Augustine (354–430 ad)



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History of Rhetoric and Christian Tradition: Annotated Bibliography

Subgroup Organizer: Kristine Johnson, Purdue University

Contributors:

Kilian McCurrie, Columbia College

Jeff Ringer, University of New Hampshire
Augustine (354–430 AD)
Anderson, Floyd D. “De doctrina christiana 2.18.28: The Convergence of Athens and Jerusalem.” Wertheimer 102–4.

Anderson nominates the following as the most important passage in De doctrina christiana: “Every good and worthy Christian should understand that wherever they may find truth, it emanates from their Lord” (2.18.28). Anderson argues that this passage highlights the convergence between sacred truth and secular learning that Augustine engendered.


Augustine. Confessions. Trans. John K. Ryan. New York: Doubleday, 1960.

Ryan’s translation gives a clear and accurate rendering of the Confessions. His method is first to determine what Augustine thought, and then to state those thoughts in clear English. He resists the temptation to merely paraphrase or substitute current expressions that only vaguely correspond to those that Augustine set down.


Bakhtin, Mikhail. The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays. Ed. Michael Holquist. Trans. Vern W. McGee. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1986.

Bakhtin’s key term, utterance, refers to oral communication. Like speech-act theorists, but unlike the structuralist, he makes a careful distinction between mere linguistic units (words, phrases and sentences) and units of speech communication – utterances. An utterance is defined and recognized by the change of speaking subjects, not by grammatical conventions (71 ff). By hearing utterance as always being part of a larger dialogue, the Confessions becomes an integral site of textual and intertextual discourses.

Bakhtin along with Walter Ong have made the point that Augustine operated in the midst of a culture that, although literate, was still dominated by orality (135). This insight helps me hear and see the written discourse represented by Confessions as living, situated, human speech, still having currency today.
Bourke, Vernon J. Augustine’s Love of Wisdom: An Introspective Philosophy. West

Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press, 1993.

Cicero’s Hortensius was a pivotal text for Augustine, leading him ultimately to the garden in Milan where he experienced his conversion. All the alternatives he explored were measured against the Hortensius. While only fragments remain of Cicero’s text, Bourke’s summary helps us get a sense of why it inspired Augustine. It provided the philosophical practice that established the ideal orator as possessing wisdom and eloquence, style and substance, philosophy and rhetoric. Augustine would never abandon these unities.
Brown, Peter. Augustine of Hippo. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967.

Brown’s work seems to be one of the more frequently cited of Augustine’s biographies. His approach is decidedly chronological, and he divides Augustine’s life into six parts. What is perhaps more useful, however, is the fact that Brown provides a descriptive title for each chapter, such as “Ambrose,” “The Confessions,” “Education,” and “The Platonists.” This makes contextualizing the different stages of Augustine’s life relatively easy.

Burke, Kenneth. The Rhetoric of Religion: Studies in Logology. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1970. If the study of logology is the study of words about words, as Burke defines it, then his second chapter in Rhetoric of Religion, “Verbal Action in St. Augustine’s Confessions,” is logological indeed. Burke focuses heavily on words that share the Latin root vert, words such as adverse, perverse, revert, and, of course, convert. Burke sees Augustine’s conversion as the thematic center of Confessions, and the idea of conversion likewise serves as the center of Burke’s discussion of verbal actions. A dense read, but one that is full of provocative ideas.
Burrell, David B. Friendship and Ways to Truth. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame

Press, 2000.

A philosophical and theological, yet very personal, reflection on what makes for friendship. Augustine, Aristotle, Plato, Lonergan, and many others come into play in Burrell’s argument that friendship requires an inter–subjectivity that is impossible without an understanding, based on personal experience, of faith as a way of knowing the truth. By engaging Plato and Augustine, Burrell demonstrates the importance of dialogue as a spiritual and intellectual exercise that is mutually confirming. In Books IX and VII of the Confessions, for example, Burrell compares Augustine’s dialogic ascent in Book IX with his mother, Monica, with the account of his own ascent in Book VII.
Colish, Marcia L. The Mirror of Language: A Study in the Medieval Theory of Knowledge. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1968.

