Rhetoric – Good or Evil?

The next part of my Seminary class is on the topic of Rhetoric….

Dr. Lowe mentioned the great people of history (both good and bad characters), such as Hitler or Martin Luther King, and how their ability to orate using rhetoric left people longing to hear what they would say next with each pause of breath during their speeches.

When we look at what Paul said in 1 Cor. 2 we see that Paul was not emphasising rhetoric because of the situation in Corinth. Read 1 Cor. 2:1-5.

But in the letter to the Romans, Paul actually does make use of Rhetorical structures throughout the letter.

Thus, 5 devices of Speech are presented in Romans…

1) Impersonation in Romans 2…

A bolder form of figure, which in Cicero’s opinion de­mands greater effort, is impersonation, or proswpopoii<a. This is a device which lends wonderful variety and animation to oratory. By this means we display the inner thoughts of our adversaries as though they were talking with themselves (but we shall only carry con­viction if we represent them as uttering what they may reasonably be supposed to have had in their minds); or without sacrifice of credibility we may introduce conversations between ourselves and others, or of others among themselves, and put words of advice, reproach, complaint, praise or pity into the mouths of appropriate persons.

Read Romans 2:1-4,17

At this point in the letter Paul is dealing with the Jews through the means of impersonation. He’s also bating the Gentiles to set them up for Romans 11 when he condemns anyone for looking down on the Jews and thinking that they are better then them. Romans 11:19-21, “19 Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” 20 That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you.”

2) Questions… Romans 6-7

What is more common than to ask or enquire? For both terms are used indifferently, although the one seems to imply a desire for knowledge, and the other a desire to prove something. But whichever term we use, the thing which they represent admits a variety of figures. We will begin with those which serve (1) to increase the force and cogency of proof to which I assign the first place. A simple question may be illustrated by the line: But who are you and from what shores are come?” On the other hand, a question involves a figure, whenever it is employed not to get information, but to (2) emphasize our point, as in the following examples : … ” How long, Catiline, will you abuse our patience ? ” and ” Do you not see that your plots are all laid bare ? ” with the whole passage that follows. How much greater is the fire of his words as they stand than if he had said, “You have abused our patience a long time,” and “Your plots are all laid bare.” We may also (3) ask what cannot be denied, as ” Was Gaius Fidiculanius Falcula, I ask you, brought to justice?” Or we may put a question to which it is (4) difficult to reply, as in the common forms, How is it possible ?” “How can that be?” Or we may ask a question with a view to (5) throw odium on the person to whom it is addressed, as in the words placed by Seneca in the mouth of Medea: ” What lands dost bid me seek ? ” Or our aim may be (6) to excite pity, as is the case with the question asked by Sinon in Virgil: ” Alas, what lands, he cried, What seas can now receive me?” Or (7) to embarrass our opponent and to deprive him of the power to feign ignorance of our meaning, as Asinius does in the following sentence: ” Do you hear ? The will which we impugn is the work of a madman, not of one who lacked natural affection.” In fact questions admit of infinite variety. They may (8) serve our indignation, … (9) express wonder, … (10) a sharp command, as in: Will they not rush to arms and follow forth From all the city ? ” Or we may (11) ask ourselves, as in the phrase of Terence, “What, then, shall I do ?” …Further, there is the practice of putting the question and answering it oneself, which may have quite a pleasing effect… (12) in the pro Caelio. ” Some one will say, ‘ Is this your moral discipline? Is this the training you would give young men ?’ ” with the whole passage that follows. Then comes his reply, ” Gentlemen, if there were any man with such vigour of mind, with such innate virtue and self-control, etc.” A different method is (13) to ask a question and not to wait for a reply, but to subjoin the reply at once yourself. For example, ” Had you no house ? Yes, you had one. Had you money and to spare ? No, you were in actual want.” This is a figure which some call suggestion.

Read Romans 3:1-10

3) Stirring of Emotion… Romans 8

Accumulation of words and sentences identical in meaning may also be regarded under the head of amplification. For although the climax is not in this case reached by a series of steps, it is none the less attained by the piling up of words. Take the following example: “What was that sword of yours doing, Tubero, the sword you drew on the field of Pharsalus? Against whose body did you aim its point? What meant those arms you bore? Against who were your thoughts, you eyes, your hand, your fiery courage directed on that day? What passion, what desire were yours?” This passage recalls the figure styled sunaqroismo/j by the Greeks, but in that figure it is a number of different things that are accumulated. (Quint. Orat. 8.4.26-27)

As an example… Romans 8:35-39

4) Intensifying Emotion… Romans 9

The figures best adapted for intensifying emotion consist chiefly in simulation. For we may feign that we are angry, glad, afraid, filled with wonder, grief or indignation, or that we wish something, and so on. Hence we get passages like the following: ” I am free, I breathe again,” or, ” It is well,” or, ” What madness is this ? ” or, ” Alas ! for these degenerate days ! ” or, ” Woe is me ; for though all my tears are shed my grief still clings to me deep-rooted in my heart,” or, ” Gape now, wide earth.”

See Romans 9:1-5

Paul seems to be aware of the device (which is typically used as a faking device), but his introductory words of bearing witness in the Spirit and speaking the truth is said in order to stear away from the Romans Christians thinking that he is ‘only’ using a device. Instead, Paul uses the elements of this 4th device, but he wants them to know that it is real and true!

5) Advantage… Romans 1

Deliberative speeches are either of the kind in which the question concerns a choice between two courses of action, or of the kind in which a choice among several is considered. …The orator who gives counsel will throughout his speech properly set up Advantage as his aim, so that the complete economy of his entire speech may be directed to it. Advantage in political deliberation has two aspects : Security and Honor. …The Honorable is divided into the Right and the Praiseworthy. The Right is that which is done in accord with Virtue and Duty. Subheads under the Right are Wisdom, Justice, Courage, and Temperance (Rhet. Her. 3.2.2)

See Romans 1:16-17

Paul first says that his Gospel is honorable. Then he gives two reasons. It is the power of God for salvation and His righteousness is revealed. From there Paul launches into chapter 2 and takes an advantage over both the Jews and the Gentiles.

Those are the 5 devices of Speech Paul uses in Romans. And that’s it for my class tonight. More tomorrow morning starting at 9:00 AM