discuss Augustine's concept of time and it's relation to the issues of realization and interpretation. I mainly use the materials from Confessions Book XI, but I will also apply the corresponding arguments in On the Trinity. In setting out his concept of time, Augustine reflected upon the concern between "time and eternity," "time and existence of the human being." In doing so, he settled the significance and definition of time in the spirit/consciousness of human being. "The time present of things past is memory; the time present of things present is direct experience; the time present of things future is expectation" (bk. XI, chap. XX). Accordingly memory, direct experience and expectation relate to the attention of consciousness here and now. In other words, time extends itself in the intension of the individual as he/she relates to the past and the future. In this temporal structure and its display of the meaning of history, it is the synchronic, not the diachronic, that is more determinative. Memory (memoria) is the basis for the individual to interpret present, past and future, which includes not only human experiences, but also and more fundamental, the eternal creating Word of God in human existence. The eternal creating Word is the inner word of the human being, the human memoria, which is the ground for human consciousness from which interpretaton of outside experiences is made. Augustine's epistemology--constructed from his conception of time, in relation to the creating Word and the interpreting of Word of Incarnation--is the kernel of this essay.


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