Good Translation of Augustine's Confessions?


I've made a couple of attempts at reading Augustine's Confessions in the last few months. I'm not normally put off by dense writing, but my copy is Pusey's translation, and I suspect it's not the best I could be reading. I'm sure it's not the most modern. Can anyone recommend a good translation to me?

I'd love to read it, because what I have read of his life elsewhere really resonates with me, but I think I need a bit of help :o


**i have this edition by John K. Ryan & found it to be wonderful & life changing!
Read it here;

Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, Ora Pro Nobis Peccatoribus!



My favorite is the** Frank Sheed** translation…I often pick it up and read it for prayer/ meditation and for pleasure. I first read the Pine-Coffin translation…many parts of it were difficult at best and at worse…simply downright confusing…at least for me.

Here is a Prof at Villanova…who teaches a course on St. Augustine. The Prof gives a “one-line” review of several translations (he “applauds” Sheed’s – and others – esp Warner’s for clarity and readability – but says to avoid** Pine-Coffin’s**…so from my perspective he has some solid credibility…of course his word on this is much more credible than mine).Note: the last book that he mentions is a not Confessions…but an excellent biography of St. Augustine.

This bibliography comes from the Teaching Company course on Augustine, 12 lectures on audiotape, by Professor Phillip Cary of Villanova.****** For what it’s worth, here is Professor Cary’s comments on the various translations & editions available:

****** ____. Confessions. Trans. H. Chadwick. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991. The most learned translation with excellent scholarly notes.
____. Confessions and Enchiridion. Trans. A. Outler. Library of Christian Classics series. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1955. Clear, reliable translations.
____. Confessions. Trans. R.S. Pine-Coffin. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin, 1961. Not a reliable translation. Best avoided.
____. Confessions. Trans. J.K. Ryan. New York: Doubleday, 1960. Pedestrian but reliable translation.
. Confessions. Trans. F.J. Sheed. ******Revised edition. Indianapolis: Hackett, 1993. This translation does the best job with the electrifying high poetry of Augustine’s writing. Peter Brown’s wonderful introduction (in this edition only) almost makes up for the lack of explanatory notes.
. Confessions. Trans. Rex Warner
. New York: Mentor, 1963. This translation takes the prize for sheer clarity and readability but has no notes, not even Scripture references.

Brown, Peter. Augustine of Hippo. Berkeley: University of California, 1967. The biography everyone should read. It contains a magnificent evocation of Augustine’s social and historical world and detailed treatment of the evolution of his thinking.

****Also…here is a **Wikipedia **page with an excellent overview…and a terrific chapter subject outline.

Hope this is helpful…

Pax Christi


Thank you both. I will check out your recommendations.


I have used the Learning Company's course on CD regarding St. Augustine's "Confessions". I read the section in the book-or should I say the "Book" then I listen to the lesson on CD. It helps reinforce what I read because like the original Questioner I too have a difficult time understanding some of the archaic language St Augustine uses in "Confessions". I got a copy of the "Confessions" out of my local bookstore. It is the Oxford World's Classics soft-cover edition. It is a translation by Henry Chadwick and I believe per another poster's comment that it is a very good translation.

Good luck in your study of this monumental work!

God Bless


Yes, the Henry Chadwick translation piqued my interest - I’m passingly familiar with his work as a historian, and just judging by his history of the early church he seems to be good at what he does.


I have Chadwick's translation. It really is a work of art!


It’s the one I ended up reading. Very good!


I also favor the Chadwick. It's the one I consulted in an advanced Latin translation course (combined upper div / graduate) on the Confessions. It's accurate and also poetic.


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