Structure in rhetorical criticism and the structure of the Sermon on the Plain (Luke 6:20-49)
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.
Paul Douglas Hahn,
"Structure in rhetorical criticism and the structure of the Sermon on the Plain (Luke 6:20-49)"
(January 1, 1990).
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