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Page Range

18-34

Keywords

Augustine, Rhetoric, Preaching

Abstract

The art and practice of rhetoric occupied a fundamental place in the ancient Roman world. It is thus not surprising that Augustine (354-430 AD) was deeply committed to the art of speaking well. He spent his youth mastering the theory of rhetoric, putting into practice what he had learned during a preaching career of almost forty years. This essay examines elements of rhetoric in Augustine’s preaching, arguing that he purposely appropriated common rhetorical elements in his preaching for the purpose of making Scripture both plain and compelling to his audience. Augustine’s training in rhetoric is summarized, followed by an overview of the context, Scriptural basis, and style of his preaching. His thoughts on the use of rhetoric in preaching are discussed, primarily by summarizing his arguments from Book Four of his treatise On Christian Doctrine. The essay concludes by offering several examples of rhetorical devices used by Augustine in his preaching.

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