THE LATIN CHURCH FATHERS
Philip E. Satterthwaite
Tyndale House, Cambridge, England
The Latin Church Fathers show an extensive knowledge of the con ventions of classical rhetoric. Some of them had been professional rhetoricians, and all of them seem to have had some rhetorical train ing.1 However, their Christianity affected the use they made of clas sical rhetoric, and led them to question some of its conventions. Much of this essay, therefore, deals with the confluence of Christian belief (and in particular, the thought-forms and language of the Bible) and classical rhetoric in the Latin Fathers.
The next two sections, following a classical theoretical division, evaluates the Latin Fathers under the headings of inventio and dispositio (choice of material and its arrangement) and elocutio (style),2 noting continuities and discontinuities in their use of classical rhetorical conventions. The third major section discusses the attempts of the Latin Fathers to formulate their own views of the role of the Christian orator. The main writers considered are Tertullian (ca. AD 165–220), Cyprian (d. 258), Lactantius (ca. 260-ca. 330), Ambrose (ca. 337 397), Jerome (ca. 347–419), and Augustine (354–430). In view of the enormous quantity of their writings, which include theological and apologetic treatises, biblical commentaries, sermons and letters, this essay can only be a brief and selective introduction to the topic.
1 See, e.g., H. von Campenhausen, Fathers of the Latin Church (ET London: A. & C.
Black, 1964); H. I. Marrou, Histoire de “'éducation dans I'antiquité (Paris: du Seuil, 1948),
2 Cic. Inv. 1:7:9; Quint. Inst. 6:4:1.