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New Testament Rhetorical Narratology: An Invitation toward Integration


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We are witnessing these days a remarkable rapprochement between the study of rhetoric and the study of narrative. Indeed, these two approaches to New Testament texts are apparently so different that in 2008, Vernon Robbins could lament the “widespread consensus” among scholars that it is “not possible to formulate a systematic rhetorical approach to narrative portions of the Gospels and Acts.” And yet, this bifurcation has been shortsighted. It is not only possible but also necessary and beneficial to bring the resources and insights of narratology into conversation with the resources and insights of rhetorical criticism. This article participates in the move to build bridges across the theoretical crevasses that have divided “New Testament rhetoric” and “New Testament narrative.” First, I take a panoramic view, broadly outlining several reasons that the dividing lines continue to hold currency in New Testament scholarship, and why these views are misguided. I then propose that we reimagine the boundaries of the “New Testament and rhetoric” to include narrative as a mode of persuasion in and of itself, using resources from the literary subfield of rhetorical narratology. Finally, I offer a brief analysis of the uses of speech and silence in Acts 15:1–35 in order to demonstrate how the tools of rhetorical narratology can help us to think in fresh ways about the rhetorical force of New Testament narratives.


Abstract

We are witnessing these days a remarkable rapprochement between the study of rhetoric and the study of narrative. Indeed, these two approaches to New Testament texts are apparently so different that in 2008, Vernon Robbins could lament the “widespread consensus” among scholars that it is “not possible to formulate a systematic rhetorical approach to narrative portions of the Gospels and Acts.” And yet, this bifurcation has been shortsighted. It is not only possible but also necessary and beneficial to bring the resources and insights of narratology into conversation with the resources and insights of rhetorical criticism. This article participates in the move to build bridges across the theoretical crevasses that have divided “New Testament rhetoric” and “New Testament narrative.” First, I take a panoramic view, broadly outlining several reasons that the dividing lines continue to hold currency in New Testament scholarship, and why these views are misguided. I then propose that we reimagine the boundaries of the “New Testament and rhetoric” to include narrative as a mode of persuasion in and of itself, using resources from the literary subfield of rhetorical narratology. Finally, I offer a brief analysis of the uses of speech and silence in Acts 15:1–35 in order to demonstrate how the tools of rhetorical narratology can help us to think in fresh ways about the rhetorical force of New Testament narratives.


Introduction


We are witnessing these days a remarkable rapprochement between the study of rhetoric and the study of narrative. Indeed, these two approaches to New Testament texts are apparently so different that in 2008, Vernon Robbins could lament the “widespread consensus” among scholars that it is “not possible to formulate a systematic rhetorical approach to narrative portions of the Gospels and Acts.”1 Similarly, two years later, Paul Lampe explicitly asked:


How is ancient rhetoric to be related to ancient narratological beginnings, and how, in this combination, can both be made fruitful for New Testament research? This is still a theoretical task to be tackled … [I]t remains a desideratum to define the relationship between ancient rhetoric and ancient theoretical beginnings of a narratology.2

It is easy enough to understand the source of the consensus to which ­Robbins referred. These forms of New Testament scholarship use different ­vocabularies, focus on different bodies of texts, and compare their texts against different models and exemplars.3 For a long time, these approaches have been ­cloistered away in separate silos:4 “Rhetoric” concerns classical rhetorical ­conventions; “narrative” concerns plot, setting, character, and point of view. Rhetorical ­critics study arguments,5 while narrative critics study stories.6 Rhetorical critics love Paul,7 while narrative critics love Jesus.8

This bifurcation has been shortsighted. It is not only possible but also necessary and beneficial to bring the resources and insights of narratology into conversation with the resources and insights of rhetorical criticism.9 Lately, there have been signs of increased momentum in this direction, and for good reason.10 A signal indicator is the number of “turns” that appear in New Testament studies of recent decades. One can hardly read around in New Testament scholarship without stumbling on a reference to a “literary turn,” a “narrativist turn,” an “interpretive/hermeneutical turn,” a “linguistic turn,” a “rhetorical turn,” or (according to some) a “rhetorical half-turn.”11 So many turns might make us dizzy. But it is worth interrogating the “widespread consensus” ­Robbins identified, because destabilization can cause us to stumble out of disciplinary bounds into new theoretical terrain, where studies of rhetoric and studies of narrative can mutually enrich one another. Where once we fell out, we are beginning to fall together.


This article participates in the move to build bridges across the theoretical crevasses that have divided “New Testament rhetoric” and “New Testament narrative.” First, I take a panoramic view, broadly outlining several reasons that the dividing lines continue to hold currency in New Testament scholarship, and why these views are misguided. I then propose that we explicitly reimagine the boundaries of the “New Testament and rhetoric” to include narrative as a mode of persuasion in and of itself, using resources from the literary subfield of rhetorical narratology. Finally, I offer a brief analysis of the uses of speech and silence in Acts 15:1–35 in order to demonstrate how integrating narrative-critical and rhetorical approaches can help us to think in fresh ways about the rhetorical force of New Testament narratives.


