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New Testament Interpretation Through Rhetorical Criticism
     

New Testament Interpretation Through Rhetorical Criticism

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by George A. Kennedy
 

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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

Overview

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.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
The single best introduction to some of the key rhetorical dimensions in the biblical text.

Quarterly Journal of Speech

George Kennedy's book is . . . sure to find an eager audience

Wayne A. Meeks, Yale University

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780807841204
Publisher:
The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date:
09/10/1984
Series:
Studies in Religion Series
Edition description:
1
Pages:
181
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.20(d)

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
We have seen a growing interest in ancient rhetoric as one context for the comparative study of the New Testament, but up until now there has been no general introduction to this kind of analysis. George Kennedy's book is therefore sure to find an eager audience, especially because of his acknowledged stature as one of the leading scholars of classical rhetoric.—Wayne A. Meeks, Yale University

The single best introduction to some of the key rhetorical dimensions in the biblical text.—Quarterly Journal of Speech

Meet the Author

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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New Testament Interpretation through Rhetorical Criticism 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Few books have changed my thinking on any one particular subject as has this volume by Kennedy. I was trained in New Testament academics heavy on the German, largely Lutheran, 'higher critical' method. While this methodology has strengths, it is based largely on the study of the written text as a literary document. That is all well and good, but Kennedy reminds us that these were most likely oral documents, transcriptions, if you will, of texts that were intended to be heard by the audiences to which they were written. In other words, although the letters of the Apostle Paul were in fact written down and sent to the various congregations to which they are addressed, they were most likely experienced by that vast majority of people there as something that was read to them and not as something that they read. This oral presentation was based on a number of factors that we forget in the post-Guttenberg (printing press) era: The first century was an oral culture. Many people could not read, but even those who could expected to listen to texts as much as read them. Rhetoric, the art of oral persuasion, was held as the highest demonstration of a well-educated man (it was also a man's world). Thus, to communicate within the framework of the Greco-Roman world, Kennedy maintains, Paul wrote rhetorically, with the intention that it would be listened to, like a sermon. Even the Gospels were written in this fashion, as long stories of Jesus to be heard in one sitting among the communities of faith. Studying the New Testament from a purely literary framework, therefore, without 'listening' to the text as rhetoric, misses much of what the first century audiences would have know and appreciated. This book opened a whole new world for me, when I first read it over fifteen years ago as a well-trained student in the New Testament. Since then, I have deepened by appreciation for Kennedy¿s methodology and incorporated much of what I have learned in my own investigations. If you are a student of the New Testament, this little book will invite you to change your way of thinking and, more importantly, your way of 'hearing.' Enjoy!