Colish devotes the first chapter, “Augustine: The Expression of the Word,” to a consideration of Augustine’s theory of language as it relates to his rhetorical training and ecclesiastical duty. Early in the chapter, Colish analyzes similarities and differences among Aristotelian, Ciceronian, and Augustinian theories of rhetoric. She then works through Confessions, using Augustine’s spiritual autobiography as a jumping-off point to discuss other writings, including De doctrina christiana, De dialectica, and De magistro. Her goal here is to approach an understanding of Augustine’s theory of language and how it relates to his vocation as Christian preacher. Because of her interest in language, Colish focuses heavily on what she refers to as Augustine’s “redeemed rhetoric.”


Condon, Matthew G. “The Unnamed and the Defaced: The Limits of Rhetoric in Augustine’s Confessions.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 69.1 (2001): 43–63.

This is a fascinating and eloquent essay that, unfortunately, has little to do with the limits of rhetoric. Condon, however, does explore the way Augustine leaves certain people unnamed (his father, his brother, influential friends) while naming others who had direct association with the Latin Church. He contends that Augustine intended these elisions purposefully in order to distance himself rhetorically from his un-churched past. The names Augustine included, argues Condon, were intended to serve as an appeal to the Church, with which Augustine wanted to be associated. Condon’s use of the term rhetoric here seems to be primarily one of textual choice; that is, what did Augustine decide to include in his Confessions, and toward what end?


Erickson, Keith V. “The Significance of ‘Doctrina’ in Augustine’s ‘De Doctrina Christiana.’”

Wertheimer 105–7.

Recognizing the difficulty scholars have had in laying claim to a unified theme for De doctrina christiana, Erickson nominates the term doctrina itself as the most significant “passage” that unifies Augustine’s work. The term, with its ties to teaching, allows Christian preachers both to learn and to communicate scriptural truth, and it establishes cohesion between the seemingly disparate parts of De doctrina—the early books that emphasize scriptural interpretation, and book IV, which deals directly with rhetoric.
Fulkerson, Gerald. “Augustine’s Attitude Toward Rhetoric in De doctrina christiana: The Significance of 2.37.55.” Wertheimer 108–11.

Fulkerson points to 2.37.55 as the most significant passage in De doctrina because it indicates that the argument in Book IV begins where Book II leaves off. Departing somewhat from the other panelists, Fulkerson argues that, for Augustine, the study of rhetoric was relatively inconsequential when compared with the study of scripture. That is not to say that rhetoric was unimportant; rather, Augustine conceived of rhetoric as purely utilitarian in that it could help Christian preachers communicate the gospel. Rhetoric should never take the place of scriptural study, though.


Johnson, W. R. “Isocrates Flowering: The Rhetoric of Augustine.” Philosophy and Rhetoric (1976): 217–31.

Johnson’s contention is that Augustine’s theory and practice of rhetoric places him more within the tradition of humanist rhetoric, along with of Isocrates, Cicero, et al., than in the Western philosophic tradition, a la Aristotle, Aquinas, and Kant. Unlike some other of Augustine’s commentators, then, Johnson looks more to Augustine’s roots than to the effects he had upon Christendom, rhetoric, and Western civilization. His discussion of Augustine’s theory of rhetoric in section 4 aims at culling generalizations from Confessions, City of God, City of Man, and De doctrina. He also has an interesting discussion of Augustine’s role in the democratization of literacy.


King, Andrew A. “St. Augustine’s Doctrine of Participation as a Metaphysic of Persuasion.”

Wertheimer 112–15.

Quoting from a passage at the beginning of Book 3 in De doctrina, King argues that undergirding Augustine’s union of rhetoric and Christianity is a neo-Platonic view of participation. The doctrine of participation, as King refers to it, suggests that, in order to understand human and divine language, we must, because of our imperfections, commit ourselves to interpreting those texts. In short, we must participate in the texts that make up doctrine. King compares Augustinian participation to Burke’s theory of identification and persuasion.
Leupin, Alexandre. Fiction and Incarnation: Rhetoric, Theology, Literature in the Middle

Ages. Trans. David Laatsch. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2003.

