Rhetoric and Ethic: The Politics of Biblical Studies

Rhetoric and Ethic: The Politics of Biblical Studies

by Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza

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In this major study, leading feminist biblical critic Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza focuses on Paul and his interpreters. She questions the apolitical ethos of biblical scholarship and argues for an alternative rooted in a critical understanding of language as a form of power. Modern biblical criticism, she reasons, derives much of its methodology and inspiration from an outdated notion of modern science. It professes value-neutrality and detachment from the world of politics and history. Yet, Schussler Fiorenza maintains, this posture belies an objectivity that fails to engage the sociopolitical context of both the text and today's reader. It also does not recognize the rhetorical character of biblical texts and readings. If language is understood in the sense of ancient rhetorics as a form of power that constitutes reality, then an ethics of interpretation is called for. The task of biblical studies is to identify and assess the ethical resources and moral visions of biblical religions. "Only then," Schussler Fiorenza contends, "will bibical studies be a significant partner in the global struggles seeking justice and well-being for all."

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781451407617
Publisher: Augsburg Fortress, Publishers
Publication date: 11/28/1999
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 775 KB

About the Author

Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza is Krister Stendahl Professor at Harvard Divinity School, a founding co-editor of the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, past president of the Society of Biblical Literature, and author of many important and influential works, among them In Memory of Her (1984), Bread Not Stone (1985), Jesus: Miriam"s Child, Sophia"s Prophet (1995), Rhetoric and Ethic: The Politics of Biblical Studies (1999), The Power of the Word: Scripture and the Rhetoric of Empire (2007), and Democratizing Biblical Studies: Toward an Emancipatory Educational Space (2009). Empowering Memory and Movement is the third volume in her collected essays from Fortress Press, including Transforming Vision: Explorations in Feminist The*logy (2011) and Changing Horizons: Explorations in Feminist Interpretation (2013). She is editor of Searching the Scriptures (two volumes, 1993, 1994), a feminist introduction and commentary.

Table of Contents




Introduction: For a Biblical (Wo/man) Scholar to Speak in the Ekklesia

Feminist Struggles against Silencing

The Politics of Biblical Studies

Part One: Theoretical Explorations

1. The Ethics of Biblical Interpreation:

Decentering Biblical Scholarship

Social Location and Biblical Criticism

The Rhetoric of Biblical Scholarship

The Ethos of Biblical Scholarship:

Critical Rhetoric and Ethics

2. Changing the Paradigms:

The Ethos of Biblical Studies

The Intellectual-Cultural Contexts of Biblical Studies

Competing Paradigms in Biblical Studies

Emancipation and Interpretation

3. Shifting the Focus: The Politics of Biblical Studies

Critical Turns and Turnings in the Ethos of Biblical Scholarship

A (Feminist) Ethic of Inquiry


4. Challenging the Rhetorical Half-Turn:

Feminist and Rhetorical

Biblical Criticism

A Rhetoric of Inquiry

A Feminist Rhetoric

The Feminine Coding of Rhetoric and Religion

Critical Engagement

Part Two: Rhetorical Practices

5. Rhetorical Situation and Historical Reconstruction in 1 Corinthians

Contemporary Interpretations

The Rhetorical Arrangement of 1 Corinthians

Rhetorical Situation and Genre

Historical Reconstruction and Theological Assesment

A Critical Rhetorical Model of Analysis

6. The Rhetoricity of Historical Knowledge:

Pauline Discourse and Its


Scientific Objectivist Frameworks

Kyriocentric Rhetoricity and Historical Reality

"Religious Propaganda" in a "Doubled" Process of Interpretation

7. Ideology, Power, and Interpretaion: Galatians 3:28

Ideology, Power, and Interpretation

Galatians 3:28 as a Focal Point of Feminist Debate

8. Pauline Theology and the Politics of Meaning

Biblical Theology as a Theological Rhetoric of Inquiry

Biblical Theology as a Politics of Meaning

The Hegemonic Politics of Meaning

Biblical Theology as the Rhetoric of Ekklesia

In place of a Conclusion


The Ethics of Interpretation: Thirteen Theses

The Rhetorics of Interpretation: Analytic CompassSelected Bibliography

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