Sir 34:30 and Forensic Rhetoric in Augustine’s Conflict with the Donatists

In: Vigiliae Christianae
Author: Adam Ployd1
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  • 1 Eden Theological Seminary8453St. Louis, MOUSA
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The book of Sirach plays a larger part within Augustine’s theology than has hitherto been appreciated. This article helps fill this lacuna by examining the role of Sir 34:30 – “What does the bath profit one who is baptized by a dead man?” – in Augustine’s conflict with the Donatists. In addition to showing the significance of this verse within the conflict, I further argue that it allows us to espy the forensic rhetoric that shapes much of Augustine’s anti-Donatist polemic. In particular, I point to techniques of inventio that provide not merely stylistic but also argumentative forms and approaches that Augustine deploys on several fronts.

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