By focusing on the novelty of the dogma of the Incarnation, Leupin offers a wide-ranging investigation of the relationship between Christian discourse and literature from Roman antiquity to the fourteenth century. While Augustine rejected his early encounters with the Second Sophistic, he becomes a champion for rhetoric re-visioned in light of the Incarnation. Leupin characterizes Augustine’s Confessions as entirely within the logic of the Christian epistemological break, but also breaking new territory by combining particular elements of bios with the example of the Christian who is always above and beyond his life. This new writing requires, according to Leupin, a new attention to ethos. Augustine must face the questions of his credibility: “For although I cannot prove to them that my confessions are true, at least I shall be believed by those whose ears are opened to my charity” (X,3).


Marshall, Donald G. “Making Letters Speak: Interpreter as Orator in Augustine’s De

Doctrina Christiana.” Religion and Literature 24.2 (1992): 1–17.

Marshall concludes his essay with a line that does well in summing up the spirit of his argument: “Whatever the limiting realities of practice, in the ideal, the preacher’s speaking is the fashioning of a community which arises out of the exposition of a text, a text whose inner substance comes to be shared by the faithful through his humble speaking” (14). Marshall, responding to Mazzeo’s argument that Augustine’s is a rhetoric of silence (see below), considers Augustine’s largely verbal and active role as bishop—as preacher. Exploring binaries such as public vs. private and action vs. contemplation, Marshall contends that at the heart of Augustine’s life and thought is the binary of rhetoric vs. philosophy. But these opposites seemingly are conjoined by Augustine’s conception of teaching and preaching, which must be informed by hermeneutical and philosophical inspection of sacred texts.


Mazzeo, Joseph Anthony. “St. Augustine’s Rhetoric of Silence.” Journal of the History of

Ideas 23 (1962): 175–96.

This is a fascinating article in which Mazzeo theorizes the role of silence in Augustine’s view of rhetoric. Mazzeo sets up his argument via a consideration of the way that Augustine’s theory of signs and words suggests a progression from word to reality, from the temporal to the eternal, and from talk to silence. In other words, at the core of rhetorical persuasion for Augustine is not the spoken, conventional word, but the eternal, ideal, unspoken word of the “inner teacher,” which is Christ. Mazzeo uses as examples two passages from Confessions, the one where Augustine sees Ambrose reading silently, the other where Augustine reads silently at the moment of his conversion. This essay has interesting implications for addressing the question of what Augustine defined as persuasive.


McGee, Michael C. “Thematic Reduplication in Christian Rhetoric.” Quarterly Journal of

Speech 56.2 (1970): 196–204.

McGee argues that Augustine’s union of rhetoric with Christianity changed rhetoric. Working against common notions that Christian rhetoric merely borrowed (he seems to prefer the wonderfully nuanced term, “bastardized”) classical rhetoric principles, McGee suggests that post-Augustine rhetoric emphasizes the content of what is preached more than the relationship one has to his or her audience. This is because, for Augustine and other Christian rhetoricians/preachers, proclaiming the Christian message is more a question of truth than probability. Christian rhetoricians are teachers, not persuaders. The fusion of Christian and rhetorical traditions, then, effected a meaningful (and not merely formal) change upon rhetoric itself.

Murphy, James J. “The Metarhetorics of Plato, Augustine, and McLuhan: A Pointing Essay.”

Philosophy and Rhetoric 4 (1971): 201–14.

Murphy calls this a “pointing essay” because, as he writes, he’s delving into “some possibly new realms of curiosity” (201). This new realm is that of metarhetorics, or the study of the first principles upon which rhetoric is based. Metarhetoric, argues Murphy, is epistemology’s counterpart and is “what a rhetorician needs to know in order to be a rhetorician” (202). Murphy’s discussion of Augustine is both provocative and diverse, covering not only the expected rhetorical text (De doctrina), but also the lesser-known Instructing the Ignorant and Concerning the Teacher. Augustine’s metarhetoric begins from his understanding of signs in relation to things, and carries into his views on persuasion in relation to the hearer and the speaker.


