115th Annual Conference - Honolulu, Hawaii
Friday, November 10 - Sunday, November 12, 2017

The Preacher’s Notebook According to Juan Bautista Escardó (1647)

Javier Patino Loira, University of California, Los Angeles

I will study the sections of Juan Bautista Escardó’s Rhetórica christiana (1647) devoted to note-taking and commonplacing oriented to the preparation of a sermon. I will try to reconstruct what the preacher’s notebook would have looked like according to Escardó’s manual, and place it in the context of note-taking and sermon composition practices fostered by the Jesuit school system, in which he was  professor.


The Spanish Jesuit Juan Bautista Escardó published in 1647 a manual for preachers entitled Rhetórica christiana. It included large sections on to the intricacies of sermon composition, going into detail about the sources for the invention of arguments, and providing advice for the disposition and interrelation of the concepts. Escardó treated at length the process through which the preacher would study the passage of Scripture that he is going to comment in a particular sermon. According to Escardó, the preacher would need to have ready a notebook in which he would carefully and systematically write down the fruits of his study. At this point, Escardó becomes precise about the way in which the preacher should organize the information on the page in order to make it manageable and easy to be retrieved when necessary. In my paper I will try to reconstruct what the preacher’s notebook would have looked like following Escardó’s indications. For that purpose, on the one hand I will take into consideration contemporary works on sacred oratory, from which Escardó frequently quoted, showing close acquaintance with available literature in his field. On the other hand, I will place Escardó’s suggestions concerning the preacher’s notebook in the context of the practices of note-taking and commonplacing used in Jesuit schools, and described by members of the order in both official documents and correspondence.