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Miracle Discourse in the New Testament

Miracle Discourse in the New Testament

Edited by Duane F. Watson
  • Book Info
    Miracle Discourse in the New Testament
    Book Description:

    This volume explores the rhetorical role that miracle discourse plays in the argumentation of the New Testament and early Christianity. The investigation includes both the rhetoric within miracle discourse and the rhetorical role of miracle discourse as it was incorporated into the larger works in which it is now a part. The volume also examines the social, cultural, religious, political, and ideological associations that miracle discourse had in the first-century Mediterranean world, bringing these insights to bear on the broader questions of early Christian origins. The contributors are L. Gregory Bloomquist, Wendy Cotter, David A. deSilva, Davina C. Lopez, Gail O'Day, Todd Penner, Vernon K. Robbins, and Duane F. Watson.

    eISBN: 978-1-58983-698-3
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

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  1. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  2. Abbreviations
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-16)
    Duane F. Watson

    The following essays were presented at the Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting in 2001 in Denver, Colorado. They were presented in the Rhetoric and the New Testament section in a session titled “The Rhetorical Function of Miracles in the New Testament.” These essays all interact with Wendy J. Cotter’s volume The Miracles of Greco-Roman Antiquity,¹ to which Professor Cotter formally responded. These essays and the response have all been recently updated, and an essay on the Pauline Epistles along with an additional, invited response have also been included. Several essays also interact with Cotter’s newest book, The Christ of...

  4. Sociorhetorical Interpretation of Miracle Discourse in the Synoptic Gospels
    (pp. 17-84)
    Vernon K. Robbins

    This paper presupposes a view, which has resulted from sociorhetorical analysis of the New Testament, that six major kinds of cultural discourse blend with each other in first-century Christian discourse: wisdom, prophetic, apocalyptic, precreation, priestly, and miracle.¹ Sociorhetorical interpreters refer to each different mode of discourse as a rhetorolect, which is a contraction of the phrase rhetorical dialect.² The presupposition is that each early Christian rhetorolect emerged in relation to multiple social and cultural spaces, functioned in dynamic ways in multiple public settings, and responded in appealing ways, both then and now, to multiple kinds of evil in the world....

  5. The Role of Argumentation in the Miracle Stories of Luke-Acts: Toward a Fuller Identification of Miracle Discourse for Use in Sociorhetorical Interpretation
    (pp. 85-124)
    L. Gregory Bloomquist

    My exploration of argumentation in Lukan discourse began with my 1996 presentation to the Malibu rhetoric conference concerning the argumentation underlying Lukan apocalyptic discourse.¹ I continued this exploration in my 1999 Society of Biblical Literature presentation on the intertexture of apocalyptic discourse in Luke-Acts and in my 2000 Lund conference examination of the role of the audience in the argumentation of Luke-Acts.²

    I continue this exploration here by presenting my findings on the role of argumentation as exemplified in three examples of miracle discourse in Luke-Acts. I do so in hopes of being more fully able to identify what miracle...

  6. Res Gestae Divi Christi: Miracles, Early Christian Heroes, and the Discourse of Power in Acts
    (pp. 125-174)
    Todd Penner

    When confronted with the prospect of working his own miracle, the emperor Vespasian is described by Suetonius in this way: “Though he had hardly any faith that this could possibly succeed, and therefore shrank even from making the attempt, he was at last prevailed upon by his friends and tried both things [healing a lame and blind man] in public before a large crowd; and with success” (Vesp. 7.2).¹ Most striking in this portrayal of the erstwhile emperor is the way in which Suetonius characterizes him as timid, perhaps even shrinking back in fear. Similar features are found in Tacitus’s...

  7. Miracle Discourse and the Gospel of John
    (pp. 175-188)
    Gail R. O’Day

    In the history of New Testament scholarship, one can trace the major trends in interpretation by looking at the ways that miracle stories were discussed. In debates about the historicity of the Gospel accounts, for example, the miracle stories were often the places in the text where the claims of faith and the claims of reason came most into conflict. The clearest example of this can be seen in the work of David Friedrich Strauss,¹ but Strauss was hardly alone in noting the problems that Jesus’ miracles caused interpreters in light of the birth and development of modern science. Form...

  8. Miracle Discourse in the Pauline Epistles: The Role of Resurrection and Rhetoric
    (pp. 189-196)
    Duane F. Watson

    The portrayal of Paul in the Acts of the Apostles demonstrates that he was remembered as a miracle worker. In that narrative, Paul is shown healing with a handkerchief (19:11–12), casting out demons (16:16–18), and raising the dead (20:7–12), thus aligning him with the apostles (5:12–16). However, that portrayal of Paul is not the concern here.¹ This essay focuses on the undisputed letters of Paul for self-reference as a miracle worker and for his understanding of the miraculous. It examines Paul’s use of the miraculous in the narrative and argumentation of his letters.

    It is intriguing...

  9. Toward a Sociorhetorical Taxonomy of Divine Intervention: Miracle Discourse in the Revelation to John
    (pp. 197-210)
    David A. deSilva

    My primary goal for this essay is to identify how and where John invokes the “themes, topics, reasonings and argumentations”¹ constitutive of miracle discourse in Revelation, and to analyze the rhetorical use to which he puts them. A secondary task, however, is to test Vernon Robbins’s definitions and delineations of a number of the six rhetorolects in light of the analysis of Revelation and the streams of discourse that therein converge. This dual focus will provide, I hope, something of a safeguard against the criticism that the rhetorolects themselves are subjective and arbitrary categories, subjecting them to scrutiny and thus...

  10. Miracle Discourse in the New Testament: A Response
    (pp. 211-224)
    Wendy J. Cotter

    In this important collection of essays, rhetorical and sociorhetorical studies have crossed a form-critical boundary set down by Rudolf Bultmann in his History of the Synoptic Tradition, where the miracle accounts belong to the narratives, myth, and legends, while the anecdotes or “apophthegms” belong to sayings that also include the parables and other “wisdom” chreiai.¹ For Bultmann, each division can be identified by its focus. For the miracle accounts, the focus is on the deeds of Jesus, while for the apophthegms and wisdom sayings, it is on his words of wisdom. In this volume, scholars known for their expertise in...

  11. Miraculous Methodologies: Critical Reflections on “Ancient Miracle Discourse” Discourse
    (pp. 225-248)
    Davina C. Lopez

    Deep in the German forest, sometime in the latter part of the second century c.e., the Roman army was blessed with a miracle that hastened a decisive victory for their embattled emperor, Marcus Aurelius, over the “savage” Quadii nation. According to the narrative of Dio’s Roman History (72.8.4), it was hot, and way too dry, and the Romans were wounded, overheated, and exhausted by thirst due to their being hemmed in away from the water supply. For their part, the Quadii, who outnumbered the Romans, had surrounded the cavalry and had stopped fighting in anticipation of an easy conquest over...

  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 249-266)
  13. Contributors
    (pp. 267-268)
  14. Index of Primary Sources
    (pp. 269-276)
  15. Index of Modern Authors
    (pp. 277-278)