Augustin: Doctrine 3050

Chapter 35.—The Fifth Rule of Tichonius.

50. The fifth rule Tichonius lays down is one he designates of times,—a rule by which we can frequently discover or conjecture quantities of time which are not expressly mentioned in Scripture. And he says that this rule applies in two ways: either to the figure of speech called synecdoche, or to legitimate numbers. The figure synecdoche either puts the part for the whole, or the whole for the part. As, for example, in reference to the time when, in the presence of only three of His disciples, our Lord was transfigured on the mount, so that His face shone as the sun, and His raiment was white as snow, one evangelist says that this event occurred “after eight days,”86 while another says that it occurred “after six days.”87 Now both of these statements about the number of days cannot be true, unless we suppose that the writer who says “after eight days,” counted the latter part of the day on which Christ uttered the prediction and the first part of the day on which he showed its fulfillment as two whole days; while the writer who says “after six days,” counted only the whole unbroken days between these two. This figure of speech, which puts the part for the whole, explains also the great question about the resurrection of Christ. For unless to the latter part of the day on which He suffered we join the previous night, and count it as a whole day, and to the latter part of the night in which He arose we join the Lord’s day and He would be in the heart of the earth.88

3051 51. In the next place, our author calls those numbers legitimate which Holy Scriptures more highly favors such as seven, or ten, or twelve, or any of the other numbers which the diligent reader of Scripture soon comes to know. Now numbers of this sort are often means just the same as “His praise shall continually be in my mouth.”89 And their force is exactly the same, either when multiplied by ten, as seventy hundred seven hundred (whence the seventy years mentioned in Jeremiah may be taken in a spiritual sense for the whole time during which the Church sojourner among aliens);90 or when multiplied into themselves, as ten into ten gives one hundred, and twelve into twelve gives one hundred and forty-four, which last number is used in the Apocalypse to signify the whole body of the saints.91 Hence it appears that it is not merely questions about times that are to be settled by these numbers, but that their significance is of much wider application, and extends to many subjects. That number in the Apocalypse, for example, mentioned above, has not reference to times, but to men.

Chapter 36.—The Sixth Rule of Tichonius.

52. The sixth rule Tichonius calls the recapitulation, which, with sufficient watchfulness, is discovered in difficult parts of Scripture. For certain occurrences are so related, that the narrative appears to be following the order of time, or the continuity of events, when it really goes back without mentioning it to previous occurrences, which had been passed over in their proper place. And we make mistakes if we do not understand this, from applying the rule here spoken of. For example, in the book of Genesis we read, “And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there He put the man whom He had formed. And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food.”92 Now here it seems to be indicated that the events last mentioned took place after God had formed man and put him in the garden; whereas the fact is, that the two events having been briefly mentioned, viz., that God planted a garden, and there put the man whom He had formed, the narrative goes back, by way of recapitulation, to tell what had before been omitted, the way in which the garden was planted: that out of the ground God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for fond. Here there follows “The tree of life also was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.” Next the river is mentioned which watered the garden, and which was parted into four heads, the sources of four streams; and all this has reference to the arrangements of the garden. And when this is finished, there is a repetition of the this: “And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden.”93 For it was after all these other things were done that man was put in the garden, as now appears from the order of the narrative itself: it was not after man was put there that the other things were done, as the previous statement might be thought to imply, did we not accurately mark and understand the recapitulation by which the narrative reverts to what had previously been passed over.

3053 53. In the same book, again, when the generations of the sons of Noah are recounted, it is said: “These are the sons of Ham, after their families, after their tongues, in their countries, and in their nations.”94 And, again, when the sons of Shem are enumerated: “These are the sons of Shem, after their families, after their tongues, in their lands, after their nations.”95 And it is added in reference to them all: “These are the families of the sons of Noah, after their generations in their nations; and by these were the nations divided in the earth after the flood. And the whole earth was of one language and of one speech.”96 Now the addition of this sentence, “And the whole earth was of one language and of one speech,” seems to indicate that at the time when the nations were scattered over the earth they had all one language in common; but this is evidently inconsistent with the previous words, in their families, after their tongues.” For each family or nation could not be said to have its own language if all had one language in common. And so it is by way of recapitulation it is added, “And the whole earth was of one language and of one speech,” the narrative here going back, without indicating the change, to tell how it was, that from having one language in common, the nations were divided into a multitude of tongues. And, accordingly, we are forthwith told of the building of the tower, and of this punishment being there laid upon them as the judgment of God upon their arrogance; and it was after this that they were scattered over the earth according to their tongues.