———. “St. Augustine and the Debate about a Christian Rhetoric.” Quarterly Journal of

Speech 46 (1960): 400–410.

Murphy argues that Augustine’s De doctrina christiana can only be understood in the context of debates prevalent in the church at the time. Murphy sketches a historical account of what he describes as a dilemma of the fourth century church: “the problem of defining the intellectual base for a culture which would permit the Church to perform its duty of leading men to salvation” (401). This article is cited frequently.


Pelikan, Jaroslav. Divine Rhetoric: The Sermon on the Mount as Message and as Model in

Augustine, Chrysostom and Luther. Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2001.

A well-known theologian, Pelikan is also quite interested in rhetoric. He devotes a chapter to Augustine as a way of introduction to the saint. What is most interesting about Pelikan’s approach, however, is that he divides his discussion of the Sermon on the Mount into sections following each of the Aristotelian classes of appeals (ethos, pathos, logos). He then subdivides each of these sections by individual—one for Luther, one for Chrysostom, and one, of course, for Augustine. Pelikan here draws specific connections between Augustine’s thought and Jesus’ most famous sermon.


Press, Gerald A. “Doctrina in Augustin’e De doctrina christiana.” Philosophy and Rhetoric

17.2 (1984): 98–120.

Press argues that Augustine’s use of the word doctrina is purposeful rhetorically. Because Augustine plays on the multiple meanings of the word as teaching, doctrine, the arts, and learning, he is able to make his work applicable to all who read it. Press also argues that the Christian culture Augustine largely set in motion is as rhetorical a culture—and maybe even more rhetorical—than the pagan one he sought to challenge. In terms of the history of rhetoric, this is a bold statement—the medieval period is often skipped over in terms of rhetoric.
Sutherland, Christine Mason. “Reforms of Style: St. Augustine and the Seventeenth

Century.” Rhetoric Society Quarterly 21.1 (1991): 26–37.

Focusing mostly on style, Sutherland compares the views of language espoused by Augustine with that of the seventeenth century scientists Francis Bacon, Joseph Glanvill, and Thomas Sprat. Sutherland recognizes the epistemological and cosmological variance between these disparate figures, but concludes that, because they share similar principles of truth that stand in contradistinction to societal trends they oppose, they also share similar—and similarly positive—views toward rhetoric.
Troup, Calvin L. “Augustine the African: Critic of Roman Colonialist Discourse.” Rhetoric

Society Quarterly 25 (1995): 91-106.

Responding to the rising importance of postcolonial theory—and to brief, often under-substantiated criticism that Augustine had imperialistic tendencies—Troup argues that Augustine was an early critic of colonialism and imperialism. Specifically, Troup considers the ways in which Augustine worked against colonialist discourse. In doing so, he devotes individual sections to Augustine in relation to imperialism, to tolerance of others, and to the role language played in Roman colonialism or North Africa.


———. Temporality, Eternity, and Wisdom: Rhetoric of Augustine’s Confessions.

Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1999.

Troup reads the Confessions as enacting through its form a dynamic relation between speaker and listener that suggests a core insight of Augustinian theology and rhetoric – the Incarnation as the “eternal Word made flesh.” Troup illustrates Augustine’s view that rhetorical theory cannot properly exist apart from conscientious rhetorical practice. Troup argues that when Augustine converts, the semiotic integration of time and eternity in the incarnate Christ motivates him to espouse a substantial, practical alternative to the Second Sophistic that is nonetheless a form of rhetoric—a Christian rhetoric. Troup shows that rather than solving the problems of time and contingency, Augustine's embrace of the incarnation intensifies his preoccupation with their relationship, particularly in human discourse. Rhetoric comes to play a crucial integrative role in Augustine's well-documented pursuit of wisdom through discourse, thought, and life. Presenting the Confessions as a compelling source of starting points toward serious contemporary thinking, Troup maintains that the text raises that correspond in interesting ways to postmodern concerns. He connects these with the conscious development of rhetorical coordinates that Augustine believes is authorized by Christianity's central event and defining doctrine—the incarnation of Jesus Christ.
Wertheimer, Molly, ed. “Panel on the Most Significant Passage in Saint Augustine’s De

Doctrina Christiana: Five Nominations.” Rhetoric Society Quarterly 15.3–4 (1985):

101–18.


