The Art of Rhetoric in Light of Christ

Friday, June 26 | 11:30-12:15pm

  • Philosophy & Worldview

Many Christian Classical schools give a central place to the art of rhetoric. This is appropriate, given the role of the affections in Christian formation. Contemporary culture, however, tends to reduce persuasion to a technique that is detached from personal agency or ethical reality. A Christian understanding of the art of rhetoric provides an alternative to this widely held view. 

This workshop begins by considering the five traditional tasks that make up the art of rhetoric:

  1. “finding” arguments (inventio)
  2. “arranging” arguments (dispositio)
  3. “style” of persuasion (elocutio)
  4. “memory” (memoria),
  5. “delivery” (pronuntiatio).


Digital culture offers its own version of each task by appealing to a desire for subjective control and risk-free pleasure. In practice, however, these contemporary versions of the five tasks of the orator result in damage to persons. Ultimately, we shall consider how a Christian understanding of the Incarnation provides a life-giving alternative to the ways that our culture construes these aspects of rhetorical art.

Dr. Phillip Donnelly

Phillip J. Donnelly (Ph.D.) serves as Director of the Great Texts Program in the Honors College at Baylor University. His research focuses on the historical connections between philosophy, theology, and imaginative literature, with particular attention to Renaissance literature and the reception of Classical educational traditions. He is the author of _Milton’s Scriptural Reasoning_ (Cambridge UP, 2009) and co-editor (with D.H. Williams) of _Transformations in Biblical Literary Traditions_ (Notre Dame UP, 2014). His current book, _The Lost Seeds of Learning: The Verbal Arts and Christian Formation_, is under contract with Classical Academic Press.