"Non solum sibi sed aliis etiam": Neoplatonism and Rhetoric in Saint Augustine's De doctrina Christiana

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

In the Confessions (397-401) and On Christian Doctrine (396; 426), St. Augustine brackets Neoplatonic philosophy with Ciceronian rhetoric, finding the acknowledged value of each to be limited by an emphasis on individual achievement that is conducive to pride. His personal struggle to overcome such pride shaped his conception of Christian eloquence, which stresses humility through subordination to the scriptural text and service to others. The Christian orator, as defined by Augustine, is above all a teacher who embodies the biblical text, whether by using the "rule of charity" to paraphrase the truths found in Scripture, by simply repeating the actual words of the Bible, or by leading a life of charity that constitutes a kind of speech without words.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)393-408
Number of pages16
JournalRhetorica - Journal of the History of Rhetoric
Volume16
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 1998
Externally publishedYes

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rhetoric
bible
doctrine
teacher
De Doctrina Christiana
Rhetoric
Augustine of Hippo
Neo-Platonism
Pride
Charity
Values
Scripture
Humility
Conception
Eloquence
Paraphrase
Bible
Subordination
Marcus Tullius Cicero
Orator

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

Cite this

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abstract = "In the Confessions (397-401) and On Christian Doctrine (396; 426), St. Augustine brackets Neoplatonic philosophy with Ciceronian rhetoric, finding the acknowledged value of each to be limited by an emphasis on individual achievement that is conducive to pride. His personal struggle to overcome such pride shaped his conception of Christian eloquence, which stresses humility through subordination to the scriptural text and service to others. The Christian orator, as defined by Augustine, is above all a teacher who embodies the biblical text, whether by using the {"}rule of charity{"} to paraphrase the truths found in Scripture, by simply repeating the actual words of the Bible, or by leading a life of charity that constitutes a kind of speech without words.",
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