The five short essays in this collection originally were given as talks at the November 1984 Speech Communication Association in Chicago. As the title of the panel makes clear, they argued for what they thought was the most significant passage in Augustine’s De doctrina christiana. See Anderson, Erickson, Fulkerson, King, and Wiethoff.
Wiethoff, William E. “The Merits of De Doctrina Christiana: 4.11.26.” Wertheimer

116-18.


Wiethoff contends that 4.11.26 is the most significant passage in De Doctrina. He does so because this passage highlights the restrictions Augustine envisioned for rhetoric; it demonstrates Augustine’s desire to, as it were, practice what he preached; and, it alludes to the debate Augustine was having with Pelagius, who was accused of heresy. This passage is significant for Wiethoff because it suggests that Augustine held a consistent view of rhetoric that united internal and external influences.
Yarbrough, Stephen R. “The Love of Invention: Augustine, Davidson, and the Discourse of

Unifying Belief.” Rhetoric Society Quarterly 30.1 (2000): 29–46.

Yarbrough places Augustine and Donald Davidson, a twentieth-century postmodern philosopher whose ideas have influenced post-process composition theories, into dialogue with each other. Specifically, Yarbrough explores the role of interpretation and charity in Davidson’s theory of triangulation in interpersonal communication and Augustine’s theories of meaning as it relates to reading scripture. For both Davidson and Augustine, belief is central to the discovery and invention of meaning—we believe that what others say about the world has a ring of truth in it. Belief, then, is central to communication.

The Scottish Reformation (1750–1833)
Blair, Hugh. Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres in Three Volumes. Second Edition

Corrected. London: W. Strahan, 1885.

Two lectures are particularly relevant for preaching: Lecture XXIX, “Eloquence of the Pulpit,” and Lecture XXX, “Examination of Bishop Atterbury’s Sermon.” Lecture XXIX offers an explicit discussion of homiletics—the advantages and disadvantages of preaching (compared with other forms of rhetoric and oratory), preaching eloquence, the end of preaching, and the form of a sermon. While Blair’s evaluation of Atterbury is not theological, it is an interesting example of Blair’s rhetorical analysis of another preacher.
Blair, Hugh. Sermons by Hugh Blair, One of the Ministers of the High Church, and Professor of

Rhetoric and Belles Lettres in the University of Edinburgh: To Which is Affixed The Life

and Character of the Author, by James Finlayson, D.D. London: William Tegg, 1847.

This volume is the compilation of all five volumes of Blair’s published sermons—91 in total. James Finlayson wrote a biographical introduction to this volume that reviews Blair’s life and work. This volume is practically very useful because it has both a table of contents listing the sermons and an index of subjects. Although readers today can have no idea how Blair sounded or what he looked like when he preached, reading his sermons is an excellent start.


Brinton, Alan. “Hugh Blair and the True Eloquence.” Rhetoric Society Quarterly 22.3 (1992):

30–42.


This article addresses the “evangelical complaint” that Blair’s sermons are not eloquent or pathetic. Blair himself defines true eloquence as something that rises the passions, and he indicts British preachers for lacking eloquence—lacking pathetic appeal and resorting to dry reason. However, many read Blair’s sermons as dry, rational, and mechanical. In other words, Blair has often been criticized for not practicing (preaching) what he preaches (lectures). Brinton argues that Blair is not pathetic in his sermons in the classical sense; however, his sermons are subtly pathetic—in a way that was appropriate to his preaching context.
Brown, Callum. The Social History of Religion in Scotland Since 1730. London: Methuen, 1987.

The chapter, “From Religious Monopoly to Religious Pluralism,” traces the rise and fall of the Moderate movement in the Church of Scotland. Brown’s discussion of the Moderates is helpful because he discusses their views on several planes: the theological, political, social, and philosophical; he says, “though probably in the minority amongst the clergy, the Moderates had powerful support and were well organized, and controlled the Established Church until 1833” (30). Brown traces the beginning of the Moderate group to preachers in rural parishes, who by 1750 emerged as the Moderate Party in the Church of Scotland.