3054 54. This recapitulation is found in a still more obscure form; as, for example, our Lord says in the gospel: “The same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed. In that day, he which shall be upon the house-top, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away; and he back. Remember Lot’s wife.”97 Is it when our Lord shall have been revealed that men are to give heed to these sayings, and not to look behind them, that is, not to long after the past life which they have renounced? Is not the present rather the time to give heed to them, that when the Lord shall have been revealed every man may receive his reward according to the things he has given heed to or despised? And yet because Scripture says, “In that day,” the time of the revelation of the Lord will be thought the time for giving heed to these sayings, unless the reader be watchful and intelligent so as to understand the recapitulation, in which he will be assisted by that other passage of Scripture which even in the time of the apostles proclaimed: “Little children, it is the last time.”98 The very time then when the gospel is preached, up to the time that the Lord shall be revealed, is the day in which men ought to give heed to these sayings: for to the same day, which shall be brought to a close by a day of judgment, belongs that very revelation of the Lord here spoken of.99

Chapter 37.—The Seventh Rule of Tichonius.

55. The seventh rule of Tichonius and the last, is about the devil and his body. For he is the head of the wicked, who are in a sense his body, and destined to go with him into the punishment of everlasting fire, just as Christ is the head of the Church, which is His body, destined to be with Him in His eternal kingdom and glory. Accordingly, as the first rule, which is called of the Lord and His body, directs us, when Scripture speaks of one and the same person, to take pains to understand which part of the statement applies to the head and which to the body; so this last rule shows us that statements are sometimes made about the devil, whose truth is not so evident in regard to himself as in regard to his body; and his body is made up not only of those who are manifestly out of the way, but of those also who, though they really belong to him, are for a time mixed up with the Church, until they depart from this life, or until the chaff is separated from the wheat at the last great winnowing. For example, what is said in Isaiah, “How he is fallen from heaven, Lucifer, son of the morning!”100 and the other statements of the context which, under the figure of the king of Babylon, are made about the same person, are of course to be understood of the devil; and yet the statement which is made in the same place, “He is ground down on the earth, who sendeth to all nations,”101 does not altogether fitly apply to the head himself. For, although the devil sends his angels to all nations, yet it is his body, not himself, that is ground down on the each, except that he himself is in his body, which is beaten small like the dust which the wind blows from the face of the earth.

3056 56. Now all these rules, except the one about the promises and the law, make one meaning to be understood where another is expressed, which is the peculiarity of figurative diction; and this kind of diction, it seems to me, is too widely spread to be comprehended in its full extent by any one. For, wherever one thing is said with the intention that another should be understood we have a figurative expression, even though the name of the trope is not to be found in the art of rhetoric. And when an expression of this sort occurs where it is customary to find it, there is no trouble in understanding it; when it occurs, however, where it is not customary, it costs labor to understand it, from some more, from some less, just as men have got more or less from God of the gifts of intellect, or as they have access to more or fewer external helps. And, as in the case of proper words which I discussed above, and in which things are to be understood just as they are expressed, so in the case of figurative words, in which one thing is expressed and another is to be understood, and which I have just finished speaking of as much as I thought enough, students of these venerable documents ought to be counselled not only to make themselves acquainted with the forms of expression ordinarily used in Scripture, to observe them carefully, and to remember them accurately, but also, what is especially and before all things necessary, to pray that they may understand them. For in these very books on the study of which they are intent, they read, “The Lord giveth wisdom: out of His mouth cometh knowledge and understanding;”102 and it is from Him they have received their very desire for knowledge, if it is wedded to piety. But about signs, so far as relates to words, I have now said enough. It remains to discuss, in the following book, so far as God has given me light, the means of communicating our thoughts to others.

