Academic journal article Journal of Biblical Literature

From Eloquence to Evading Responsibility: The Rhetorical Functions of Quotations in Paul's Argumentation

Academic journal article Journal of Biblical Literature

From Eloquence to Evading Responsibility: The Rhetorical Functions of Quotations in Paul's Argumentation

Article excerpt

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Removing all scriptural quotations in Rom 10 would shorten the chapter by one-third. It is an example of a passage in which quotations are an integral part of Paul's argumentation This essay addresses the following questions: What functions do the quotations have in the argumentation? How are they related to each other and to the parts Paul formulated? Does their original literary context still "echo" through them?

Some scholars label Paul's use of quotations "prooftexting."1 This term raises objections among scholars and leads to apologetic assertions of Paul's serious theological wrestling with the Scriptures. Both this kind of labeling and apologetic approaches aimed at justifying Paul's use of Scriptures tend to apply a binary framework that obscures the wide variety of argumentative functions of quotations. My aim in this article is to shed light on these various functions by introducing two modern theories on quoting and thereby examining the argumentative roles of quotations beyond the category of proof.2 These theories can also bring conceptual clarity to recent debates related to Paul's use of Scriptures.

First, Demonstration Theory, developed by psycholinguists Herbert Clark and Richard Gerrig, explains why direct quotations are used in a discourse. The theory describes various functions a quotation may perform and how they affect the communication situation.3 Applied to Paul's argumentation, the theory serves to highlight the multifaceted rhetorical effects of his scriptural quotations. Second, Meir Sternberg, a literary critic, examines the recontextualization process of a quotation.4 Given that there is always a transformation in meaning when a quotation is taken from its original context and inserted into a new one, Sternberg refers to the phenomenon as the "Proteus Principle" after the shape-changing sea god of Greek mythology.5 This theory functions as a starting point for analyzing Paul's strategies in integrating quotations from different sources into his own argumentation. As I will show, Paul creates unity between the quotations and the rest of the discourse by actively framing them with elements that influence their interpretation. Both theories will be illustrated by textual examples from Rom 9-11, in which quotations are frequent and form an integral part of the argumentation.6 In the final part of the article, I address the questions that arise when modern theories are applied to ancient texts and discuss the relevance of the approaches for the study of Paul's argumentation.

I concentrate on "direct" or "explicit" quotations. A scriptural reference is defined as a quotation if it has (1) an introductory formula, or (2) an established formula used for textual interpretation (e.g., tout' sotiv in Rom 10:6), or (3) a clear syntactical or stylistic tension with the surrounding text (e.g., an abrupt change of personal pronouns or verb forms), or (4) significant verbal correspondence with a certain scriptural passage. The last criterion is disputed among scholars and open to various interpretations. More important than having a certain number of words quoted in a chain is the frequency of words and forms. All of the examples used here, however, fulfill at least one of the first three criteria.

I.Quotations as Demonstrations

Demonstration Theory

Clark and Gerrig's Demonstration Theory focuses on the question of how quotations function in a discourse.7 Although some features of the theory apply only to spoken communication, many of the key observations can also be applied to written texts. According to Clark and Gerrig, direct quotations are used for stylistic and rhetorical reasons when the person doing the quoting wishes to show what the original communication situation was like. Quotations do not describe the situation but "demonstrate" it from a certain point of view.8 Thus, "quotations are intended to give the audience an experience of what it would be like in certain respects to experience the original event. …

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