“It is not True, This Story”12: Challenging the Received Narrative


The received story of our disciplinary history contributes to the sense that the divided trajectories of “rhetorical criticism” and “narrative criticism”13 have been both inevitable and appropriate. For example, some scholars are suspicious of integrating rhetorical and narrative criticisms because they mistakenly consider ancient “rhetoric” and “narrative” to be mutually exclusive categories.14 The classical definition of “rhetoric” (ῥητορική), based upon ­ancient treatises and handbooks,15 concerns the systematic, reasoned oratorical methods by which the successful ῥήτωρ persuades his audience, including the five elements of invention, arrangement, memory, delivery, and style.16 “Narrative” (ἱστορία, λόγος, διήγησις, μῦθος), though debated in antiquity as today,17 includes literary conventions like plot complications (δέσις), reversals (περιπέτεια), denoument (λύσις), and emplotment (μῦθος). The generic distinction between “rhetoric” and “narrative” can be traced at least as far back as Aristotle’s enormously influential work on literary aesthetics – the Rhetoric, focused on the art of oral persuasion,18 and the Poetics, concerning ποίησις (lit: “making”)19 or literary construction.20 Importantly, Aristotle’s Rhetoric and Poetics have circulated as separate volumes for centuries, and continue to be referenced as such in contemporary scholarship.21

Today, studies of rhetoric have expanded beyond the historical-positivist “Heritage School” (which generally considers the classical rhetorical canons to be stable),22 to include the “Dialogue/Dialectical School” (which emphasizes the rhetoricity and power dynamics inherent to all language).23 Dennis Stamps’ summary is apt: “There is no single overarching methodology … in the current practice of rhetorical criticism of the New Testament.”24 Over the past several decades, practitioners of these different “rhetorical” approaches have engaged in lively and – at times – contentious debates.25 Unfortunately, they generally exacerbate division rather than facilitating mutually enriched interpretive insights.26 Despite the diversity found under the quite large umbrella of “rhetorical” New Testament criticism, none of these approaches explicitly considers narrative’s formal features.


My point is that scholars concerned with New Testament rhetoric should be considering narrative’s poetic features. Our evaluative criteria ought to include both aesthetics and praxis,27 because generic elements shape an audience’s comprehension of a text;28 as genre theorist John Frow writes, “[T]he patterns of genre … are at once shaped by a type of situation and in turn shape the rhetorical actions that are performed in response to it.”29 In other words, genres are socially constructed responses to particular rhetorical exigencies; a narrative’s formal generic features are indissolubly linked to its rhetorical power.


And ancient writers knew this. Ancient theorists and storytellers alike ­believed that narratives guide behavior; this is why Cicero identifies a natural affinity between storytellers and rhetoricians (De or. 3.27), and Quintilian ­recommends that his students learn the storytelling skills of the tragedians ­Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides (Inst. 10.1.66–68).30 Ancient literature contains many examples of narrative’s persuasive functions. For instance, Livy reports that the eloquent Menenius Agrippa calms a group of seceding plebs by telling a fable about the body parts, all of whom need each other (2.32). Paradigmatic uses of stories as moralistic models for imitation appear as far back as Homer’s Iliad (1.259–274) and were widespread throughout antiquity;31 we need only recall Livy’s familiar admonition: “What chiefly makes the study of history wholesome and profitable is this, that you should … choose for yourself … what to imitate, from these mark for avoidance what is shameful” (Ab Urbe Condita 5–7).32

Aristotle recognized that each narrative implicitly argues for a certain view of the world over and against other possible configurations.33 Despite the fact that the Rhetoric and Poetics have circulated in separate volumes, practically speaking, Aristotle repeatedly links poetics with the story’s rhetorical effects. In the Poetics, for instance, he describes tragedy as “an imitation of action … effecting through pity and fear the purification of such emotions” (14.1453b29–34).34 This notion of κάθαρσις corresponds to the discussion of πάθος as a persuasive mode in the Rhetoric (2.2–11); the efficacy of both relies in varying degrees upon temporality and succession.35 Thus, as Douglas Hesse has demonstrated more thoroughly, we can read the Poetics as advancing “a fourth mode of persuasion – the mimetic or narrative – that complements and completes the logical, ethical, and pathetic forwarded in [Aristotle’s] Rhetoric.”36 For Aristotle and many later rhetorical theorists, constructing “narratives” and employing “rhetoric” are not mutually exclusive activities. Treating them as separate, reified categories is no longer tenable in New Testament studies.37

Having discussed the problematic view that a strict rhetoric/poetic dichotomy originated in antiquity, we can now consider another barrier to integrating rhetorical and narratological approaches in New Testament studies: the critiques levied at New Testament narrative criticism.38 These critiques take one of two forms, which are – paradoxically – opposites. On the one hand, biblical narrative criticism has been criticized as “intrinsically and rigorously ahistorical [and] antihistorical”;39 on the other hand, it has been judged as insufficiently different from traditional historical-critical scholarship.40

