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New Testament Rhetoric: An Introductory Guide to the Art of Persuasion in and of the New Testament

, 2009
ISBN: 9781556359293
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This much-needed introduction to the ancient art of persuasion as it is used in the New Testament doesn’t only explore the use of rhetorical tools and devices, it introduces everything ancient speakers and writers used to convince their audiences. New Testament scholar Ben Witherington argues that rhetorical criticism is a more fruitful approach to the New Testament epistles than literary and discourse criticism. He guides readers through the varied uses of rhetoric throughout the New Testament, showing them how writers used rhetorical tools to convince their readers and listeners of the Christian message.

In the Logos edition, this volume is enhanced by amazing functionality. Important terms link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library. Perform powerful searches to find exactly what you’re looking for. Take the discussion with you using tablet and mobile apps. With Logos Bible Software, the most efficient and comprehensive research tools are in one place, so you get the most out of your study.

Don’t miss another great resource from Ben Witherington, The Living Legacy: The Soul in Paraphrase, the Heart in Pilgrimage.

Resource Experts
  • Explores the use of rhetoric in the New Testament
  • Argues for the superiority of rhetorical criticism over literary and source criticism
  • Guides readers through specific uses of rhetoric throughout the New Testament
  • The Oral Cultures of the Biblical World
  • Defining and Refining the Craft of Persuasion
  • Gospels of Persuasion: Mark and Luke
  • Early Christian Homilies: the Rhetorical Speech Summaries in Acts
  • Paul the Rhetor and Writer
  • The Elementary Rhetoric of the Pastorals
  • The Rhetoric of the General Epistles
  • The Difference Rhetoric Makes to NT Interpretation
  • Postscript: The Rhetoric of Preaching and the Preaching of Rhetoric

Top Highlights

“There were three different species of ancient rhetoric—forensic, deliberative, and epideictic.” (Page 13)

“Rhetorical criticism is by definition the study of rhetoric, whether ancient or modern, with a broad definition of rhetoric being the art of persuasion, though sometimes it has degenerated into the art of speaking well, or mere verbal eloquence.” (Page 6)

“What is especially interesting about the NT is that it more frequently exhibits deliberative rhetoric as it seeks to persuade people to change their beliefs and behaviors.” (Page 14)

“In regard to style, there were two major styles of rhetoric—the more reserved and formal Atticizing style, and the more florid and luxurious Asiatic style.” (Page 15)

“The letters we find in the NT are mostly far longer than secular letters of their era. Actually they are not in the main letters, though they have epistolary openings and closings sometimes. They are in fact discourses, homilies, and rhetorical speeches of various sorts that the creators could not be present to deliver to a particular audience, and so instead they sent a surrogate to proclaim them. These documents would not be handed to just anyone. From what we can tell, Paul expected one of his co-workers such as Timothy, Titus, or Phoebe to go and orally deliver the contents of the document in a rhetorically effective manner.” (Page 3)

This will surely become the choice resource . . . for a main text in courses in rhetorical criticism.

David A. deSilva, Trustees Distinguished Professor of New Testament and Greek, Ashland Theological Seminary

Witherington has provided a helpful . . . primer. His easy familiarity with the ancient sources makes this an especially user-friendly introduction to the importance of ancient rhetoric for historical study of the New Testament.

Joel B. Green, professor of New Testament Interpretation, Fuller Theological Seminary

For those who want to add rhetorical analysis to their interpretation of the New Testament, Ben Witherington provides easy access to a not easily accessible subject.

Duane Watson, professor of New Testament studies, School of Theology, Malone College

Anyone who is interested in the contours of early Christian discourse or would like to be able to preach and teach as persuasively as the biblical authors will find this volume highly informative and immensely helpful.

Michael Bird, tutor in New Testament, Highland Theological College

  • Title: New Testament Rhetoric: An Introductory Guide to the Art of Persuasion in and of the New Testament
  • Author: Ben Witherington III
  • Publisher: Cascade
  • Print Publication Date: 2009
  • Logos Release Date: 2015
  • Language: English
  • Resources: 1
  • Format: Digital › Logos Research Edition
  • Subjects: Rhetoric in the Bible; Rhetorical criticism; Bible. N.T. › Language, style
  • ISBNs: 9781556359293, 1556359292
  • Resource Type: Monograph
  • Metadata Last Updated: 2022-09-30T02:01:24Z
Ben Witherington III

Ben Witherington III (PhD, University of Durham) is Jean R. Amos Professor of New Testament for Doctoral Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary. A prominent evangelical scholar, he is also on the doctoral faculty at St. Andrews University in Scotland. Witherington has written over forty books, including The Jesus Quest and The Paul Quest, both of which were selected as top biblical studies works by Christianity Today. His other works include The Indelible Image, Women and the Genesis of ChristianityThe Gospel CodeA Week in the Life of Corinth and commentaries on the entire New Testament. He also writes for many church and scholarly publications and is a frequent contributor to Patheos and Beliefnet. Witherington is an elected member of the prestigious Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas, a society dedicated to New Testament studies. He is a John Wesley Fellow for Life, a research fellow at Cambridge University and a member of numerous professional organizations, including the Society of Biblical Literature, Society for the Study of the New Testament and the Institute for Biblical Research. He previously taught at institutions like Ashland Theological Seminary, Vanderbilt University, Duke Divinity School and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. An ordained pastor in the United Methodist Church and a popular lecturer, Witherington has presented seminars for churches, colleges and biblical meetings around the world. He has led numerous study tours through the lands of the Bible and is known for bringing the text to life through incisive historical and cultural analysis. Along with many interviews on radio and television networks across the country, Witherington has been seen in programs such as 60 Minutes, 20/20, Dateline and the Peter Jennings ABC special Jesus and Paul—The Word and the Witness


5 ratings

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  1. William Delgado Heidinger
    Waiting for the new edition of this book.
  2. Jintae Seok

    Jintae Seok


  3. David



    Thought provoking material.
  4. Richard



    This is the first time I read a book by Ben Witherington III. I was interested in the topic of Rhetoric in the NT. Mostly this book talks about St. Paul and gives many new insights. Witherington III writes clear and this book did not become too technical, still, it is a good source for academic work. The work also provides many questions for the readers. As working through questions the reader can become well acquainted with the topic. Then the author gives interesting facts of the ANE, like writing tools. Next, this book gives new insights on the Theological discussion of Romans 7. "Quintilian says impersonation “is sometimes introduced even with controversial themes, which are drawn from history and involve the appearance of definite historical characters as pleaders” (Institutio oratoria 3.8.52). In this case, Adam is the historical figure being impersonated in Romans 7:7–13, and the theme is most certainly controversial and drawn from history. Indeed, Paul has introduced this theme already in Rom 5:12–21. One must bear in mind that this discourse would have been heard seriatim, which means the audience would have heard about Adam only a few minutes before hearing the material in Romans 7." Ben Witherington III, New Testament Rhetoric: An Introductory Guide to the Art of Persuasion in and of the New Testament (Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2009), 132. With this and other parts, it stands against many of the Protestant and Calvinistic views, like Predestination and Saved by Grace Alone. With these I do not fully agree, still, it is good to know the other explanations on these topics. These topics can be extremely complex, which brought many discussions throughout Church History. Finally, this books learns you many new facts and insights and will be a great work for starting novel academic debates into the NT scholarly world.
  5. David



    Great lucid writing
  6. Bill Shewmaker
Save on Publisher Spotlight through March 31!


Digital list price: $21.99
Regular price: $17.99
Save $10.00 (55%)