This chapter examines some of the traditions of attitudes towards language, which form part of the cultural backdrop to Augustine's work. Particular attention is given to the growth of hesychasm and abstention from language in the 4th century, a phenomenon usually associated with monasticism but also found in Neoplatonic circles. Without explicitly criticizing this movement, Augustine reasserts the importance of language, linking the Johannine doctrine of the divine Logos, revealed in Jesus of Nazareth, to the wider doctrine of God's ‘speaking’ through the perceptible order of the physical world.
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