Ideas on Language in Early Latin Christianity

From Tertullian to Isidore of Seville


In Ideas on Language in Early Latin Christianity, Tim Denecker investigates, in a comprehensive and systematic way, the views held on the history, diversity and properties of language(s) by Christian Latin authors from Tertullian (b. c.160) to Isidore of Seville (d. 636). This historical period witnessed various sociocultural changes, affecting linguistic situations and the ways in which these were perceived. Christian intellectuals were confronted with languages other than Latin in the context of the propagation of faith, and in reflecting on language were bound to comply with the relevant biblical accounts. Whereas previous research has mostly focused on the (indeed vital) contribution of Augustine, the present study reveals the diversified and dynamic nature of linguistic reflection in early Latin Christianity.

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Tim Denecker, Ph.D. (2015), KU Leuven, is a postdoctoral fellow at the Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO). He publishes on linguistic ideas in late antique and early medieval Western Christianity, and is co-editor of Language and Culture in Early Christianity (forthcoming).
"Denecker has published an excellent monograph which, thanks to its clear structure, its comprehensiveness, and accuracy will be fundamental to any further scholarly work on the concepts of language and linguistics in Late Antiquity." - Dorothea Weber, in: Bryn Mawr Classical Review
"This book is a state-of-the-art contribution to the history of linguistic ideas in early Christianity. While not exhausting the subject – some topics are deliberately left out – it collects a considerable amount of relevant material and provides sound interpretation of it, which both fills a present gap in the literature and lays the foundation for future development. It is intellectually honest, clear, and well-written. We should congratulate the author on this major accomplishment and look forward to his future works in the field of the history of linguistics." - Tommaso Mari, in: Mittellateinisches Jahrbuch
"The volume is a mine of information on the importance of language to Latin Christian exegesis, shedding light on the characteristics of individual interpreters and showing how key ideas were transmitted and refined in this formative period for theology and thought in the West." - H.A.G. Houghton, in: Novum Testamentum, 2019
"Denecker has managed to fit an enormous amount of heterogeneous material into a well-organised and elucidating mould, thus providing the scholarly world with the first comprehensive overview which is both highly reliable and does justice to the often underestimated contribution of early Christianity to thinking about language.... I do not doubt that Denecker's Ideas on Language will be an authoritative book of reference for years to come." - Joop van Waarden, in: Vigiliae Christianae, 2019
All interested in the views held on language(s) by early Christian Latin authors, and in the intellectual and cultural history of late antiquity and the early Middle Ages more generally.
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