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

By Peter Auski

A historic survey of the origins, progress and decline of the "plain style", a method of theoretical discourse that mirrored the mode of expression exemplified via Christ. Peter Auksi attracts on an array of classical, biblical, patristic, medieval and Renaissance basic resources to provide an explanation for this complicated perfect of spiritualized rhetoric. finding the roots of the obvious kind in secular and phiosophic classicism, Auksi examines theories on classical rhetoric from Demetrius and Dionysius of Halicarnassus to Cicero and Quintilian. he indicates how biblicists intentionally remodeled a heathen mode, and demonstrates that rhetoric served a realistic 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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40 Nor, indeed, should language be a primary concern, in Frye's view, since those transformations of language which the Bible embodies or suggests make little sense if separated from transformations of consciousness, which are the focus of Frye's study. For him, biblical rhetoric is unique and problematic. "The Bible has traditionally been assumed," he writes, "to be the rhetoric of God, accommodated to human intelligence and coming through human agents" (28—9). " A very unusual kind of rhetoric, kerygma "is not an argument disguised by figuration," as are most other modes; rather, "it is the vehicle of...

In this he is true to the predominant tradition of Greek and Roman rhetorical theorizing. In his Rhetoric (c. 336 BC), for example, Aristotle had assumed that rhetoric had two functions and therefore two styles. There are arguments resting upon logic and dispassionate proof and, secondly, arguments relying on emotional appeals to an auditor. The former need a technical language, an unfigured conveyor of fact and thought; the latter, a passionate language, a subjectively coloured conveyor of feelings.

In an aesthetic or material sense, humilis "is frequently synonymous with modest, inelegant, of poor quality, shabby" (39). Non-Christian use emphasized the pejorative force of humilis, but it could also, adds Auerbach, extend its range of meaning to include "modesty, wise moderation, obedience, pious submissiveness" (39). Auerbach gives three major reasons for the rise of the low style in Christian discourse. First, humilis enters the Christian imagination as the epidiet for the Incarnation, for the life, suffering, and sublimely lowly person of Christ.

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