Buchan, John and George Adam Smith. The Kirk in Scotland 1560–1929. Edinburgh: Hodder

and Stoughton, 1930.

This book was commissioned by the Church of Scotland in order to give a broad sketch of the history of the Church. The years between 1560 and 1929 were full of change, dissent, and theological questions in the Church, and this book provides a comprehensive—although sometimes cursory—overview of those years. The book is particularly interesting and useful because it was written by the Church and is constructed as a narrative that traces the “steady simplifying and purifying process” through which the Church went. The book describes Moderatism as a unifying movement after the secessions that took over 100,000 worshippers out of the Church of Scotland by 1766. Moderatism, which was largely the policy of the Church between the middle of the eighteenth century and the middle of the nineteenth century, brought common sense, rationalism, intellectualism, and some continuity to the Church of Scotland.
Campbell, George. The Philosophy of Rhetoric. New Edition. London: William Tegg, 1850.

Although Campbell addresses preaching at many points the Philosophy of Rhetoric, his most complete discussion is in Book I, Chapter X. In this chapter, Campbell addresses the speaker, audience, subject, occasion, and end of various forms of oratory, including preaching. Campbell’s discussion of ethos (he does not use the term ethos, however) is especially interesting with respect to the religious climate in which he was writing; Campbell harkens back to Quintillian and calls for a good man preaching.


Campbell, George. Lectures on Systematic Theology and Pulpit Eloquence.

The Lectures are a great companion to the Philosophy of Rhetoric. In the lectures, which were first delivered at Marischal College in 1772–1773 and posthumously published, Campbell gives detailed attention to the preaching situation: voice control, vocabulary, gestures, and posture. The Lectures also make bold statements about preaching that indicate the ways in which Campbell was trying to distinguish himself from the Anglican church; in one notable passage, he asserts that the sermon may be more important—but certainly equally important—to the sacraments in worship.


Cunningham, David. Faithful Persuasion: In Aid of a Rhetoric of Christian Theology. Notre

Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1990.

Cunningham, a theologian, offers useful insights into the relationship between theology and rhetoric. For Cunningham, all theology is persuasion that depends on classical rhetorical concepts: ethos, pathos, and logos. In this model, preaching is also persuasion. Cunningham’s conception of what constitutes “faithful persuasion”—theological rhetoric that is both faithful to the listener and to God—is especially useful for making connections between preaching and rhetoric.

Drummond, Andrew L. and James Bulloch. The Scottish Church 1688–1843. Edinburgh: The

Saint Andrew Press, 1973.

Drummond and Bulloch survey the Church of Scotland after the time of John Knox. They trace the beginning of Moderatism to the 1740s when Hutcheson and Leechman were teaching at Glasdow University; Alexander Carlyle noted that “a better taste and greater liberality of sentiment were introduced [by Hutcheson and Leechman] among the clergy in the Western provinces of Scotland” (56). These scholars and preacher did subscribe to the articles of the church, but they were hesitant to preach their truths—they thought that human nature was capable of obeying moral law. In the chapter, “The Reign of the Moderates,” Drummond and Bulloch discuss the “Manifesto of the Moderates,” created in 1752 by Robertson. Robertson would be leader of the assembly from 1762–1780, and he believed in the power of the human intellect and wanted to make the Church part of the world—the faith had to “hold the loyalty of men in the changed world of their time” (85). Both Blair and Campbell are discussed as preachers and professors (but not as rhetoricians) in the chapter, “A New World of Thought.”


Edney, Clarence W. “Campbell’s Lectures on Pulpit Eloquence.” Speech Monographs 19

(1952): 1–10.

This article is of the few pieces of scholarship on the Lectures. Edney’s article takes the form of an expanded list that details the reasons why the Lectures deserve more scholarly attention than they have been given. They are, in Edney’s words, “a decidedly practical explanation of the rudiments of homiletics” (3). The primary reason they should be given attention, according to Edney, is that “they provide an interesting and instructive explanation of the adaptation of the principles of rhetoric to the preaching situation” (Edney 1). Edney’s arguments are not necessarily complex or original, but they do offer a good introduction to an overlooked part of Campbell’s body of work.
Golden, James L. “Hugh Blair: Minister of St. Giles.” The Quarterly Journal of Speech 38

(1952): 155–160.

