Category Archives: Biblical Interpretation

Rhetoric In the New Testament, Pt. 4 (Acts, Galatians, Thessalonians, Romans)

George Kennedy analyzes several speeches by Peter in the Book of Acts, and finds significant rhetorical features in them. For instance, Acts 1:16-22, though only six verses, appears to be an instance of a deliberative speech. This is seen, according … Continue reading

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Rhetoric in the New Testament, Pt. 3 (1 and 2 Corinthians)

“Rhetoric in the New Testament” is, of course, far too large a topic to adequately explore in a short series of posts on a blog. One purpose of this post in the series is to demonstrate, mostly from some of … Continue reading

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Rhetoric in the New Testament, Pt. 2 (Rhetoric and Sophistry)

In Part 1 of this series, we saw that even while teachers such as Plato and Aristotle were seeking to develop rhetoric into an art form that would be of great service to finding truth and expressing it well, there … Continue reading

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Rhetoric in the New Testament, Pt. 1 (What Is “Rhetoric”?)

The noted Church historian Jaroslav Pelikan has written of the fourth century Church Father Gregory of Nyssa: [He] was conscious of the cultural differences between more cultivated and “more barbarian peoples”…For him, the supreme example of how the believer could … Continue reading

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Rhetoric in the New Testament (Introduction)

I’ve been thinking lately about the rhetoric of the New Testament. Rhetoric in its classical form is, I believe, a very much neglected discipline in our age of cheap soundbites and endless emotional manipulation via image-based advertisement. And yet, rhetoric … Continue reading

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Plato in Paul

Marsilio Ficino (1433-1499) sees a key element of Plato’s theology in Paul’s epistles: …when we investigate the reasons why every single being has been created and disposed in the way that it is (which is a question that occurs to … Continue reading

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Chiasm: A Key to the Clear Meaning of Scripture

Although it’s difficult to obtain these days, I would like to recommend Fr. John Breck’s intriguing book The Shape of Biblical Language. This book outlines and analyzes with copious examples from the text of Scripture exactly what it’s title conveys … Continue reading

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Language, Ontology, and System-Dependent Knowledge

Evangelical philosopher Winfried Corduan ["Philosophical Presuppositions Affecting Biblical Hermeneutics," in Hermeneutics, Inerrancy, and the Bible: Papers from ICBI Summit II (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1984), pp. 495-513] interestingly uses a transcendental argument to justify biblical hermeneutics. Starting with … Continue reading

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Preconditions for Understanding the “Plain” Scriptures

Athanasius, who in so many places so eloquently describes Scripture as “plainly” teaching or proving this or that, elsewhere urges that certain preconditions must be present if one is to truly understand the “plain” Scriptures: But for the searching of … Continue reading

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Antioch and Alexandria, Again

A key difference between the Antiochene and Alexandrian schools of biblical exegesis seems to have been that Antioch was more influenced by the discipline of rhetoric and a sense of rooted-ness in history, while Alexandria preferred philosophy and spiritual realities … Continue reading

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