Primer on the Language Theory of St. Augustine the Literal Level

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This study demonstrates that, of the four levels of interpretation associated with analysis of medieval literature, the literal level is, contrary to accepted opinion, the most sophisticated and difficult for the modern mind to understand. It combines considerations currently taken up under the headings of linguistics, semantics, epistemology, aesthetics, grammar, logic and theology. This study, by a close reading of the works, traces the connections between Augustine's thought and issues in modern composition, linguistics, and language theory, establishing that the basic Christian conception - Augustine's conception - of literacy in the tradition of the liberal arts has been lost to the modern age.


"This lucid, subtle, and elegant work is of the utmost importance. . . . it meticulously lays out for the first time the main points of Augustine's theory of language and rhetoric. It is a much-needed fleshing out of an important contribution to the rhetorical tradition. A truly interdisciplinary work, it sheds light on a wide range of topics: human anthropology, the Trinity, the history of rhetoric, the story of Augustine's conversion, the history of the early Church, the relationship among the classic branches of philosophy, and the similarity between premodern and postmodern thought. . . . Anyone who cares about language - who has a sense of the poignancy of existence - will appreciate this book and will feel a debt of gratitude to Professor Voiku for providing this powerful and fresh view of Augustine's thinking." - from the preface by Michael Allen Mikolajcsak

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