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Arguing With Scripture: The Rhetoric of Quotations in the Letters of Paul

, 2004
ISBN: 9780567026309
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Drawing on recent discussions of quotations in the fields of rhetorics, linguistics, and literary studies, Stanley argues that Paul’s explicit appeals to Jewish Scriptures must be analyzed as rhetorical devices that seek to influence the thoughts, feelings, and actions of a first-century audience, an approach that requires a different set of questions and methods than scholars have typically used in their studies of Paul’s quotations.

Key questions include why Paul quoted words of Scripture to support some of his arguments and not others; how quotations help to advance the developing arguments of Paul’s letters; and how a mostly illiterate first-century audience from a variety of backgrounds might have viewed these sudden intrusions of material from a Jewish religious text. Answering these questions requires paying careful attention to the affective and poetic dimensions as well as the intellectual aspects of the original audience’s encounter with the Holy Scriptures of Israel.

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“A careful reading of his biblical argumentation suggests that Paul made a serious effort to frame his quotations so that individuals with a relatively low level of biblical literacy could grasp the rhetorical point of his quotations.” (Page 55)

“how do Paul’s quotations serve to advance the developing arguments of his letters? and” (Page 65)

“This brings us to the passage that frames the quotation in” (Page 146)

“It is no wonder that Paul resorted regularly to quoting from the Jewish Scriptures when addressing the most contentious issues in his churches. Paul knew that only the more literate members of his audience could grasp the full sense of his quotations, but he also knew that full comprehension was not required for his quotations to achieve their rhetorical purpose. As long as the recipients acknowledged the authority of the Jewish Scriptures, direct quotations from the holy text would be greeted with respect and (Paul hoped) submission. Who would dare to argue with the mouthpiece of God?” (Page 59)

“Some of his followers were Jews, but most came from non-Jewish backgrounds. Why, then, did Paul quote so often from the Jewish Scriptures in his letters to these churches?” (Page 1)

  • Title: Arguing With Scripture: The Rhetoric of Quotations in the Letters of Paul
  • Author: Christopher Stanley
  • Publisher: T & T Clark
  • Publication Date: 2004
  • Pages: 208

Christopher D. Stanley is professor of theology and teaches courses in biblical studies and religion and culture at St. Bonaventure University. He is the author of numerous books and articles in biblical studies, including Paul and the Language of Scripture and Arguing with Scripture: The Rhetoric of Quotations in the Letters of Paul.


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  1. Rev. Michael S. Taylor


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