Omwille van u werd de Schepper geschapen. De opbouw en de gedachtegang van Augustinus’ kerstpreek 192: lijnen en cirkels


  • Joost van Neer


For your Sakes the Creator was Created. Structure and Argument of Augustine’s Nativity Sermon 192: Lines and Circles. Insight into the way a text is structured is crucial to achieving a proper understanding of its meaning. In De doctrina christiana 4, Augustine presents a division into four parts: opening, narration, proof and conclusion. But not all of his sermons appear to bear out this division. Because Augustine himself nowhere mentions any alternative arrangement, readers looking for these four parts in a sermon and failing to find them might be tempted to conclude that the sermon lacks any structure at all. This has traditionally been the dominant hypothesis among researchers. However, some scholars are currently taking the opposite view. With the aid of new insights furnished by modern linguistics, and using analyses of the use of Scripture in Augustine’s sermons, they have been able to discern transitions between and within different parts of the text, not only in sermons with a four-part division, but also in others. New categories of sermons can thus be identified beside those with the standard division, such as sermons divided into three or five parts. These are structured around a centre part which the preceding parts prepare for and which the subsequent parts look back to. This structure gives these sermons a very particular dynamic, which is especially suited for feasts. As will be demonstrated in this article, a three-part structure is clearly discernible in Augustine’snativity sermon 192.