Academic journal article Journal of Research in Gender Studies

The Rhetorical Construction of Masculinity

Academic journal article Journal of Research in Gender Studies

The Rhetorical Construction of Masculinity

Article excerpt

Any liturgical scenario offers to the (Christian or only "in the state of') auditorium a triple repertoire: ritualic, musical, and homiletic. In this study we intend to discuss this homiletic aspect.

The term "homily", which we will consider the synonym of "preach" (Christian lecture), comes from the Eline language having an initial meaning of gathering, reunion, link or conversation, dialogue, interlocution, group or crowd discussion. By time being the term "homily" acquired a particular meaning: teaching, counseling, and, subsequently, received a precise meaning, communication in Church, indispensable element of the Liturgy, a vector of transmitting, interpreting, and studying the revealed word.

Even if the homily does not identify itself with the lay, heathen oratory, it becomes a successful preach1 only due to mixture of the preacher's charismatic talent and the laborious process of research, mediatation, essentialization, systematization and precise communication of the revealed message.

Homiletics represents the theoretic analysis field of homilies. Looking like rhetorics,2 science and art (rather tèchne) of elaborating a persuasive discourse, the homiletics is the theoretic and methodological guideline of the homilies.

There are at least few fundamental aspects which differentiate the homiletics from the lay rhetoric. Firstly, homiletics is rhetoric of the sacred eloquntia, where the word, as logos, is the center of concerns. Secondly, while the rhetoric focuses on the mastery of delivering the lay word in order to convince, persuade or manipulate the auditorium, the homiletics assumes the revealed word and says it "differently," it changes into a herald messenger. Thirdly, if in oratory the verosimilitudine3 becomes mostly a substitute for truth, in homiletics case, the "confession" is the specific imperative transmission and communication of the divine truth. And finally, if rhetoric is funded on the art of speaking and the intelligence of using different argumentation, homiletics is in service of the revealed word, even if it uses almost the same instruments.

Some manuals and older studies classify the church speech in four genres of preaches spoken in liturgical context: homilies, proper preaches, paraenesis4 and religious lectures. Others classify preaches in accordance with the content of the biblical, dogmatic, moral, liturgical and historical writings, thus leaving the initial criterion and multiplying the homiletic interpretations.

Recent studies of homiletics opt for simpler classifications because of methodological and practical senses. Thus, if we take into consideration the moment when preaches are spoken, there are only two speech genres: one exegetical and the other thematic.

In accordance with the primary tradition, the homily had the role to explain and interpret the biblical read texts and it was spoken after the biblical readings in the first part of the Liturgy. The second part of the Liturgy, the one that belongs to the believers, had an autonomous status at some moment. Today, it has become a custom to move the preach to the end of the Liturgy, due to the length of the liturgical ritual or in most of the cases due to the followers who get the church after the Evangelical is read.

In this primary interpretation, the homily identifies with the exegetic homily. It seems that the oldest homily is "The Second Epistle to the Corinthians," written by Saint Clement, the Roman5 in the first part of the second century B.C. Some histories and religious studies consider Orígenes6 the father of the homily, the true founder of the scientific research on Holy Scripture. Taking into account what his contemporaries declared, Origen interpreted almost the whole Holy Scripture (The Old and the New Testament) in more than 1000 homilies, commentaries and scholiums.7

For the time being, the homily loses its strict exegetic character becoming opened to the thematic one. …

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