1 Book 1,chap.1).
Jn 1,1-2.
3 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and God was.
4 This Word was in the beginning with God.
5 And the Word was God.
6 The same was in the beginning with God.
7 Ph 1,22-24.
8 The Vulgate reads, multo magis melius, omitting the enim).
9 2Co 7,1-2.
10 1Co 7,34).
11 Rm 8,33-34.
12 Percontatio.
13 Interrogatio.
14 The English language has no two words expressing the shades of meaning assigned by Augustin to percontatio and interrogatio respectively).
15 Rm 9,30
16 Jn 1,47
17 Ps 139,16 substance was not hid from Thee when I was made in secret”).
18 My bone was not hid from Thee.
19 Ga 5,21).
20 1Th 3,7 brethren, we were comforted over you” ).
21 1Co 15,31
22 2Co 3,6
23  Ga 3,24. The word paidagwgov" means strictly not a schoolmaster, but a servant who takes children to school).
24 Ac 4,34-35.
25 Claudian).
26 Lc 15,16).
27 Flagitium.
28 Facinus.
29 Rm 2,5-9.
30 Ga 5,24
31 Jr 1,10).
32 Jn 12,3
33 Os 1,2).
34 Mt 7,12 Tb 4,15
35 Jn 6,5
36 Rm 12,20 Pr 25,21-22).
37 Jn 12,25 Mt 10,39
38 Si 12,4 Tb 4,17
39 Si 7,27).
40 1Co 7,1 1Co 7,2 1Co 7,9.
41  Qo 3,5.
42 Tb 8,5-7).
43 Comp. 2S 16,22 2S 18,5 2S 19,1.
44 (2S 12,19-23.
45 (2S 12,1-6.
46 2Ch 1,10-12 1R 11,1-3.
47 1Co 10,12
48 Comp. Jc 4,6 and 1P 5,6.
49 Mt 16,6 Lc 12,1
50 Lc 13,21.
51 Ap 5,5
52 (1P 5,8
53 Mt 10,16
54 2Co 11,3
55 Jn 6,51
56 Pr 9,17
57 Ps lxxv. 8.
58 Ap 17,15
59 Jn 7,38
60 Ps 35,2
61 Ps 5,12
62 Ep 6,16
63 1Th 5,8).
64 The word piscina (literally a fish-pond) was used in post-Augustan times for any pool of water, a swimming pond, for instance, or a pond for cattle to drink from).
65 Quod minime luceat.
66 Ga 3,29
67 Is 61,10 Is a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with Is.
68 Ct 1,5
69 Mt 13,47-48.
70 Ga 4,30
71 Is 42,16
72 Mt 24,50-51.
73 Ep 6,23
74 1Co 11,19
75 Rm 12,3
76 Ph 1,29).
77 (2S 7,14-16.
78 Ez 36,17-19.
79 1Co 10,18
80 Ez 36,23
81 Ez 36,23-29.
82 Is 10,22
83 2Co 3,2-3.
84 Ez 38,26).
85 2Tm 1,9-10.
86 Lc 9,28
87 Mt 17,1 Mc 9,2
88 Mt 12,40
89 Comp. Ps 119,164 with 34,2.
90 Jr 25,11).
91 Ap 7,4
92 Gn 2,8-9.
93 Gn 2,15
94 Gn 10,20
95 Gn 10,31
96 Gn 10,32 Gn 11,1
97  Lc 17,29-32).
98 1Jn 2,18
99 Comp. Rm 2,5.
100 Is 14,12 art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!” (A. V)..
101 Is 14,12 art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!”.
102 Pr 2,6).

Book IV


4000 Argument—Passing to the second part of his work, that which treats of expression, the author premises that it is no part of his intention to write a treatise on the laws of rhetoric. These can be learned elsewhere, and ought not to be neglected, being indeed specially necessary for the Christian teacher, whom it behoves to excel in eloquence and power of speech. After detailing with much care and minuteness the various qualities of an orator, he recommends the authors of the Holy Scriptures as the best models of eloquence, far excelling all others in the combination of eloquence with wisdom. He points out that perspicuity is the most essential quality of style, and ought to be cultivated with especial care by the teacher, as it is the main requisite for instruction, although other qualities are required for delighting and persuading the hearer. All these gifts are to be sought in earnest prayer from God, though we are not to forget to be zealous and diligent in study. He shows that there are three species of style, the subdued, the elegant, and the majestic; the first serving for instruction, the second for praise, and the third for exhortation: and of each of these he gives examples, selected both from scripture and from early teachers of the church, Cyprian and Ambrose. He shows that these various styles may be mingled, and when and for what purposes they are mingled; and that they all have the same end in view, to bring home the truth to the hearer, so that he may understand it, hear it with gladness, and practise it in his life. Finally, he exhorts the Christian teacher himself, pointing out the dignity and responsibility of the office he hold to lead a life in harmony with his own teaching, and to show a good example to all.

Chapter 1.—This Work Not Intended as a Treatise on Rhetoric.

1). This work of mine, which is entitled On Christian Doctrine, was at the commencement divided into two parts. For, after a preface, in which I answered by anticipation those who were likely to take exception to the work, I said, “There are two things on which all interpretation of Scripture depends: the mode of ascertaining the proper meaning, and the known, the meaning.”1 As, then, I have already said a great deal about the mode of ascertaining the meaning, and have given three books to this one part of the subject, I shall only say a few things about the mode of making known the meaning, in order if four books.

4002 2. In the first place, then, I wish by this preamble to put a stop to the expectations of readers who may think that I am about to lay down rules of rhetoric such as I have learnt and taught too, in the secular schools, and to warn them that they need not look for any such from me. Not that I think such rules of no use, but that whatever use they have is to be learnt elsewhere; and if any good man should happen to have leisure for learning them, he is not to ask me to teach them either in this work or any other.

