IN CLASSICAL RHETORIC
Thomas H. Olbricht
For a long time I have been interested in how rhetoric functions in different contexts, especially in the synagogue and church.1 This interest is obviously related to Biblical criticism, especially in these times in which rhetorical criticism has once again come to the fore among Biblical scholars.2 In a somewhat parallel endeavor Professor Malherbe and his students have scrutinized styles of exhortation in the Graeco-Roman world and in early Christianity.3
In my opinion, it may be as important to give attention to what the ancient rhetoricians failed to expound upon as to what they encompassed. One area they did not pursue in any depth was the rhetorical function of analogical and allegorical materials in religious discourse.4
1 Thomas H. Olbricht, “An Aristotelian Rhetorical Analysis of I Thessalonians,” Greeks, Romans, and Christians, Essays in Honor of Abraham J. Malherbe, ed. by D. L. Balch, E. Ferguson, W. A. Meeks (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1990) 216–236. The latest is “Anticipating and Presenting the Case for Christ as High Priest in Hebrews”, to appear in a volume of essays ed. by Walter Überlacker, Anders Eriksson and Thomas H. Olbricht (Harrisburg: Trinity Press International, 2002).
2 Duane F. Watson and Alan J. Hauser, Rhetorical Criticism of the Bible: A Comprehensive Bibliography with Notes on History & Method (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1994); see also the bibliography in R. Dean Anderson, Jr., Ancient Rhetorical Theory and Paul (Kampen: Kok Pharos Publishing, 1996); Thomas H. Olbricht, “Biblical Interpretation in North American in the 20th Century”, Historical Handbook of Major Biblical Interpreters, D. K. McKim, editor, (Carol Stream: InterVarsity Press, 1998) 555–556 (on Malherbe and his students see 552). See also Gregory E. Sterling, “Hellenistic Philosophy and the New Testament,” Handbook to Exegesis of the New Testament, ed. S. E. Porter (Leiden: Brill, 1997) 317.
3 Abraham J. Malherbe, Moral Exhortation, A Graeco-Roman Sourcebook (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1986); Abraham, J. Malherbe, “Hellenistic Moralists and the New Testament,” AJVRW II.26.2 (1992) 267–333; Stanley K. Stowers, The Diatribe and Paul’s Letter to the Romans (SBLDS 57; Chico: Scholars Press, 1981); Stanley K. Stowers, Letter Writing in Graeco-Roman Antiquity (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1986); Stanley K. Stowers, A Rereading 0/ Romans: Justice, Jews, & Gentiles (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994).
4 Many useful works have been published on the definition and characteristics of analogy and allegory some of them focusing specifically on Alexandria, including: Sayre N. Greenfield. The Ends of Allegory (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1998); Marc Mastrangelo, “The Psychomachia of Prudentius: A Reappraisal of the Greek Sources and the Origins of Allegory” (Unpublished Ph.D. Dissertation; Brown Uni