Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary
Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary

St. Augustine—De Doctrina Christiana | Book 4 (Ch.17-31)

By James T. Majewski ( bio - articles - email ) | Jan 20, 2021 | In Catholic Culture Audiobooks (Podcast)

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“I have discussed in these four books not the kind of man I am, because I have many failings, but the kind of man he should be who strives to labor in sound teaching, that is, in Christian teaching...”

We’ve finally reached the end of our seven-part reading series of St. Augustine’s De Doctrina Christiana, or On Christian Instruction. Whether you’re fully caught up on all of the previous episodes, or if you’ve not listened to any of them, you’ll still stand to benefit from today’s episode.

That’s because Augustine concerns himself in these final chapters with concrete rhetorical advice, and practical strategies for speaking and instruction.

He does so primarily by outlining three basic styles of speech: the subdued style, the moderate style, and the grand style. To illustrate each of these three styles, Augustine provides extended quotes from the letters of St. Paul, as well as from two other orators whom he greatly respects: St. Cyprian and St. Ambrose.

Augustine rounds out Book 4 with an emphasis on the effect that a speaker’s life will have upon his speech, and on how important a role moral character plays in the way a speech is ultimately received by others.

Finally, Augustine returns to a point he has made throughout De Doctrina Christiana: the power of prayer—prayer before speaking, and prayer after speaking, asking for the grace of God “in whose hand are both we and our words.”


Translation courtesy of Catholic University of America Press:

Alternate Translation at

Previous De Doctrina Christiana episodes:

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Theme music: 2 Part Invention, composed by Mark Christopher Brandt, performed by Thomas Mirus. ©️2019 Heart of the Lion Publishing Co./BMI. All rights reserved.

James T. Majewski is Director of Customer Relations for, the “voice” of Catholic Culture Audiobooks, and co-host of Criteria: The Catholic Film Podcast. Based in New York City, he holds both a BA in Philosophy and an MFA in Acting. See full bio.

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