Of Rhetoric and Redemption in La Rioja

This past May Dr. Jim Tallmon published his first novel: Of Rhetoric and Redemption in La RiojaIt’s historical fiction, but I almost want to call it more than that: maybe multidisciplinary fiction!

So, imagine this (from the press release):

[The Apostle] Paul obtains a thirty-day leave from house arrest in Rome to “attend to business in Spain,” but must promise to return for sentencing. He plans a “mission blitz” of Hispania. But the plan changes when, in the provincial capital, Paul meets Quintilian, a young pleader who invites him to his family’s estate up the Rio Iberus, in La Rioja, outside Calagurris (Calahorra). Paul accompanies Quintilian to Calagurris, along with Luke. Zenas, the other member of “Mission Team Beta,” remains in Caesaraugusta to establish in the faith three new converts, one of whom is Quintilian’s clerk.

Their talk, rendered as Platonic dialogue, ranges across rhetorical theory, ethics, pedagogy, Christianity, and Paul’s latest manuscript, which he hopes will be received as his magnum opus. The novel explores fictional competition between Paul and Apollos, Quintilian’s personal crisis, a result of actual, devastating personal losses, resolved when, years after Paul has died by Nero’s decree, a much older Quintilian finds comfort in the words of Paul’s letter to his kinsmen, the Hebrews, words which Quintilian had discussed with Paul during that memorable occasion at the family’s estate in La Rioja.

Quintilian is a real person. He was a contemporary of St. Paul who grew up in Spain and became a well-noted rhetorician and teacher. Wouldn’t it be something to imagine Paul meeting with him? Influencing each other in thought and writing?

First century history, classically formulated dialogue and thoughts, in-depth consideration of the nature, ethics, and cultural roles of rhetoric, adventure, an emphasis on nature and natural beauty, and something of a love story. See what I mean about interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary historical fiction?! Even if it were just focused on rhetoric and redemption, it’d be a fascinating topic! Plus historical detail and an emphasis on beauty? I look forward to reading it!

When asked about rhetoric, Dr. Tallmon, a semi-retired classical educator, responded:

Rhetoric, at its core, has to do with speaking the truth in love to my neighbor, for his edification; to move his soul toward the Good. Rhetoric has to do with the True, the Good,
and the Beautiful and is deeply involved with human excellence. In short, it fosters cultural cohesion, it civilizes individuals, and is keenly implicated in civil society (which is why rhetoric is traditionally understood as the capstone of liberal arts education.) Our society needs to restore civility in our public discourse, therefore, our society needs to rediscover rhetorical studies.

Wow! Sounds promising! Great new addition for my Living Lutheran Author page! Plus, Of Rhetoric and Redemption in La Rioja was written with the “classically educated high schooler in mind,” so give  a try. Study guides for small groups, faculty development, and classroom use are under development.


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