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Volume 57, Issue 2, December 2017

P. J. J. van Geest
Pages 493-513

‘Sed ea quae obscura sunt praetermitto’ (Speculum 108)
Augustine’s Selection of Scriptural Quotations in his Speculum as Proof of his Desire to Effect a Confrontation

Although at first sight the Speculum contains ‘too little Augustine’ for theologians who are attempting to discover the originality of this thought, it is in fact a revealing anthology. An examination of the criteria used for the selection of Scriptural quotations brings to light an important facet of his mystagogy. Both the exclusion and inclusion criteria demonstrate that Augustine’s intention is to confront his reader with his own imperfections, and this to a much greater degree than is suggested by the understatement of Speculum 108 that the moral guidelines proffered should have an immediate impact. Augustine’s aim in writing the Speculum is to effect a confrontation of the reader with himself, in a first, but permanent step on the way of mystagogy. Scripture serves as a mirror to reflect as detailed and unpolished an image as possible of the person who looks into it; the confrontation must be as violent as possible.

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