Claims that St. A's most significant contribution is the convergence of the Hellenic and Hebraic traditions. "the Augustinian program joins eloquence to religion, proclaims the value of secular and profane learning to theology, and seeks to embrace both sacred truths and secular knowledge within the unified grasp of wisdom." 2. 18. 28 : "Every good and worthy Christian should understand that wherever they may find truth, it emanates from their Lord." He adapts previous methods by leaving out that which is un-acceptable and building on that which highlights the sacred. Epistomologically, men do not invent or create truth, they discover the truth of God inside them. Therefore, history, philosophy, dialectic, rhetoric are not secular or human--they come from God.
His position is that De Doctrina is principally "exigetical interpretation of the Bible" and a "neoclassical rhetoric designed to serve the Christian Paideia." Doctrina: the term unifies, signifies, and orients; it is the key term learning as a cultural ideal. Instruction, teaching, doctrine, the arts, knowledge. This as a replacement for the Greek Paideia, the values of which enraged the Christians. St. A's Doctrina gave voice to the discovery and spread of Christian truth.
The claim: that Augustine relegates preceptive rhetoric to an inconsequential role in the training of the Christian preacher. When Augustine removes invention, he reduces rhetoric to style. Further, Augustine writes that the methods should not be studied excessively. He replaces the precepts, with imitation only. "Preparation for a work so important [as Christian preaching] was not to be interrupted, however benignly, by any study that was not, by strictest interpretation, useful."
"Man's estrangement from God means that he must struggle to attain knowledge. Because struggle is mandated, the opacity of signs, the obscurity of symbols, the ambiguity of language, and the figurative meaning of texts are logical necessities. They are the scaffolding that the active learner must climb to participate in universal and divine knowledge. Finally, through the resolution of obscurity, the learner becomes deeply involved with and personally committed to the divine meanings as they are encountered." The doctrine of participation, which undergirds his theory of signs and interpretation. Divine revelation did not come from a privileged vision--it came from canonical text and authoritative hearsay of prophets and inspired teachers. These sources must be participated in! The preacher must participate in order to be self-persuaded. On the corporeal level, we participate with veiled reality, the opaque world of natural and artificial signs; on the psychic level we order, judge, read coherence out of the signs; on the spiritual level, we share in God's immutable truth--participating in divine Being itself-- the activity of the soul. Signs are often opaque--they must be interpreted to be understood. All readers are active seekers--they must participate in holy doctrine. The separation, imperfection is good--it forces us to work through the inspiration such that we gain personal commitment. For his theory of signs: see "Concerning the Teacher," in Basic Writings of Saint Augustine , ed. Whitney Oates NY:Random House, 1950 (famous dialogue with his fifteen year old son, Adeodatus) William Wiethoff 4. 11. 26 Where St. A. identifies the most important concern of Christian eloquence as clarifying obscure points of doctrine: to teach.