Chapter 2.—It is Lawful for a Christian Teacher to Use the Art of Rhetoric.

3. Now, the art of rhetoric being available for the enforcing either of truth or falsehood, who will dare to say that truth in the person of its defenders is to take its stand unarmed against falsehood? For example, that those who are trying to persuade men of what is false are to know how to introduce their subject, so as to put the hearer into a friendly, or attentive, or teachable frame of mind, while the defenders of the truth shall be ignorant of that art? That the former are to tell their falsehoods briefly, clearly, and plausibly, while the latter shall tell the truth in such a way that it is tedious to listen to, hard to understand, and, in fine, not easy to believe it? That the former are to oppose the to melt, to enliven, and to rouse them, while the latter shall in defence of the truth be sluggish, and frigid, and somnolent? Who is such a fool as to think this wisdom? Since, then, the faculty of eloquence is available for both sides, and is of very great service in the enforcing either of wrong or right, why do not good men study to engage it on the side of truth, when bad men use it to obtain the triumph of wicked and worthless causes, and to further injustice and error?

Chapter 3.—The Proper Age and the Proper Means for Acquiring Rhetorical Skill.

4. But the theories and rules on this subject (to which, when you add a tongue thoroughly skilled by exercise and habit in the use of many words and many ornaments of speech, you have what is called eloquence or oratory) may be learnt apart from these writings of mine, if a suitable space of time be set aside for the purpose at a fit and proper age. But only by those who can learn them any one who cannot learn this art quickly can never thoroughly learn it at all.2 Whether this be true or not, why need we inquire? For even if this art can occasionally be in the end mastered by men of slower intellect, I do not think it of so much importance as to wish men who have arrived at mature age to spend time in learning it. It is enough that boys should give attention to it; and even of these, not all who are to be fitted for usefulness in the Church, but only those who are not yet engaged in any occupation of more urgent necessity, or which ought evidently to take precedence of it. For men of quick intellect and glowing temperament find it easier to become eloquent by reading and listening to eloquent speakers than by following rules for eloquence. And even outside the canon, which to our great advantage is fixed in a place of secure authority, there is no want of ecclesiastical writings, in reading which a man of ability will acquire a tinge of the eloquence with which they are written, even though he does not aim at this, but is solely intent on the matters treated of; especially, of course, if in addition he practise himself in writing, or dictating, and at last also in speaking, the opinions he has formed on grounds of piety them, and who speak with fluency and elegance, cannot always think of them when they are speaking so as to speak in accordance with them, unless they are discussing the rules themselves. Indeed, I think there are scarcely any who can do both things—that is, speak well, and; in order to do this, think of the rules of speaking while they are speaking. For we must be careful that what we have got to say does not escape us whilst we are thinking about saying it according to the rules of art. Nevertheless, in the speeches of eloquent men, we find rules of eloquence carried out which the speakers did not think of as aids to eloquence at the time when they were speaking, whether they had ever learnt them, or whether they had never even met with them. For it is because they are eloquent that they exemplify these rules; it is not that they use them in order to be eloquent.

4005 5. And, therefore, as infants cannot learn to speak except by learning words and phrases from those who do speak, why should not men become eloquent without being taught any art of speech, simply by reading and learning the speeches of eloquent men, and by imitating them as far as they can? And what do we find from the examples themselves to be the case in this respect? We know numbers who, without acquaintance with rhetorical rules, are more eloquent than many who have learnt these; but we know no one who is eloquent without having read and listened to the speeches and debates of eloquent men. For even the art of grammar, which teaches correctness of speech, need not be learnt by boys, if they have the advantage of growing up and living among men who speak correctly. For without knowing the names of any of the faults, they will, from being accustomed to correct speech, lay hold upon whatever is faulty in the speech of any one they listen to, and avoid it; just as city-bred men, even when illiterate, seize upon the faults of rustics.

Chapter 4.—Theduty of the Christian Teacher.

4006 6. It is the duty, then, of the interpreter and teacher of Holy Scripture the defender of the true faith and the opponent of error, both to teach what is right and to refute what is wrong, and in the performance of this task to conciliate the hostile, to rouse the careless, and to tell the ignorant both what is occurring at present and what is probable in the future. But once that his hearers are friendly, attentive, and ready to learn, whether he has found them so, or has himself made them so the remaining objects are to be carried out in whatever way the case requires. If the hearers need teaching, the matter treated of must be made fully known by means of narrative. On the other hand, to clear up points that are doubtful requires reasoning and the exhibition of proof. If, however, the hearers require to be roused rather than instructed, in order that they may be diligent to do what they already know, and to bring their feelings into harmony with the truths they admit, greater vigor of speech is needed. Here entreaties and reproaches, exhortations and upbraidings, and all the other means of rousing the emotions, are necessary.

