Early Christianity and Classical Culture: Comparative Studies in Honor of Abraham J. Malherbe

By Abraham Johannes Malherbe | Go to book overview

LOGOS OR SOPHIA:
THE PAULINE USE OF THE ANCIENT DISPUTE
BETWEEN RHETORIC AND PHILOSOPHY

Edgar Krentz


Introduction: Paul and Rhetoric1

Two outstanding books discussing Paul’s use of and attitude toward rhetoric have appeared in recent years. R. Dean Anderson’s Ancient Rhetorical Theory in Paul appeared in 1996, followed by Bruce W. Winter’s Philo and Paul Among the Sophists in 1997.2 They reflect the recently burgeoning of interest in Paul and rhetoric.3 But they come to divergent interpretations of Paul’s evaluation of rhetoric. Anderson concludes his examination of 1 Corinthians 1—4 with the statement that “These chapters say virtually nothing concerning Paul’s views on rhetorical theory and practice.”4 He bases this, in part at least, on his conviction that the controversy between philosophy and rhetoric was absent in the first century, following J. Wisse, who argues that the controversy

1 Abraham Malherbe through his own writings and a series of students has contributed immensely to interpreting the New Testament within the social and cultural milieu of the Graeco-Roman world. I am delighted to offer this slight token of respect and affection to him.

2 R. Dean Anderson, Jr. Ancient Rhetorical Theory and Paul (CBET 17; Kampen: Kok Pharos Publishing House, 1996; rev. ed. 1999); Bruce Winter, Philo and Paul among the Sophists.(SNTSMS 96, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997). There are two significant reviews of Anderson’s book: Johan D. F. van Halsema in NovT 39 (1997) 292– 94, and C. Clifton Black in BMCR 00.05.13 (online). Also for a response to Anderson, see the article by Stowers in this volume.

3 Some of the key volumes are George A. Kennedy, Mew Testament Interpretation Through Rhetorical Criticism (Chapel Hill and London: University of North Carolina Press, 1984); Persuasive Artistry: Studies in New Testament Rhetoric in Honor of George A. Kennedy, ed. D. F. Watson (JSNTSup 50; Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1991); Rhetoric and the New Testament: Essays from the 1992 Heidelberg Conference, ed. S. E. Porter and T. H. Olbricht (JSNTSup 90; Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1993); Rhetoric, Scripture and Theology: Essays from the 1994 Pretoria Conference, ed. S. E. Porter and T. H. Olbricht (JSNTSup 131; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1996); The Rhetorical Analysis of Scripture, ed. S. E. Porter and T. H. Olbricht JSNTSup 146; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1997). Space prohibits listing individual articles or the volumes dealing with the rhetoric of individual books.

4 Anderson, Rhetorical Theory, 239–248; rev. ed., 265–76; the quotation is on 248; rev. ed., 276.

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