Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

The Rhetoric of the Gospel: Theological Artistry in the Gospels and Acts

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

The Rhetoric of the Gospel: Theological Artistry in the Gospels and Acts

Article excerpt

The Rhetoric of the Gospel: Theological Artistry in the Gospels and Acts. By C. Clifton Black. St. Louis, Mo.: Chalice, 2001. xvii + 224 pp. $26.99 (paper).

This is an erudite and elegantly written collection of essays which brings together several of Black's articles extending the insights of rhetorical criticism to the gospels and Acts. Among biblical scholars, "rhetoric" is a slippery term. Black's initial chapter presents the scholarly landscape and the bases for Black's own use of "rhetoric." When Black speaks of rhetoric he refers to "those distinctive properties of human discourse, especially in its artistry and argument, by which the authors of biblical literature have endeavored to convince others of the truth of their beliefs" (p. 2).

Black is a gifted reader of the New Testament and well versed in those ancient sources which address themselves to rhetoric and rhetorical techniques. This combination results in chapters which present close readings of particular aspects of the gospels and Acts, interspersed with discussions about how ancient rhetorical theorists might have understood the literary artistry of these texts.

Some chapters cover large amounts of text. For example, in "Matthew's Characterization of Faith," Black shows both the inadequacy of the distinction between "round" and "flat" characters and how theologically deft Matthew is when it comes to presenting characters in his gospel. Here attention to the whole yields incisive theological judgments based on a rhetorical understanding of Matthean characterization.

In "The case of the Feckless Fiecelle," Black examines the curious role of John Mark in Acts. …

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