Patrick's Rare Books

Augustine’s Confessions, 1650, Plantin Press

Augustine’s Confessions, 1650, Plantin Press

AUGUSTINE.  Divi Aurelli Augustini Episcopi Hippon. Confessionum Libri XIII. Antverpiae, ex Officina Plantiniana Balthasaris Moreti. M. DC. L. 


Attractively rebound in tooled full brown calf with rasied bands, red title plate, and gold text and lines on spine. Decorative title page, xiv, 576, 12 pages of index, colophon, original rear end paper. New front and rear end papers. Untrimmed fore-edges. Internally clean, bright, and tight, with scattered unobtrusive pencil markings from a prior scholar or devout owner. Prelims include address to D. Gaspari de Bracamonte..., a two-page introduction by the printer Balthasar Moretus (grandson of Chrisopher Plantin), the Approbatio Censoris, and two pages of Testimonia Varia de D. Augustini Confessionum Libris. Hereafter follows the beautifully set Latin text of the Confessions. The book measures approximately 8½ x 5½ x 2¼ inches. 


The Plantin Press was established by Christopher Plantin in 1555. Books from this press are collectable in their own right as Plantiniana. 


Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD) was considered by Roman Catholics and Reformers alike as among the greatest of the Early Church Fathers. Indeed, Calvin quotes Agustine over 100 times in his Institutes. 


In the Confessions, Augustine relates that his father, Patricius, seemed pleased that Augustine was committing adultery in the bath houses (Augustine speculates his father was enthusiastic that it might produce an heir), but he details that his mother, Monica, was deeply troubled by it, though she was temperate in her response (particularly cautioning him not to get involved with another man’s wife). Immediately following this Augustine relates the famous narrative of the incident in which he and some friends stole some pears. Both of these examples of sin are retold in Book II chapters 3 and 4; pages 43 – 48 in this copy. (See also vol 1 of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, pages 56 and 57).  It is interesting to follow the author’s logic here after, as it seems the theft of pears weighs on his conscience more heavily than committing adultery. 


“Ambrose (37/339-397) was Augustine’s first instructor in the Scriptures and taught the allegorical interpretive methodology to Augustine. Augustine, in turn interpreted Scripture in both a literal and allegorical fashion” (Hall, Christopher, Reading Scripture with the Church Fathers, pg 102).


“Augustine’s personal pilgrimage to faith, recorded in an intensely personal form in his Confessions, mirrors for may modern Christians their own personal struggles: How can one live a sexually sane life in a sexually insane culture? How is love different from lust? How has sin affected the human personality? If God is infinitely powerful and infinitely loving, why is the world filled with such evil and suffering? Exactly what is evil?” (Hall, pg 116) 


“So much for Augustine.” - Martin Luther, Answer to Latomus.