Golden’s article asks and answers two questions about Hugh Blair as a preacher: How effective was he as a speaker? What rhetorical devices did he employ? Golden is clearly an admirer of Blair, and the answer to the first question is a resounding yes; he places Blair at the forefront of both the Moderate movement in the Church of Scotland and eighteenth-century homiletics. Golden gives an interesting, if cursory, discussion of the rhetorical devices that Blair used his own sermons. Unlike Brinton, Golden asserts that Blair did follow his own homiletic prescriptions, although several historical sources do suggest that Blair did not preach with an especially distinctive or expressive style of delivery. This article is short and rather broad in scope, but it does offer information about Blair’s place in the Church and the Enlightenment.
Grant, David McMurray. “The Homiletic Rhetoric of Hugh Blair.” Diss. Stanford U, 1952.

Like the Walzer book on Campbell, this dissertation on Blair (a dissertation in communications) offers interesting analyses of sermons, but it does not contextualize them. Grant places Blair in the Scottish enlightenment and tries to extract a theory of homiletics from his Lecutres on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres and his published sermons.


Schmitz, Robert M. “Dr. Johnson and Blair’s Sermons.” Modern Language Notes 60.4

(1945): 268–70.

This brief article discusses the events surrounding William Strahan’s publishing Blair’s sermons. A note from Dr. Johnson helped to draw Strahan into a publishing venture—collections of Blair’s sermons—that would eventually become tremendously profitable. Schmitz reprints an entire letter from Blair to Strahan in which Blair discusses the revisions that he made to the sermons for publication; as a professor of Rhetoric and Belles Lettres, he paid a great deal of attention to composition and style—more than is normally paid to sermons.


Schmitz, Robert Morell. Hugh Blair. Morningside Heights, NY: King’s Crown Press, 1948.

This biography of Hugh Blair makes good use of Blair’s original texts, especially his sermons and letters. Schmitz places Blair with the Moderates: “they attended the theater, played cards, and danced; they perverted church government by opposing the congregational choice of ministers; dallied with heresy by often preaching Marcus Aurelius and classic morality instead of Christ and Calvinistic doctrine. After charges by the Church against Hume, Blair sided with Hume and wrote a pamphlet in his defense. Schmitz’s discussion of Blair’s years at the High Church at St. Giles is useful because it describes the way Blair tries to incorporate his theological and philosophical positions into his sermons.


Scott, J. Blake. “John Witherspoon’s Normalizing Pedagogy of Ethos.” Rhetoric Review 16

(1997): 58–75.

The project of Scott’s article is to give a fuller history of John Witherspoon, beyond what Nan Johnson and Thomas P. Miller have done. Scott wants to situate Witherspoon in the “belletristic, educated, and elite bourgeoisie of Scotland and America” (59); he argues in the article that Witherspoon combined the classical notion of a good man speaking well with the belletristic ideal of a learned man. This article, although it concentrates on Witherspoon, is useful because it offers a good discussion of Enlightenment Scotland, the Church of Scotland, and the Moderate movement, where Scott locates both Campbell and Blair.
Walzer, Arthur E. George Campbell: Rhetoric in the Age of Enlightenment. Albany: State

Univeristy of New York Press, 2003.



Walzer places Campbell historically as part of the Scottish Enlightenment, but he does not overtly discuss the religious climate of this enlightenment. The book does draw some helpful connections among Locke, Hume, and Campbell as well as drawing connections between Campbell’s rhetorical theory and rhetorical practice. Walzer makes an interesting point about the nature of Campbell’s published sermons: it is unlikely (give the exceptional nature of the situations that they respond to) that they [the published sermons] are representative of the sermons that Campbell offered as part of his regular ministerial duties” (121). At the same time, Walzer notes, they always demonstrate “his effort always to present himself as reconciling the claims of truth and tolerance, of tradition and modernity” (122).

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