Confessions by Augustine is a series of books by St. Augustine, which describe his life’s journey and transformation from a sinful paganistic individual to a devout Christian. These books are some of the earliest theological and scholastic works depicting one’s path towards religion. It is often described as a ‘self-help’ book in that it demonstrates Augustine’s ideals and his path towards salvation. The 13 books are noteworthy because of their message and the historical place they have in the popularization and development of Christianity and for their rhetorical rigor.
Prior to his conversion, Augustine received formal rhetoric training, which reflects on his writing throughout the books. The books managed to advance my knowledge of rhetoric and philosophy in several ways. I observed the implementation of tenets of Rhetorica ad Herennium, learned of Ciceronian forensic oration techniques, and the use of direct openings in order to set up a proper argument in a way beneficial to oneself (Augustine 77). The former laid the foundation for his writing, as could be seen in the scene where he describes his own theft of pears (Augustine 123). The forensic oration was utilized to evaluate how sinful thoughts came into existence, and direct openings were used to lure in the audience with an open and inquisitive mind.
The central questions of scholarly inquiry of the book include the nature of sin, his conversion to Christianity, the journey and justification of his beliefs. The traveling he undertook was a metaphorical and physical journey from paganism and debauchery into finding happiness and God (Augustine 172). Another purpose of the book was to defend oneself and one’s conversion against skeptical Christians who doubted a man of pagan rhetorical education among their ranks. These inquiries support a central argument that an individual of any background can find a path to God and repent for the sins of their youth (Augustine 173). They demonstrate how Augustus himself found redemption and realized in his own accord the folly of his old ways.
I agree with his position on the subject of redemption and finding God, as many sins he accused himself of having committed are forgivable in the eyes of Heavens so long as the person repents. Realizing that one was doing wrong, tracing the origins of it, and striking at the root of it to prevent re-emergence, essentially becoming a better person, is pleasant to God (Augustine 19). I realize, however, that my position and understanding of his writings is affected and biased by my own culture, which has advanced much based on the humanistic ideas of St. Augustine as discussed in his Confessions.
The book presents an interesting lesson that applies both to communication and marketing. The texts themselves were used not only to defend St. Augustine’s conversion but also to invite conversation about God. By utilizing a direct opening and presenting a subject to either be praised or condemned, one opens up a conversation and makes people more receptive to one’s thoughts (Augustine 78). Since getting the customer’s initial attention is one of the most difficult parts of marketing, the value of achieving so through rhetoric is valuable. Forensic examination of events can also be applied to the reviewing process, either of one’s actions or products. Inviting the customers to participate in such would allow them to better assess the merits of a product or service. At the same time, not all of the rhetoric instruments implemented in the books are applicable to marketing. However, the rhetoric used by St. Augustine is excellent and shows signs of traditional schooling, which could be used in marketing and communication.
Augustine, Saint. The Confessions. Clark, 1876.