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Toward a Theology of ErosTransfiguring Passion at the Limits of Discipline$
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Virginia Burrus and Catherine Keller

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780823226351

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: March 2011

DOI: 10.5422/fso/9780823226351.001.0001

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Carthage Didn't Burn Hot Enough: Saint Augustine's Divine Seduction

Carthage Didn't Burn Hot Enough: Saint Augustine's Divine Seduction

(p.205) Carthage Didn't Burn Hot Enough: Saint Augustine's Divine Seduction
Toward a Theology of Eros

Karmen Mackendrick

Fordham University Press

At the opening of Book 3 of Confessions, Saint Augustine declares: “I was in love with love”. This chapter suggests that Augustine stays in love with love—more exactly, that he seeks a constant and potent seduction of and by his God, and that the Confessions is mutually illuminating when read with contemporary theory on seduction. Augustine's relation to God exemplifies at least three characteristics of seduction: the manipulation of the will beyond a simple opposition of consent and coercion; the persistence of the elusively promising within the representational and discursive; and, relatedly, the necessary incompletion of both meaning and desire. The fires of worldly lust are too easily quenched for one who wants to be seduced, and the complexities of seduction in relation to desire, complexities of coercion and pleasure alike, are fully present in Augustine's complicated quest. This chapter exposes the power of the divine seduction that lies at the heart of Augustine's complex theories of love and subjectivity, desire and submission.

Keywords:   Saint Augustine, Confessions, love, seduction, God, consent, coercion, desire, lust, submission

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