Historical Rhetorics/Rhetoric's Medieval Resurgence/Erickson, Keith V. "The Significance of ''Doctrina'' in Augustine's ''De Doctrina Christiana.''
Erickson, Keith V. "The Significance of Doctrina in Augustine's De Doctrina Christiana. Rhetoric Society Quarterly 15.3-4 (1985): 105-108.[edit | edit source]
Erickson argues that De Doctrina Christiana (the untranslated title) can be read on many levels, and that far from being a simple how-to book of instruction, Augustine is looking to speak to multiple audiences with more subtlety and rhetorical awareness than any one of the four books included might suggest.
To unveil this more significant purpose and explain the cohesion of the text, Erickson calls attention to the single word in the title doctrina, and explores this word and its multilayered meanings in order to define De Doctrina Christiana as “a neoclassical rhetoric designed to serve the Christian Paideia” (105).
Erickson explains that Augustine sought to incorporate the seemingly disparate notions of Roman life and Christian life, “Because the Romans had incorporated wholesale the Greek Paideia, an outrage to Christian leaders who saw in Greek life values contrary to those held by the Church” (105-06).
By valuing all the sources of one's education and knowledge,Erickson writes that Augustine contextualized ideas from Plato, Cicero, and many others in a way that could (and should) be used in Christian culture, “Augustine legitimized a Christian Paideia which led man to Christ and beatitude through rhetoric; his argument became the ‘fundamental charter of a Christian culture’” (106).