Structure in rhetorical criticism and the structure of the Sermon on the Plain (Luke 6:20-49)

Paul Douglas Hahn, Marquette University

Abstract

Rhetorical criticism is increasingly applied to scriptural texts, but despite some valuable studies, little attention has been given to the question of how best to determine the structure of a text. After examining the development of the concept of structure in ancient and modern rhetoric and in rhetorical criticism (rhetorical analysis of Scripture), I present a typology of common rhetorical structures. These include: numerical principles (structures based on the numbers two, three, four, etc.); chiasms; inclusions; rhythm; outlining; bridge passages; Semitic parallelism; and catchwords. I trace the historical development of these structures through the centuries, and I survey theories that have been proposed for each of them. To demonstrate these structural principles in actual exegesis, I inspect their application to a specific biblical text, the sermon on the plain, Luke 6:20-49 (Luke's version of the sermon on the mount, Matthew 5-7). Along the way, specific conclusions are drawn about the adequacy of each of these principles in determining the sermon's structure, and the outline for the sermon which I determine to be most likely is proposed. The study concludes with a consideration of the central problem involved in the use of structural principals in rhetorical criticism--bedeviling subjectivism.

Recommended Citation

Paul Douglas Hahn, "Structure in rhetorical criticism and the structure of the Sermon on the Plain (Luke 6:20-49)" (January 1, 1990). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. Paper AAI9117346.
http://epublications.marquette.edu/dissertations/AAI9117346

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