Should Christians Use Rhetoric to Witness?

Folker Siegert, “Homily and Panegyrical Sermon”, Handbook of Classical Rhetoric in the Hellenistic Period, pages 425-426.

The refusal to use fine rhetoric on the part of those who would perhaps have been able to use it—the Cynics in particular—testifies to their aloofness from a society which they criticized.  The low style of the early Christian message has been interpreted that way; and there is no doubt that Christians of the second generation, such as Luke and the author of Hebrews, are more “conformed” and acculturated to Hellenism as is, for example, the Apostle Paul.  In this sense Paul’s scorn of rhetoric (1 Cor. 1:17, 20; 2:4-5, 13 etc.) could be termed “cynical”.  With respect to the paltriness and intellectual mediocrity of many utterances of second-century Christianity, however, it may be asked to what degree rhetorical restraint was based on voluntary discretion.  Wasn’t the Christian mission from its very inception dependent upon the use of the available means of communication?  In line with Matthew 28:18-20 is the fact that the bishops soon became rhetoricians—or, to put it more exactly, that Christian rhetoricians became bishops.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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