4007 7. And all the methods I have mentioned are constantly used by nearly every one in cases where speech is the agency employed.

Chapter 5.—Wisdom of More Importance Than Eloquence to the Christ!an Teacher.

But as some men employ these coarsely, inelegantly, and frigidly, while others use them with acuteness, elegance, and spirit, the work that I am speaking of ought to be undertaken by one who can argue and speak with wisdom, if not with eloquence, and with profit to his hearers, even though he profit them less than he would if he could speak with eloquence too. But we must beware of the man who abounds in eloquent nonsense, and so much the more if the hearer is pleased with what is not worth listening to, and thinks that because the speaker is eloquent what he says must be true. And this opinion is held even by those who think that the art of rhetoric should be taught; for they confess that “though wisdom without eloquence is of little service to states, yet eloquence without wisdom is frequently a positive injury, and is of service never.”3 If, then, the men who teach the principles of eloquence have been forced by truth to confess this in the very books which treat of eloquence, though they were ignorant of the true, that is, the heavenly wisdom which comes down from the Father of Lights, how much more ought we to feel it who are the sons and the ministers of this higher wisdom! Now a man speaks with more or less wisdom just as he has made more or less progress in the knowledge of Scripture; I do not mean by reading them much and committing them to memory, but by understanding them aright and carefully searching into their meaning. For there are who read and yet neglect them; they read to remember the words, but are careless about knowing the meaning. It is plain we must set far above these the men who are not so retentive of the words, but see with the eyes of the heart into the heart of Scripture. Better than either of these, however, is the man who, when he wishes, can repeat the words, and at the same time correctly apprehends their meaning.

4008 8. Now it is especially necessary for the man who is bound to speak wisely, even though he cannot speak eloquently, to retain in memory the words of Scripture. For the more he discerns the poverty of his own speech, the more he ought to draw on the riches of Scripture, so that what he says in his own words he may prove by the words of Scripture; and he himself, though small and weak in his own words, may gain strength and power from the confirming testimony of great men. For his proof gives pleasure when he cannot please by his mode of speech. But if a man desire to speak not only with wisdom, but with eloquence also (and assuredly he will prove of greater service if he can do both), I would rather send him to read, and listen to, and exercise himself in imitating, eloquent men, than advise him to spend time with the teachers of rhetoric; especially if the men he reads and listens to are justly praised as having spoken, or as being accustomed to speak, not only with eloquence, but with wisdom also. For eloquent speakers are heard with pleasure; wise speakers with profit. And, therefore, Scripture does not say that the multitude of the eloquent, but “the multitude of the wise is the welfare of the world.”4 And as we must often swallow wholesome bitters, so we must always avoid unwholesome sweets. But what is better than wholesome sweetness or sweet wholesomeness? For the sweeter we try to make such things, the easier it is to make their wholesomeness serviceable. And so there are writers of the Church who have expounded the Holy Scriptures, not only with wisdom, but with eloquence as well; and there is not more time for the reading of these than is sufficient for those who are studious and at leisure to exhaust them.

Chapter 6.—The Sacred Writers Unite Eloquence with Wisdom.

9. Here, perhaps, some one inquires whether the authors whose divinely-inspired writings constitute the canon, which carries with it a most wholesome authority, are to be considered wise only, or eloquent as well. A question which to me, and to those who think with me, is very easily settled. For where I understand these writers, it seems to me not only that nothing can be wiser, but also that nothing can be more eloquent. And I venture to affirm that all who truly understand what these writers say, perceive at the same time that it could not have been properly said in any other way. For as there is a kind of eloquence that is more becoming in youth, and a kind that is more becoming in old age, and nothing can be called eloquence if it be not suitable to the person of the speaker, so there is a kind of eloquence that is becoming in men who justly claim the highest authority, and who are evidently inspired of God. With this eloquence they spoke; no other would have been suitable for them; and this itself would be unsuitable in any other, for it is in keeping with their character, while it mounts as far above that of others (not from empty inflation, but from solid merit) as it seems to fall below them. Where, however, I do not understand these writers, though their eloquence is then less apparent, I have no doubt but that it is of the same kind as that I do understand. The very obscurity, too, of these divine and wholesome words was a necessary element in eloquence of a kind that was designed to profit our understandings, not only by the discovery of truth, but also by the exercise of their powers.

