Seeing Things John’s Way: Rhetography and Conceptual Blending in Revelation 14:6-13 -- By: David A. deSilva

Journal: Bulletin for Biblical Research
Volume: BBR 018:2 (NA 2008)
Article: Seeing Things John’s Way: Rhetography and Conceptual Blending in Revelation 14:6-13
Author: David A. deSilva


Seeing Things John’s Way: Rhetography and Conceptual Blending in Revelation 14:6-13

David A. deSilva

Ashland Theological Seminary

During the past decade, socio-rhetorical interpretation has incorporated insights from cognitive science into its interpretive model. The result has been an emphasis on “rhetography,” inviting interpreters to give more explicit attention to the mental images evoked by a particular text, and “conceptual blending,” inviting interpreters to consider what conceptual frames are evoked by these images and how these larger frames supply premises that advance argumentation. This mode of analysis is especially promising in regard to uncovering the argumentative force of narrative and pictorial/visionary texts, like Revelation, that contain relatively few explicit indications of argumentation. The present study undertakes an exploration of Rev 14:6-13 with a view to demonstrating these interpretive tools at work and assessing their promise for interpretation.

Key Words: socio-rhetorical interpretation, conceptual blending, Revelation, wisdom

Although several scholars combine social-scientific exegesis and rhetorical criticism in fruitful ways that deserve the eponym “socio-rhetorical,”1 Vernon Robbins has been at the center of developing socio-rhetorical interpretation as a distinctive, interdisciplinary mode of textual analysis that promises to facilitate “exploration of the fascinating web of reality spun by each of the New Testament writers and their worlds.”2 The first programmatic announcement of this “interpretive analytic” came in two forms.3 Exploring the Texture of Texts: A Guide to Socio-Rhetorical Interpretation

(Valley Forge, PA: Trinity Press International, 1996) offered a more student-centered guide to practicing this analytic. A more thorough exposition of the method (though Robbins himself resists this term), elaborated in conversation with the face of modern New Testament scholarship, appeared as The Tapestry of Early Christian Discourse: Rhetoric, Society, Ideology (London: Routledge, 1996).4

In the past decade, however, socio-rhetorical interpretation has indeed been “very much an approach that is in the process of being shaped.”5 Three areas that have emerged alongside the analysis of the various “textures” as essential

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