Rhetorical and New Literary Criticism

Margaret M. Mitchell

in The Oxford Handbook of Biblical Studies

Published in print February 2008 | ISBN: 9780199237777
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology

Rhetorical and New Literary Criticism

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This article provides a sketch of some historically significant moments in the emergence of rhetorical and literary-critical approaches to biblical texts, and gives some methodological pointers and resources for those who seek to comprehend and exercise them. Rhetorical criticism understands a text as dynamic in the sense that it is an instance of communicative persuasion, ‘a set of means chosen and organized with an eye to an audience rather than to self-expression or pure making’. Literary criticism involves a close reading of precise details of the text viewed as a unity (deflecting overemphasis on historical context or the historical information to be gained from it when treated it as a source) and appreciates especially the dynamism of the world inside the text, as a system of complex and meaningful interactions among its constituent parts.

Keywords: biblical scholarship; rhetorical criticism; new literary criticism; New Testament

Article.  8314 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Religious Studies ; Judaism and Jewish Studies ; Christianity

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