Reading St. Augustine’s Confessions in Latin

July 17, 2020

Carol Quillen describes how, growing up, her initial insights and perceptions came from what she calls promiscuous reading — reading anything and everything and then finding connections among these very different texts. She consumed Augustine’s Confessions, in the original Latin, which captures and conveys meaning differently than English and enabled her both to grasp and question the complex ways in which language represents reality.

These differences in language, like reading, reveal different ways of seeing the world, and by learning about and seeing them, we create possibilities for ourselves.

Quillen says, “This insight — about the relationship between words, and rhythm, and sound, and meaning — has been important to me over the years, especially as it has encouraged me to consider the variety of ways in which ideas are expressed in different contexts and across time and to recognize the distinctions those differences create in my view of the world. The value of theological, philosophical, literary inquiry — humanistic inquiry — is that it helps us to make sense of things in ways that were not available to us before.”