Jesus, Rhetoric and Law


This study locates pre-gospel orality and gospel literacy within Greco-Roman rhetorical norms for education and performance. Heavy use of a few basic rhetorical conventions marks the gospel tradition as a marginal yet rhetorically competent attempt to create a Christian public.
The book identifies gnomic sayings as the thickest available sample of gospel rhetorics, an alternative to samples based on chreia and parable. Gnome-use is central throughout ancient rhetorical theory and practice. Gnome is therefore an especially good focus for comparative study, particularly of characterisation and legal topicality. This work establishes a credible model of interaction among the speech-habits of Jesus, those of early Christian oral tradition, and the innovative rhetorics of gospel and epistolary texts. The plurality of rhetorical-criticisms current in New Testament studies is also addressed.

Hardback: List price

EUR €230.00USD $285.00

Biographical Note

Ian H. Henderson, D.Phil. (1988) in New Testament, Oxford, is Associate Professor of New Testament Studies at McGill University. He publishes regularly on questions of rhetoric, orality and literacy in early Christian literature and elsewhere in Greco-Roman culture.

Review Quotes

' ...extraordinary important volume...' Jens Schroerer, Religious Studies Review, 2000.


New Testament specialists, research libraries and advanced students interested in the Gospel, Historical Jesus, Pauline Studies or Greco-Roman rhetorical culture.

Index Card