The Concept of Time in "Enarrationes in Psalmos" by Saint Augustine


What is time? What is its nature, designation and aim? Saint Augustine attempted to resolve these and other questions in his greatest exegetical-homiletical work, Enarrationes in Psalmos. The Bishop of Hippo, commenting on particular verses of the Davidic Psalms, comes to the conviction that time is a variable and fragile value, just like the world and man, which are subject to its laws. The time created by God had a beginning, it abides, and it will have an end. However, this does not mean that the passing of time should be viewed only in a negative sense, for at a concrete moment in time the Son of God became incarnate in order to save man. Time also exists so that man has an opportunity to be converted and to enter eternity. For the Bishop of Hippo, there is no concept of time in eternity, which is changeless and lasts forever. In his conception of time, we can see not only its pure physical aspect, but above all, its theological dimensions. In particular, it contains a message for man that refers not only to the present, but predominantly to the future, to an eternity that inspires great optimism for all people.


Augustine; psalms; time; eternity; man; passing


Augustinus, Enarrationes in Psalmos (PL 36,67-1028; 37,1033-1968); English trans. M. Boulding: Expositions of the Psalms 1–32 (ed. J.E. Rotelle) (The Works of Saint Augustine. A Translation for the 21st Century [=WSA] 3/15; Hyde Park, NY: New City Press 2000). 33–50 (ed. J.E. Rotelle) (WSA 3/16; Hyde Park, NY: New City Press 2000). 51–72 (ed. J.E. Rotelle) (WSA 3/17; Hyde Park, NY: New City Press 2001). 73–98 (ed. J.E. Rotelle) (WSA 3/18; Hyde Park, NY: New City Press 2002). 99–120 (ed. B. Ramsey) (WSA 3/19; Hyde Park, NY: New City Press 2003). 121–150 (ed. B. Ramsey) (WSA; Hyde Park, NY: New City Press 2004).


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Published : 2020-12-21

Czyżewski, B. (2020). The Concept of Time in "Enarrationes in Psalmos" by Saint Augustine. Verbum Vitae, 38(1), 247–262.

Bogdan Stanisław Czyżewski
Uniwersytet im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu  Poland

Rev. Bogdan Czyżewski, a priest of the Archdiocese of Gniezno, professor of theological sciences, lecturer in patrology, history of the ancient Church and classical languages at the Faculty of Theology of the Adam Mickiewicz University of Poznań, author of numerous scholarly publications on patrology; his last monograph is Praktyczne wskazania dla duchownych w literaturze patrystycznej i w prawodawstwie synodalnym (Poznań: Uniwersytet im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu. Wydział Teologiczny 2018) (co-authors: M. Kieling and P. Wygralak).

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