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Time, Death, and Eternity

Time, Death, and Eternity

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Overview

In Book XI of the Confessions, Augustine claims that time has its beginning and ending in eternity. In Being and Time, Heidegger claims that death is the ultimate futural possibility for authentic human existence. These two texts, one from the fourth century, the other from the twentieth century, depict two very different perspectives on what limits the human conception of time. Can these perspectives be reconciled?

Initially, Severson follows Paul Ricoeur's reconciliation of Augustine and Heidegger on time and eternity as presented in Time and Narrative (Chicago, 1984-88). But Ricoeur's argument is criticized for lacking theological depth. Building upon the earlier work of Bultmann, Tillich, and Scharlemann, Severson offers a new reading of the Confessions that affirms Augustine's religious quest for understanding while taking into account the constraints of modern criticism.

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