Rhetorical Analysis of the Book of Galatians, Part 2 -- By: Walter B. Russell III

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 150:600 (Oct 1993)
Article: Rhetorical Analysis of the Book of Galatians, Part 2
Author: Walter B. Russell III


Rhetorical Analysis of the Book of Galatians, Part 2

Walter B. Russell III

[Walter B. Russell III is Associate Professor of New Testament, Talbot School of Theology, La Mirada, California.]

[This is article two in a two-part series.]

The previous article in this series presented rhetorical analysis as a tool for analyzing the Bible. A six-step procedure was adopted and the first four steps were discussed.1

1. Determine the rhetorical unit to be studied, which corresponds to the pericope in form criticism. (Obviously the unit in this study is the Epistle to the Galatians.)

2. Define the rhetorical situation of the unit. This roughly corresponds to the Sitz im Leben of form criticism. (The situation in Galatia that called forth Paul’s epistle is the entry into the region of Jewish Christian teachers, apparently from Jerusalem or elsewhere in Judea, who advocated the long-held Jewish model of Gentile attachment to Israel by becoming proselytes. Perhaps they questioned Paul’s credentials and appealed to the Jerusalem apostles. They taught that Gentile Christians must be “Judaized” if they were to become a part of God’s people [Gal 2:14].)

3. Determine the one overriding rhetorical problem that may be present and particularly visible at the beginning of the discourse. (The rhetorical problem that functions as an organizing principle for Galatians is twofold: Paul was responding to the two problems created by the Judaizers regarding the Galatians’ identity and their behavior as the people of God. Should they adopt

Jewish practices to become a part of the true people of God? Should they take up the yoke of the Law to guide their behavior?)

4. Determine which of the three species of rhetoric the rhetorical unit fits—judicial, deliberative, or epideictic. (Galatians is of the deliberative species because Paul was seeking to persuade his audience to make a definitive decision about their identity and behavior in the immediate future.)

5. Consider the arrangement of material in the text in terms of its subdivisions, persuasive effect of their parts, their coordination, and devices of style.

6. Review the process of analysis by looking over the entire unit and its success in addressing the rhetorical situation and what the implications may be for the speaker or audience.

Step Five in the Rhetorical Analysis of Galatians:
Determine the Arrangement of the Material

The ...

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