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Barbara Bogołębska
University of Łódź

From the medieval times people wondered about the possibility of reconciling the Christian content with rhetorical techniues1. Usually the “common pronunciation” was accompanied by the rules of “church pronunciation”. The handbooks of homiletics taught and still are teaching the techniques of reading the words of God and sermonist’s communicativity2, growing from the belief of the divine and human character of sermons and from care for the over theologizing the language of sermons.

The reviewed handbook is of special character. In four years after the death of its author, it was elaborated and prepared for print by the father Grzegorz Jaśkiewicz. M. Korolko, prominent researcher of the rhetoric, did not have the time to finish and publish a book devoted to the clergy, but also to anyone who speaks in public and uses the language.

In the foreword to the handbook Korolko emphasizes that homiletics, which teaches the ability to deliver sermons, is a subject only theological, and the rhetoric is assumed as an art not theological at all. Rhetorical homiletics should show the use for this new art to the “theology of the Word of god” but above all should be used as a didactic help. According to Korolko the classical rhetoric, understood as an auxiliary subject to homiletics, should be accompanied with courses of Greek and Latin languages and a course on logic. But not only this. In the program of seminary studies, what he postulates, close to the knowledge about the language (the difference between speech and writing) and the future priests should be taught also of Mediterranean culture and literature. The author emphasizes the elements necessary for the studies of rhetoric: the theory – oratory models – practice in rhetorical skills (writing a speech).

Rhetorical homiletics is deeply rooted in the system of Basic terms and diversifications of rhetoric together with the biblical and Christian rhetoric. Moreover, the handbook describes also – in a similar, abbreviated way – the problems of dialectic and eristic.

The author referred to Evangelical examples of rabbinical rhetoric, observing, that „with good knowledge of theory of classical rhetoric one can build from the texts of New Testament a creative handbook on practical rhetoric3.

While writing about the speech as a part of oratory (being both in the writing and in the performing area) he described the transmittant (the rhetorical subject) and the audience (listener-reader). He described also the unambiguous goals of persuasion (teaching-moving-touching) and the kinds of persuasion: propaganda and agitation. In his deliberations the author couldn’t forget about one of the most important terms of rhetoric and dialectic – the topos and its kinds.

Writing about the “appropriateness” as one of the good merits of pronunciation, he emphasized its connection with the theory of Tyree styles and with the rule of mimesis, referring to both res and verba. He described the initial exercises, which are the foreword to the proper rhetoric, divided in accordance to the rhetorical genres.

Similar like in earlier publications (Przekonuj i daj się przekonać4, Retoryka i erystyka dla prawnikow5), he placed in a book the Alfabetyczny słownik terminów retorycznych i erystycznych – it was a broadened version of earlier etymological definitions of Greek and Latin words.

Equally import ant is the Aneks źródłowy, which includes the texts of theoreticians and practitioners of the Greek and Roman antique times (earlier he put the classical sources in a book Sztuka retoryki6 and the anthology of oratory texts also in Retoryka i erystyka dla prawników, and in a book Przekonuj i daj się przekonać). The annex is opened with the sentences of so-called seven wise men from Greece and a collection of contemporary elaborations (G. Reale, J. Gajda). One of the most important texts to the church rhetoric is the speeches of St. Peter and St. Paul and a fragment of Christian Rhetoric by St. Augustine of Hippo. In the handbook there is also the whole text of Eristic by A. Schopenhauer (Erystyka czyli sztuka prowadzenia sporow) with 38 ways (tricks, measures), supplemented by fragments of contemporary sophist, M.M. Czarnawska.

The book is closed with the Najważniejsze aksjomaty retoryczne and the Sentencje o retoryce i erystyce (earlier Korolko published them in a book Przekonuj i daj się przekonać). Although the basis and the point of reference of the reviewed book are the earlier works of Korolko, it includes also numerous novelties – above all it’s an attempt to “save from forgetting” of the deliberations connected with Kerygmat słowa żywego7 and the important voice on the function of the word in evangelization in the era of the crisis in homiletics.


  1. See.: B. BogołębskaZ rozważań nad językiem i stylem kaznodziejskim w XIX- i XX-wiecznych retorykach(in:) . M. Kamińska, E. Umińska-Tytoń (ed.), Funkcja słowa w ewangelizacji. Łodź 1998, p.281-289.
  2. For example. G. SiwekPrzepowiadać skuteczniej. Elementy retoryki kaznodziejskiej, Cracow1992; P. Urbański (ed.), Retoryka na ambonie, Cracow 2003; D. Zdunkiewicz-Jedynak, Komunikatywność kaznodziejska, „Poradnik Językowy” 2010, nr 10,p.35-45.
  3. M.KorolkoPodręcznik…, p.15.
  4. Piotrkow Trybunalski 2003.
  5. Warsaw 2001.
  6. Warsaw 1990.
  7. The intended title of the book.

FAR 2011 No. 2 (25) April-June

Rhetoric and cultural transformations



(Instytut Polonistyki Stosowanej UW)