New Testament Interpretation Through Rhetorical Criticism

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UNC Press Books, Feb 1, 2014 - Religion - 184 pages
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New Testament Interpretation through Rhetorical Criticism provides 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 as ethos (authority and character of the speaker), pathos (emotional appeal to the audience), and logos (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.

 

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Contents

Rhetorical Criticism
3
Deliberative Rhetoric The Sermon on the Mount The Sermon on the Plain and the Rhetoric of Jesus
39
Epideictic Rhetoric John 1317
73
Judicial Rhetoric Second Corinthians
86
The Rhetoric of the Gospels
97
The Speeches in Acts
114
Thessalonians Galatians Romans
141
Conclusion
157
Bibliography
161
Index
167
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About the author (2014)

George A. Kennedy is Paddison Professor of Classics, Emeritus, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His other books include Classical Rhetoric and Its Christian and Secular Tradition from Ancient to Modern Times and Greek Rhetoric under Christian Emperors.

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