4010 10. I could, however, if I had time, show those men who cry up their own form of language as superior to that of our authors (not because of its majesty, but because of its inflation), that all those powers and beauties of eloquence which they make their boast, are to be found in the sacred writings which God in His goodness has provided to mould our characters, and to guide us from this world of wickedness to the blessed world above. But it is not the qualities which these writers have in common with the heathen orators and poets that give me such unspeakable delight in their eloquence; I am more struck with admiration at the way in which, by an eloquence peculiarly their own, they so use this eloquence of ours that it is not conspicuous either by its presence or its absence: for it did not become them either to condemn it or to make an ostentatious display of it; and if they had shunned it, they would have done the former; if they had made it prominent. they might have appeared to be doing the latter. And in those passages where the learned do note its presence, the matters spoken of are such, that the words in which they are put seem not so much to be sought out by the speaker as spontaneously to suggest themselves; as if wisdom were walking out of its house,—that is, the breast of the wise man, and eloquence, like an inseparable attendant, followed it without being called for.5

Chapter 7.—Examples of True Eloquence Drawn from the Epistles of Paul and the Prophecies of Amos.

11. For who would not see what the apostle meant to say, and how wisely he has said it, in the following passage: “We glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope: and hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us”?6 Now were any man unlearnedly learned (if I may use the expression) to contend that the apostle had here followed the rules of rhetoric, would not every Christian, learned or unlearned, laugh at him? And yet here we find the figure which is called in Greek klimaz (climax,) and by some in Latin gradatio, for they do not care to call it scala (a ladder), when the words and ideas have a connection of dependency the one upon the other, as we see here that patience arises out of tribulation, experience out of patience, and hope out of experience. Another ornament, too, is found here; for after certain statements finished in a single tone of voice, which we call clauses and sections (membra et caesa), but the Greeks kpla and kommata,7 there follows a rounded sentence (ambitus sive circuitus) which the Greeks call periodo",8 the clauses of which are suspended on the voice of the speaker till the whole is completed by the last clause For of the statements which precede the period this is the first clause, “knowing that tribulation worketh patience;” the second, “and patience, experience;” the third, “and experience, hope.” Then the period which is subjoined is completed in three clauses, of which the first is, “and hope maketh not ashamed;” the second, “because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts;” the third, “by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” But these and other matters of the same kind are taught in the art of elocution. As then I do not affirm that the apostle was guided by the rules of eloquence, so I do not deny that his wisdom naturally produced, and was accompanied by, eloquence.

4012 12. In the Second Epistle to the Corinthians, again, he refutes certain false apostles who had gone out from the Jews, and had been trying to injure his character; and being compelled to speak of himself, though he ascribes this as folly to himself, how wisely and how eloquently he speaks! But wisdom is his guide, eloquence his attendant; he follows the first, the second follows him, and yet he does not spurn it when it comes after him. “I say again,” he says, “Let no man think me a fool: if otherwise, yet as a fool receive me, that I may boast myself a little. That which I speak, I speak it not after the Lord, but as it were foolishly, in this confidence of boasting. Seeing that many glory after the flesh, I will glory also. For ye suffer fools gladly, seeing ye yourselves are wise. For ye suffer, if a man bring you into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take of you, if a man exalt himself, if a man smite you on the face. I speak as concerning reproach, as though we had been weak. Howbeit, whereinsoever any is bold (I speak foolishly), I am bold also. Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I. Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool), I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths off. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one, thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Besides those things which are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not? If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern my infirmities.”9 The thoughtful and attentive perceive how much wisdom there is in these words. And even a man sound asleep must notice what a stream of eloquence flows through them.

