New Testament Interpretation Through Rhetorical Criticism

New Testament Interpretation Through Rhetorical Criticism

Copyright Date: 1984
Pages: 184
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    New Testament Interpretation Through Rhetorical Criticism
    Book Description:

    New Testament Interpretation through Rhetorical Criticismprovides readers of the Bible with an important tool for understanding the Scriptures. Based on the theory and practice of Greek rhetoric in the New Testament, George Kennedy's approach acknowledges that New Testament writers wrote to persuade an audience of the truth of their messages. These writers employed rhetorical conventions that were widely known and imitated in the society of the times. Sometimes confirming but often challenging common interpretations of texts, this is the first systematic study of the rhetorical composition of the New Testament.As a complement to form criticism, historical criticism, and other methods of biblical analysis, rhetorical criticism focuses on the text as we have it and seeks to discover the basis of its powerful appeal and the intent of its authors. Kennedy shows that biblical writers employed both "external" modes of persuasion, such as scriptural authority, the evidence of miracles, and the testimony of witnesses, and "internal" methods, such asethos(authority and character of the speaker),pathos(emotional appeal to the audience), andlogos(deductive and inductive argument in the text).In the opening chapter Kennedy presents a survey of how rhetoric was taught in the New Testament period and outlines a rigorous method of rhetorical criticism that involves a series of steps. He provides in succeeding chapters examples of rhetorical analysis, looking closely at the Sermon on the Mount, the Sermon on the Plain, Jesus' farewell to the disciples in John's Gospel, the distinctive rhetoric of Jesus, the speeches in Acts, and the approach of Saint Paul in Second Corinthians, Thessalonians, Galatians, and Romans.

    eISBN: 978-1-4696-1626-1
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. Chapter One. Rhetorical Criticism
    (pp. 3-38)

    The objective of this book is to provide readers of the New Testament with an additional tool of interpretation to complement form criticism, redaction criticism, historical and literary criticism, and other approaches being practiced in the twentieth century. To many biblical scholars rhetoric probably means style, and they may envision in these pages discussion of figures of speech and metaphors not unlike that already to be found in many literary studies of the Scriptures. The identification of rhetoric with style—a feature of what I have elsewhere calledletteraturizzazione—is a common phenomenon in the history of the study of...

  5. Chapter Two. Deliberative Rhetoric: The Sermon on the Mount, the Sermon on the Plain, and the Rhetoric of Jesus
    (pp. 39-72)

    The fifth, sixth, and seventh chapters of the Gospel of Matthew and the sixth chapter of the Gospel of Luke present sermons attributed to Jesus early in his ministry. Many, perhaps most, modern biblical scholars, working with the tools of form and redaction criticism, regard these as the work of the evangelists editing traditional material into the form of continuous speeches. The question of the sources and authenticity of the speeches is an interesting one on which a few comments may be made later, but it is irrelevant to the question of how the Gospels should be read. It was...

  6. Chapter Three. Epideictic Rhetoric: John 13–17
    (pp. 73-85)

    Epideictic is the most difficult to define of the three universal species of rhetoric. It is commonly regarded as the oratory of praise or blame. Aristotle sought (RhetoricI.3.I358a) to make a basic distinction between situations in which the audience are judges and those in which they are only spectators or observers. In a sense, epideictic is thus everything that does not fall clearly into the category of judicial or deliberative, everything that does not clearly focus on the judgment of a past action, either defending it or attacking it, or on the expediency or inexpediency of a specific future...

  7. Chapter Four. Judicial Rhetoric: Second Corinthians
    (pp. 86-96)

    Since Jesus offers no defense before the Council and before Pilate, the principal judicial situations in the Gospels are his encounters with the Pharisees. In Matthew's Gospel there is an elaborate rhetorical unit stretching from 21:23 through the end of chapter 23 which can be viewed as judicial rhetoric and which consists of a preliminary altercation with the priests and elders, a series of parables relating to judgment, a renewed interrogation by the Pharisees, and an extended epilogue by Jesus denouncing them to the crowd (invective is a regular feature of judicial oratory). Matthew, however, was the primary subject of...

  8. Chapter Five. The Rhetoric of the Gospels
    (pp. 97-113)

    The canon of the New Testament was established by Councils of the Church in late antiquity. Whether consciously determined or not, the order assigned to the books is interesting, for it is consistent with conventions of rhetoric as taught in the schools. First come the Gospels, which proclaim the message; then the narrative of Acts, which describes its reception; then the epistles, which may be viewed as arguing out interpretations of the message; and finally the Apocalypse, as a dramatic epilogue. The order of the four Gospels probably reflects what the Church thought was the chronological order of their composition...

  9. Chapter Six. The Speeches in Acts
    (pp. 114-140)

    The book of Acts resembles a classical historical monograph; it has a preface and consists of a chronological narrative into which speeches and a letter are inserted, as in the work of Greek historians. Luke’s choice of this form suggests that he expects an audience with some education, who would appreciate it, and that he thinks of himself in the role of a Greek historian—not a scientific collector of facts, but an interpreter and dramatizer of the direction and meaning of events.

    The historicity of speeches in Greek historians varies considerably from writer to writer. Some speeches in Polybius...

  10. Chapter Seven. Thessalonians, Galatians, Romans
    (pp. 141-156)

    The earliest of the epistles of Paul is apparently I Thessalonians, written from Corinth in the early 508. The circumstances of Paul’s visit to Thessalonica are briefly described in Acts 17. He had founded a small Christian community there, but awakened violent opposition from Jews and was forced to leave abruptly. The letter itself makes it clear (2:1–8) that the community is still hard pressed. In the absence of anyone with apostolic authority the Christians in Thessalonica are also internally troubled by doctrinal questions, which Paul attempts to answer in the latter part of the letter.

    Most of Paul’s...

  11. Chapter Eight. Conclusion
    (pp. 157-160)

    Twentieth-century thought as seen in some of its most original philosophers, writers, and artists, as well as at the frontiers of theoretical science, points towards a conclusion that mankind cannot know reality, at least not directly or not under contemporary conditions. At most, it is argued, we can know structures, words, and formulae perhaps representative of aspects of reality. Even if an individual were to perceive reality experientially or intuitively, there is some pessimism whether this understanding can be communicated through the media available to us to any general segment of the population. I do not share this view in...

  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 161-166)
  13. Index
    (pp. 167-171)