Christian Plain Style: The Evolution of a Spiritual Ideal by Peter Auski

By Peter Auski

A old survey of the origins, progress and decline of the "plain style", a method of theoretical discourse that mirrored the mode of expression exemplified by means of Christ. Peter Auksi attracts on an array of classical, biblical, patristic, medieval and Renaissance basic assets to provide an explanation for this complicated perfect of spiritualized rhetoric. finding the roots of the apparent sort in secular and phiosophic classicism, Auksi examines theories on classical rhetoric from Demetrius and Dionysius of Halicarnassus to Cicero and Quintilian. he exhibits how biblicists intentionally remodeled a heathen mode, and demonstrates that rhetoric served a practical functionality one of the church fathers. the writer additionally discusses different responses of renaissance translators, rhetors, polemicists and humanists to the stylized medieval inheritance, paying specific attentin to the difficulty of sacred plainness in preaching.

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Echoing Cicero, Quintilian too invokes the inheritance of Greek rhetorical theory when he gives to the high style laudatory (and meteoro- 35 Plain Style in Classical Rhetoric logical) epithets such as sublimis, excekus, elatus, and altus. Beside such estimations, the uninspired, meagerly thin, or uncultivated low style must have appeared distinctly inferior. This early awareness of the gulf between a grandly figured rhetoric and its unadorned relation is not probed or emphasized, as most theorists matter of factly accept the centrality of the grand style.

Revelation" (29). To kerygmatic revelation belong a number of distinctive qualities suggestive of inspiration, particularly "the device sometimes called 'pericope,' the short discontinuous unit normally marked by a paragraph sign in most copies of the AV" (215-16). It is one of many tools used to connote "the oracular and discontinuous rhythms of the Bible: the aspect of its rhetoric that suggests divine authority rather than human action" (215). " When Scripture speaks, at the other extreme, "through the voice of man," a different medium is required to satisfy decorum - a familiar, immediate kind of continuous prose redolent of a "sense of the human and familiar" (214).

Centuries later, Cicero also says the least about a middle style and by the plain style seems to understand an Aristotelian mode which is dialectical, difficult, precise, objective, and certainly not simple. Some ornamentation was allowed to the plain style, but the Aristotelian conception of a "philosophical" style is never far from the surface of theorizing either and in Seneca's case becomes the primary justification for a plain mode of discourse. When a Christian rhetor such as Augustine turns to the levels of style, he adopts the Roman threefold codification but seems to sense as well a larger, older twofold division.

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