4013 13. Further still, the educated man observes that those sections which the Greeks call kommata, and the clauses and periods of which I spoke a short time ago, being intermingled in the most beautiful variety, make up the whole form and features (so to speak) of that diction by which even the unlearned are delighted and affected. For, from the place where I commenced to quote, the passage consists of periods: the first the smallest possible, consisting of two members; for a period cannot have less than two members, though it may have more: “I say again, let no man think me a fool.” The next has three members: “if otherwise, yet as a fool receive me, that I may boast myself a little.” The third has four members: “That which I speak, I speak it not after the Lord, but as it were foolishly, in this confidence of boasting.” The fourth has two: “Seeing that many glory after the flesh, I will glory also.” And the fifth has two: “For ye suffer fools gladly, seeing ye yourselves are wise.” The sixth again has two members: “for ye suffer, if a man bring you into bondage.” Then follow three sections (caesa): “if a man devour you, if a man take of you, if a man exalt himself.” Next three clauses (membra): if “a man smite you on the face. I speak as concerning reproach, as though we had been weak.” Then is subjoined a period of three members: “Howbeit, whereinsoever any is bold (I speak foolishly), I am bold also.” After this, certain separate sections being put in the interrogatory form, separate sections are also given as answers, three to three: “Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I.” But a fourth section being put likewise in the interrogatory form, the answer is given not in another section (caesum) but in a clause (membrum):10 “Are they the ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool). I am more.” Then the next four sections are given continuously, the interrogatory form being most elegantly suppressed: “in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.” Next is interposed a short period; for, by a suspension of the voice, “of the Jews five times” is to be marked off as constituting one member, to which is joined the second, “received I forty stripes save one.” Then he returns to sections, and three are set down: “Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck.” Next comes a clause: “a night and a day I have been in the deep.” Next fourteen sections burst forth with a vehemence which is most appropriate: “In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren, in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.” After this comes in a period of three members: “Besides those things which are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.” And to this he adds two clauses in a tone of inquiry: “Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not?” In fine, this whole passage, as if panting for breath, winds up with a period of two members: “If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.” And I cannot sufficiently express how beautiful and delightful it is when after this outburst he rests himself, and gives the hearer rest, by interposing a slight narrative. For he goes on to say: “The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not.” And then he tells, very briefly the danger he had been in, and the way he escaped it.

4014 14. It would be tedious to pursue the matter further, or to point out the same facts in regard to other passages of Holy Scripture. Suppose had taken the further trouble, at least in regard to the passages I have quoted from the apostle’s writings, to point out figures of speech which are taught in the art of rhetoric? Is it not more likely that serious men would think I had gone too far, than that any of the studious would think I had done enough? All these things when taught by masters are reckoned of great value; great prices are paid for them, and the vendors puff them magniloquently. And I fear lest I too should smack of that puffery while thus descanting on matters of this kind. It was necessary, however, to reply to the ill-taught men who think our authors contemptible; not because they do not possess, but because they do not display, the eloquence which these men value so highly.

4015 15. But perhaps some one is thinking that I have selected the Apostle Paul because he is our great orator. For when he says, “Though I be rude in speech, yet not in knowledge,11 he seems to speak as if granting so much to his detractors, not as confessing that he recognized its truth. If he had said, “I am indeed rude in speech, but not in knowledge,” we could not in any way have put another meaning upon it. He did not hesitate plainly to assert his knowledge, because without it he could not have been the teacher of the Gentiles. And certainly if we bring forward anything of his as a model of eloquence, we take it from those epistles which even his very detractors, who thought his bodily presence weak and his speech contemptible, confessed to be weighty and powerful.12

I see, then, that I must say something about the eloquence of the prophets also, where many things are concealed under a metaphorical style, which the more completely they seem buried under figures of speech, give the greater pleasure when brought to light. In this place, however, it is my duty to select a passage of such a kind that I shall not be compelled to explain the matter, but only to commend the style. And I shall do so, quoting principally from the book of that prophet who says that he was a shepherd or herdsman, and was called by God from that occupation, and sent to prophesy to the people of God.13 I shall not, however, follow the Septuagint translators, who, being themselves under the guidance of the Holy Spirit in their translation, seem to have altered some passages with the view of directing the reader’s attention more particularly to the investigation of the spiritual sense; (and hence some passages are more obscure, because more figurative, in their translation;) but I shall follow the translation made from the Hebrew into Latin by the presbyter Jerome, a man thoroughly acquainted with both tongues.

4016 16. When, then, this rustic, or quondam rustic prophet, was denouncing the godless, the proud, the luxurious, and therefore the most neglectful of brotherly love, he called aloud, saying: “Woe to you who are at ease in Zion, and trust in the mountain of Samaria, who are heads and chiefs of the people, entering with pomp into the house of Israel! Pass ye unto Calneh, and see; and from thence go ye to Hamath the great; then go down to Gath of the Philistines, and to all the best kingdoms of these: is their border greater than your border? Ye that are set apart for the day of evil, and that come near to the seat of oppression; that lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch yourselves upon couches that eat the lamb of the flock, and the calves out of the midst of the herd; that chant to the sound of the viol. They thought that they had instruments of music like David; drinking wine in bowls, and anointing themselves with the costliest ointment: and they were not grieved for the affliction of Joseph.”14 Suppose those men who, assuming to be themselves learned and eloquent, despise our prophets as untaught and unskillful of speech, had been obliged to deliver a message like this, and to men such as these, would they have chosen to express themselves in any respect differently—those of them, at least, who would have shrunk from raving like madmen?

