Last week I posted a brief article on Augustine’s suspicious attitude toward literature. This article is the first in brief series I have planned on how Christians should view literature.
Given the comments I received on my initial post, it became clear to me that I had to make my case more clearly. So in this post I hope to clarify my argument about Augustine’s distrust of literature.
Definition and Summary
First of all, I use the term “literature” to refer to imaginative, fictional, or mythical narratives. In the fourth century AD, this would be limited mostly to epic poetry and drama. Literature, then, refers to a genre of writing distinct from philosophy and rhetoric. This use of terms is consistent with my translation of Augustine’s Confessions (Maria Boulding’s translation for the Augustinian Heritage Institute). I have too little knowledge of Latin to do anything other than trust the translator.
Second, I summarized Augustine’s charges against literature as follows: