Early Christian martyr accounts were less about recounting history than about constructing theology. As such, many historians of late antique Christianity call them "rhetorical." But what does this mean for early Christian theology of martyrdom? And what rhetorical techniques are actually being used for such theological construction?
To answer these questions, Adam Ployd looks to Augustine of Hippo. He places Augustine's martyr theology within its classical rhetorical context, drawing upon the theoretical foundations of Cicero, Quintilian, and others. Ployd investigates all of Augustine's major controversies as well as his work as a bishop and preacher cultivating a particular vision of the Christian life. Ployd uncovers the rich rhetorical roots of Augustine's martyr theology, roots that delve beyond ornamentation and into the depths of inventio and the techniques of rhetorical argumentation. What emerges from this investigation is a vision of Augustine's martyr discourse that is connected to his larger theological projects, including the promotion of Christian virtue pursued in the context of God's mysterious, providential work in human history.
Adam Ployd is Vice Principal at Wesley House, Cambridge. He previously served as Assistant Professor of Church History and Historical Theology at Eden Theological Seminary in St. Louis. An ordained deacon in the United Methodist Church, Ployd's work on Augustine has appeared in Augustinian Studies, Journal of Early Christian Studies, Journal of Theological Studies, Harvard Theological Review, Scottish Journal of Theology, Augustiniana, and Vigiliae Christianae. He is the author of Augustine, the Trinity, and the Church: A Reading of the Anti-Donatist Sermons (OUP, 2015).
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