Defense Date


Graduation Date

Spring 5-10-2019


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



Communication and Rhetorical Studies


McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

Ronald C. Arnett

Committee Member

Calvin L. Troup

Committee Member

Richard H. Thames

Committee Member

Janie M. Harden Fritz


Cicero, Augustine, Walter Ong, Form and Content, Oral Homiletics, Orality-Literacy, Media Ecology, Rhetoric, Christian Invention, Internalization


Christian preaching has been a central and significant custom to the practitioners of biblically confessional and creedal communities in worship, evangelization, and discipleship. Yet modern preachers confront two challenges presented by the New Homiletic and the media environment. Undue favor toward narrative-based form, audience-oriented eventfulness at the expense of biblical authority, and shifting media that alter the preacher’s identity and incapacitate the preacher’s orality have led to a dissonant handling of form and content and thus a profound decline in the quality of the Christian pulpit.

This project grows out of an attempt to integrate an Augustinian hermeneutic and homiletic, Ciceronian coordinates, and an Ongian perspective on orality and literacy. It proposes an oral homiletic praxis, in anticipation of rectifying current homiletic deficiencies, that proceeds in the fashion of comprehension-internalization-proclamation. The design and plan of this homiletic praxis fulfills Augustine’s two-sided scheme of treating the Holy Scriptures, performs Cicero’s five rhetorical arts, and proclaims the gospel in a spontaneous, memorable, extemporaneous, and eventful way like the speakers of primary oral cultures do.

A sound praxis of oral homiletics fuses form and content, oriented toward a harmonious treatment of scriptural authenticity and contemporary eventfulness. The acknowledgement of human depravity in temporality demands a Christian inventio that can address the reality of complex and obscure signs with faith, hope, and charity. The delivery carries force from the heart, breaks through the barrier of literacy, and connects listeners together in an empathetic way. Throughout the whole process of sermonic preparation and proclamation, the interplay between the skills of biblical interpretation and the practices of orality presents the picture of a literate, textual message first taken in and then spoken out orally by the preacher.