Saturday, June 21, 2008

Christian Scholars, Please Write Plainly!

Some thoughts from the Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University, writing in 1653 of his own writing:

'With regard to our manner of writing, or Latin diction, as some are wont to acquire great praise from their sublimity of expression, allow me but a word or two. Know, then, reader, that you have to do with a person who, provided his words but clearly express the sentiments of his mind, entertains a fixed and absolute disregard for all elegance and ornaments of speech; for, —

“Dicite, pontifices, in sacris quid facit aurum?"
“Say, bishops, of what avail is glitter to sacred subjects?”

In my opinion, indeed, he who, in a theological contest, should please himself with the idea of displaying rhetorical flourishes, would derive no other advantage therefrom but that his head, adorned with magnificent verbose garlands and pellets, would fall a richer victim to the criticisms of the learned.'

(Owen, Dissertation on Divine Justice, Preface)

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