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Language in the Confessions of Augustine$
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Philip Burton

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199266227

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199266227.001.0001

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Biblical Idioms in the Confessions

Biblical Idioms in the Confessions

(p.112) 5 Biblical Idioms in the Confessions
Language in the Confessions of Augustine

Philip Burton (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter charts two of the strategies by which Augustine justifies the language of the Latin Bible, a style he himself had previously found unattractive. First, it can be located within the classical categories of rhetoric as belonging to the ‘humble style’, a description which is naturally rich in theological associations. Second, the arbitrary nature of language makes ‘biblical Latin’ as valid an idiom as any other form of Latin. It is argued that biblical usage gives Augustine a new range of linguistic options, which derive much of their force precisely from their opposition to classical norms. This is illustrated through consideration of his use of unusual plurals and of loan-words.

Keywords:   biblical Latin, Three Styles theory, grammatical number, loan-words

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