If Proverbs says that “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver,” then a page of Fitting Words is an apple tree, and a book of those pages is a fitting orchard. Fitting Words is a fitting orchard for which our Christian communities are in desperate need. This book may be written for high school students and teachers, but we ought not think the material covered here is beneath any of us, for a proper study of rhetoric ought to be required for doctoral candidates and plumbers alike. So, taste. And see that rhetoric, when fitly handled, is good.
Of the several rhetoric curricula being written for Christian education, this one is balanced in all the important areas: Biblical wisdom, appropriate and enjoyable exercises, and a strong tether to the classical texts. If you enjoyed Nance’s logic curriculum, you will not be disappointed. He outdoes himself with this new rhetoric curriculum. If you want to climb the mount of classical rhetoric, Nance will be the Virgil to your Dante. And you won’t even have to go through hell or purgatory on your journey!
Not only should this curriculum become the standard rhetoric curriculum in our Christian schools, it should become standard reading for all upper level faculty, applying what is said here in every course taught in our Christian schools, for rhetoric, like logic, truly is an art and a science necessary for learning and teaching any subject whatsoever.
There is an important balance when teaching rhetoric, a kind of line which every good teacher must walk: balancing theory and practice. Our students will not become great rhetoricians if they don’t practice, and when practicing they must practice the right kind of rhetoric. Nance has walked that line beautifully; he has given a curriculum which will equip rhetoric teachers to do the same.
It is hard to come by a rhetoric curriculum that gets you in Scripture, analyzing and memorizing the text. It is likewise difficult to find a Biblicist who so clearly understands the importance and distinct characteristics of classical rhetoric. A third difficulty is having a curriculum which offers mature and age-appropriate exercises and examples made for the modern student. With his new book on rhetoric, Nance accomplishes all three: classical, Christian, and relevant.
The greatest compliment I can give of this curriculum is that it could not get into my own children’s hands and heads fast enough.
Nance further demonstrates that one can only have a full and proper view of rhetoric when one sees rhetoric as deeply informed by literature, theology, history, political theory, and logic, for these great subjects cannot be learned in a vacuum. To know any of them well, we must continue to study all of them together.
Find out more about Fitting Words: Classical Rhetoric for the Christian Student by James B Nance.
Read a review by Wesley Callihan HERE.