PAUL OF TARSUS AND HIS LETTERS
Stanley E. Porter
Roehampton Institute London, England
In the study of rhetoric and the New Testament, in recent times more attention has been given to the Pauline letters than to any other part of the New Testament.1 In some circles, rhetorical analy sis constitutes a standard, independent interpretive model, while in others it constitutes one of several critical tools of historical criti cism.2 In the light of the scope of this volume, however, the use of ancient rhetorical categories as applied to the Pauline letters is the subject of analysis. This chapter proceeds in several parts. After an introduction to Paul the man and his letters, part II surveys the variety of ancient rhetorical analyses of the Pauline letters and subjects them to critical scrutiny. Part III analyzes the presuppositions of rhetorical studies of the Pauline letters in terms of ancient rhetorical and epis tolary theory. Part TV presents a functional model of rhetorical criticism for the study of the Pauline letters.
Kennedy claims that an important dimension of rhetorical criticism is the attempt to discover the intention of the author of the piece of rhetoric under consideration.3 If this is so (some would disagree), it is
1 D. F. Watson and A.J. Hauser, Rhetorical Criticism of the Bible: A Comprehensive Biblio
graphy with Notes on History and Method (BI, 4; Leiden: Brill, 1994), esp. pp. 178–202.
2 See D. L. Stamps, “Rhetorical Criticism of the New Testament: Ancient and
Modern Evaluations of Argumentation”, in S. E. Porter and D. Tombs (eds.), Approaches
to New Testament Study (JSNTSup, 120; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1995),
esp. pp. 130–35, for a survey of the development of rhetorical criticism in New
3 G. A. Kennedy, New Testament Interpretation through Rhetorical Criticism (Chapel Hill:
University of North Carolina Press, 1984), p. 12.