Earlier this month, we sent Augustine & Time off to the presses. Co-edited by John Doody, Kim Paffenroth, & myself, Augustine & Time is the latest entry in Rowman & Littlefield’s Augustine in Conversation series.
I was really excited when Dr. Paffenroth gave me the chance to play a part in helping put this volume together. The theme of temporality permeates Augustine’s corpus, from his interrogation of the philosophical depths of time in Confessions 11 to his treatment of time & death in City of God 13. My own monograph, too, dealt with these topics of timeless interest that crop up again & again throughout his writings.
Here’s a description of what we were trying to do in this particular volume:
This collection examines the topic of time in the life and works of Augustine of Hippo. Adopting a global perspective on time as a philosophical and theological problem, the volume includes reflections on the meaning of history, the mortality of human bodies, and the relationship between temporal experience and linguistic expression. As Augustine himself once observed, time is both familiar and surprisingly strange. Everyone’s days are structured by temporal rhythms and routines, from watching the clock to whiling away the hours at work. Few of us, however, take the time to sit down and figure out whether time is real or not, or how it is we are able to hold our past, present, and future thoughts together in a straight line so that we can recite a prayer or sing a song.
Divided into five sections, the essays collected here highlight the ongoing relevance of Augustine’s work even in settings quite distinct from his own era and context. The first three sections, organized around the themes of interpretation, language, and gendered embodiment, engage directly with Augustine’s own writings, from the Confessions to the City of God and beyond. The final two sections, meanwhile, explore the afterlife of the Augustinian approach in conversation with medieval Islamic and Christian thinkers (like Avicenna and Aquinas), as well as a broad range of Buddhist figures (like Dharmakīrti and Vasubandhu).
What binds all of these diverse chapters together is the underlying sense that, regardless of the century or the tradition in which we find ourselves, there is something about the puzzle of temporality that refuses to go away. Time, as Augustine knew, demands our attention. This was true for him in late ancient North Africa. It was also true for Buddhist thinkers in South and East Asia. And it remains just as true for humankind in the twenty-first century, as people around the globe continue to grapple with the reality of time and the challenges of living in a world that always seems to be to be speeding up rather than slowing down.
And here’s a sneak preview of the table of contents:
Part I: Interpreting Augustine On Time
Chapter 1: Time, Eternity, and History in Augustine’s Early Works by Thomas Clemmons
Chapter 2: Keeping Time in Mind: Saint Augustine’s Solution to a Perplexing Problem by Alexander R. Eodice
Chapter 3: Time After Augustine by James Wetzel
Part II: Time, Language, And Song
Chapter 4: Living as Singing: Augustine’s Understanding of the Voice of Creatures in the Confessions by Makiko Sato
Chapter 5: Time, Mirror of the Soul by Cristiane Negreiros Abbud Ayoub
Chapter 6: The Inner Word and the Outer Word: Time, Temporality, and Language in Augustine and Gadamer by Matthew W. Knotts
Part III: Time, Embodiment, And Gender
Chapter 7: Augustinian Temporality and Resurrected Bodies by Paul Ulishney
Chapter 8: Love in the Time of Augustine: Rape, Suicide, and Resurrection in the City of God by Patricia Grosse
Chapter 9: Augustine and the Gendered Self in Time by Megan Loumagne Ulishney
Part IV: Augustinian Temporality in The Middle Ages
Chapter 10: Augustine and Avicenna on the Puzzle of Time Without Time by Celia Hatherly
Chapter 11: The Timing of Creation: Aquinas’s Reception of Augustine by Daniel W. Houck
Chapter 12: Augustine’s Dilemma: Divine Eternity and the Reality of Temporal Passage by Brendan Case
Chapter 13: Thomas Bradwardine: A Fourteenth-Century Augustinian View of Time by Sarah Hogarth Rossiter
Chapter 14: Time After Time: Gregory of Rimini, Contingents Past and Future, and Augustinian Critique by Matthew Vanderpoel
Part V: Augustinian And Buddhist Temporalities
Chapter 15: Non-Presentism in Antiquity: South Asian Buddhist Perspectives by Sonam Kachru
Chapter 16: Breaking the Stream of Consciousness: Momentariness and the Eternal Present by Davey K. Tomlinson
Chapter 17: Out of the Abyss: On Pedagogical Relationality and Time in the Confessions and the Lotus Sutra by Joy Brennan
I’m especially pleased that we were able to expand outside of intra-Christian debates about Augustine with this volume. The concluding section on Augustinian & Buddhist temporalities will, I feel, contribute something really new & worthwhile to our collective appreciation of time’s riddles.