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Augustinianum

Volume 50, Issue 2, December 2010

Anastasios G. Maràs
Pages 409-421

The Issue of Rhetoric for Christian Apologists in the Second Century

Viewing rhetoric as a product of pagan culture, the Apologists take a negative stance toward it. For Justin the art of persuasion may be useful in all areas of public life but it is useless when it comes to the metaphysical truth of Christianity. The strength to teach or interpret Christianity, Justin posits, comes from God, not rhetoric. For his part, Tatian dismisses forensic rhetoric on the grounds that it often subverts Christian ethics by defending injustice, sycophancy and money-making, in effect promoting that which is not virtuous. As for Theophilus, he places greater value on the substance and meaning of Christian purposes and less on the orator’s virtuosity and linguistic means of expression.

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