chapter  10
14 Pages

How Shall We Plead? The Conference of Carthage (411) on Styles of Argument


The late ancient Church had a complex relationship with education. Culturally it was a part of the Greco-Roman world and therefore continued to value the forms and ideals of classical education. At the same time, in religious terms, Christianity saw itself in opposition to paganism, the religious outlook of the times that had produced classical education and the associated authoritative texts. It is hence impossible to describe Christianity’s attitude to classical education in simple terms of rejection or adoption; depending on the context, the calibration between the two poles could shift and mutate. Moreover, late ancient Christianity was eminently concerned with protreptic and training, symbolised for ordinary believers by the institutions of catechesis and sermon. For that reason, as this volume illustrates, discussions about the right type and use of learning were not restricted to theoretical treatises but can be detected in almost all types of Christian writing. As a consequence, the use of forms of classical learning in Christian texts is often accompanied by a reflection on that use.