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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.


In this essay, I offer a sympathetic reading of the rhetoric(s) of Augustine’s Confessions. First, as a historian of rhetoric I am interested in what Augustine’s narrative can tell us about the theory and practice of rhetoric in the late classical period and the early Christian era. From this perspective, I am interested in exploring what Augustine discloses about the rhetoric he learned in the provincial Roman schools, and taught at Carthage, Rome, and Milan. Second, I am interested in Augustine’s own work on rhetoric, especially his De Doctrina Christiana, most of which he composed during the period right before he began the Confessions. In particular, I am interested in how the rhetorical ethics that emerges from Augustine’s formal treatment of Biblical exegesis and preaching, and which distinguishes Augustine’s rhetoric from that of his classical predecessors, can illuminate our interpretation of the Confessions. Finally, I am interested in exploring how the Confessions itself works as a rhetorical text— that is, as a discourse addressed to an audience for the purpose of influence. In particular, I am interested in exploring the specific pastoral functions served by Augustine’s narrative.



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Augustinian Studies



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