Easy to be Understood

“So also you, if you do not give a clear word through the language, how will the thing being said be known? For you will be speaking into air” (1 Corinthians 14:9; LITV).

“so also ye, if through the tongue, speech easily understood ye may not give–how shall that which is spoken be known? for ye shall be speaking to air” (1 Corinthians 14:9; YLT)

“So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air” (1 Corinthians 14:9; KJV).

A portion from W.G.T. Shedd’s Intro to Augustine’s treatise on the Trinity (this is not a promotion of either Shedd or Augustine as true Christians, but I found Shedd’s criticisms interesting as they relate to writing and speaking that is “easy to be understood” and what might help or hinder that).

“It has its defects; but they pertain to the form more than to the matter; to arrangement and style more than to dogma. Literary excellence is not the forte of the patristic writers. Hardly any of them are literary artists. Lactantius among the Latins, and Chrysostom among the Greeks, are almost the only fathers that have rhetorical grace. And none of them approach the beauty of the classic writers, as seen in the harmonious flow and diction of Plato, and the exquisite finish of Horace and Catullus. Augustin [sic] is prolix, repetitious, and sometimes leaves his theme to discuss cognate but distantly related subjects. This appears more in the last eight chapters, which are speculative, than in the first seven, which are scriptural.

The material in this second division is capable of considerable compression. The author frequently employs two illustrations when one would suffice, and three or more when two are enough. He discusses many themes which are not strictly trinitarian. Yet the patient student will derive some benefit from this discursiveness. He will find, for example, in this treatise on the Trinity, an able examination of the subject of miracles (Book III); of creation ex nihilo (III. ix); of vicarious atonement (IV. vii-xiv); of the faculty of memory (XI. x); and, incidentally, many other high themes are touched upon.

Before such a contemplative intellect as that of Augustin, all truth lay spread out like the ocean, with no limits and no separating chasms. Everything is connected and fluid. Consequently, one doctrine inevitably leads to and merges in another, and the eager and intense inquirer rushes forward, and outward, and upward, and downward, in every direction. The only aim is to see all that can be seen, and state all that can be stated. The neglect of the form, and the anxiety after the substance, contribute to the discursiveness. Caring little for proportion in method, and nothing for elegance in diction, the writer, though bringing forth a vast amount of truth, does it at the expense of clearness, conciseness, and grace. Such is the case with the North African father — one of the most voluminous and prolix of authors, yet one of the most original, suggestive, and fertilizing of any. And this particular treatise is perhaps as pregnant and suggestive as any that Augustin, or any other theologian, ever composed” (W.G.T. Shedd; underlining mine).