4017 17. For what is there that sober ears could wish changed in this speech? In the first place, the invective itself; with what vehemence it throws itself upon the drowsy senses to startle them into wakefulness: “Woe to you who are at ease in Zion, and trust in the mountains of Samaria, who are heads and chiefs of the people, entering with pomp into the house of Israel!” Next, that he may use the favors of God, who has bestowed upon them ample territory, to show their ingratitude in trusting to the mountain of Samaria, where idols were worshipped: “Pass ye unto Calneh,” he says, “and see; and from thence go ye to Hamath the great; then go down to Gath of the Philistines, and to all the best kingdoms of these: is their border greater than your border?” At the same time also that these things are spoken of, the style is adorned with names of places as with lamps, such as “Zion,” “Samaria,” “Calneh,” “Hamath the great,” and “Gath of the Philistines.” Then the words joined to these places are most appropriately varied: “ye are at ease,” “ye trust,” “pass on,” “go,” “descend.”

4018 18. And then the future captivity under an oppressive king is announced as approaching, when it is added: “Ye that are set apart for the day of evil, and come near to the seat of oppression.” Then are subjoined the evils of luxury: “ye that lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch yourselves upon couches; that eat the lamb from the flock, and the calves out of the midst of the herd.” These six clauses form three periods of two members each. For he does not say: Ye who are set apart for the day of evil, who come near to the seat of oppression, who sleep upon beds of ivory, who stretch yourselves upon couches, who eat the lamb from the flock, and calves out of the herd.” If he had so expressed it, this would have had its beauty: six separate clauses running on, the same pronoun being repeated each time, and each clause finished by a single effort of the speaker’s voice. But it is more beautiful as it is, the clauses being joined in pairs under the same pronoun, and forming three sentences, one referring to the prophecy of the captivity: “Ye that are set apart for the day of evil, and come near the seat of oppression;” the second to lasciviousness: “ye that lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch yourselves upon couches;” the third to gluttony: “who eat the lamb from the flock, and the calves out of the midst of the herd.” So that it is at the discretion of the speaker whether he finish each clause separately and make six altogether, or whether he suspend his voice at the first, the third, and the fifth, and by joining the second to the first, the fourth to the third, and the sixth to the fifth, make three most elegant periods of two members each: one describing the imminent catastrophe; another, the lascivious couch; and the third, the luxurious table.

4019 19. Next he reproaches them with their luxury in seeking pleasure for the sense of hearing. And here, when he had said, “Ye who chant to the sound of the viol,” seeing that wise men may practise music wisely, he, with wonderful skill of speech, checks the flow of his invective, and not now speaking to, but of, these men, and to show us that we must distinguish the music of the wise from the music of the voluptuary, he does not say, “Ye who chant to the sound of the viol, and think that ye have instruments of music like David;” but he first addresses to themselves what it is right the voluptuaries should hear, “Ye who chant to the sound of the viol;” and then, turning to others, he intimates that these men have not even skill in their art: “they thought that they had instruments of music like David; drinking wine in bowls, and anointing themselves with the costliest ointment.” These three clauses are best pronounced when the voice is suspended on the first two members of the period, and comes to a pause on the third.

4020 20. But now as to the sentence which follows all these: “and they were not grieved for the affliction of Joseph.” Whether this be pronounced continuously as one clause, or whether with more elegance we hold the words, “and they were not grieved,” suspended on the voice, and then add, “for the affliction of Joseph,” so as to make a period of two members; in any case, it is a touch of marvelous beauty not to say,” and they were not grieved for the affliction of their brother;” but to put Joseph for brother, so as to indicate brothers in general by the proper name of him who stands out illustrious from among his brethren, both in regard to the injuries he suffered and the good return he made. And, indeed, I do not know whether this figure of speech, by which Joseph is put for brothers in general, is one of those laid down in that art which I learnt and used to teach. But how beautiful it is, and how it comes home to the intelligent reader, it is useless to tell any one who does not himself feel it.

4021 21. And a number of other points bearing on the laws of eloquence could be found in this passage which I have chosen as an example. But an intelligent reader will not be so much instructed by carefully analysing it as kindled by reciting it with spirit. Nor was it composed by man’s art and care, but it flowed forth in wisdom and eloquence from the Divine mind; wisdom not aiming at eloquence, yet eloquence not shrinking from wisdom. For if, as certain very eloquent and acute men have perceived and said, the rules which are laid down in the art of oratory could not have been observed, and noted, and reduced to system, if they had not first had their birth in the genius of orators, is it wonderful that they should be found in the messengers of Him who is the author of all genius? Therefore let us acknowledge that the canonical writers are not only wise but eloquent also, with an eloquence suited to a character and position like theirs.

Augustin: Doctrine 3050