By way of example, let me present one aspect of the poststructuralist critique of narrative-critical readings of the Gospels: their approach to characterization. Poststructuralists often assert that narrative critics of the Gospels inappropriately project modernist conceptions of the individual onto static literary characters, erroneously assuming that they are complex, autonomous agents like real people.41 Scott Elliott laments the extent to which New Testament scholars “resort to concerns about a character’s agency or subjectivity (e.g., his or her interior thoughts, feelings, or motivations),”42 calling these concerns “anachronistic projections of post-Freudian concepts of individuality.”43 The fact that every story is mediated by a narrator means that the reader cannot discern a character in a story apart from the telling through which it is mediated (in Seymour Chatman’s terms, the “discourse”).44 Thus, Elliott insists that “represented speech in narrative is an unreliable indicator of a character’s essence because dialogue does not function referentially vis-à-vis the person, but rather reflects back upon the discourse itself, mirroring the narrative figure.”45 Essentially, poststructuralists object to “humanist theories of character”: readings that involve “attributing unity, coherence, and psychological depth to the figures in a story and treating them as though they were separable from the texts which form them.”46

I will return to this point below; suffice it to say that the above critiques may well have applied to narratology’s earliest iterations,47 which were often associated with structuralism’s methodological pitfalls.48 However, the limitations of formalist-structuralist brands of narratology are not inherent to narrative inquiry per se; they stem from narratology’s separation from rhetoric. Michael Kearns is right: Structuralist narratology’s limitations are “symptomatic of the continuing and unfortunate separation between the fields of rhetoric and literature.”49

Structuralism is not the only narratological mode, however. An array of new literary approaches has led Stephen Moore to marvel at narratology’s “makeover.”50 Diverse schools of thought have mushroomed exponentially around every dimension of the communicative process, including the three fundamental elements of sender (or author), message (or text), and receiver (or reader).51 Narratological theories have expanded beyond the decontextualized New Critical approaches of the twentieth century to socio-cultural contextualist frameworks that take ancient literary practices into account without facilely equating them with authorial intent.52

Although narratology did not develop in its modern form until the mid-twentieth century,53 and though ancient literature does not include concepts like the narratee or implied author, many recent narratological developments are closely aligned with the concepts and questions of classical antiquity.54 As I discussed above, ancient writers were well aware of and concerned with narrative’s functions, forms, and features; for them, narrative’s “what,” “how,” and “why” were all inextricably connected. In short, they were concerned with narrative rhetoric.


The rhetoricity of New Testament narratives is not in question.55 It is abundantly clear that the biblical writers sought to persuade their audiences of their worldviews and to influence them on multiple levels.56 John 20:31 says as much: “These things are written so that (ἵνα) you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and so that (ἵνα) believing, you might have life in his name.” Luke similarly tells Theophilus that he has written “so that (ἵνα) you might know for certain/with assurance (τὴν ἀσφάλειαν) the things about which you have been taught” (1:4). Without making specific claims about authorial intent,57 we can generally affirm that the writers of New Testament narratives sought to shape their readers ethically and spiritually.58

To sum up the foregoing discussion, the supposedly Aristotelian origins of the poetic/rhetoric distinction, overly simplistic accounts of “New Testament nar­rative criticism,” and the institutional structures that perpetuate these views together make the dichotomy between “rhetoric” and “narrative” seem inevitable, but it is not; the two were not diametrically opposed in ancient thought. Rather, a strict separation between rhetoric and narrative has always been artificial. In fact, in a pragmatic sense, the “rhetoric/poetic” dichotomy is anachronistic; the distinction between them has distorted ancient witnesses regarding narrative and rhetoric. Uniting narratological and rhetorical approaches to New Testament narratives is more appropriate than continuing on as though they are completely foreign to one another. The time has come to integrate the full range of insights from classical and “New Rhetorical”59 approaches with the close attention to narrative elements advocated by contemporary narratology.


New Testament Rhetorical Narratology


Once we agree to integrate rhetorical and narrative criticisms, the operative question becomes how to do so. Despite recognition that the New Testament narratives are meant to persuade, and despite affinities between narrative and rhetorical criticisms,60 a clear method for analyzing ancient narratives’ rhetoricity has eluded us.61 I suggest that we reimagine the boundaries of the “New Testament and rhetoric” to include narrative as its own mode of persuasion. A relatively recent development in literary theory offers useful resources for this endeavor.


Narratives’ rhetorical power sits squarely at the center of a subfield of literary theory called rhetorical narratology. In Narrative as Rhetoric,literary critic James Phelan insists that the phrase “narrative as rhetoric” does not mean “narrative uses rhetoric or has a rhetorical dimension. It means instead that narrative is not just story but also action, the telling of a story by someone to someone on some occasion for some purpose.”62

Rhetorical narratology recognizes that – contrary to contemporary parlance – rhetoric is not simply “cheap talk” and narrative is never “just a story.” Telling a story is a rhetorical act; narratives create rhetorical effects as narratives. ­Kearns, who draws upon speech-act theory to develop and refine rhetorical narratology,63 describes the approach as a melding of “narratology’s tools for analyzing texts and rhetoric’s tools for analyzing the interplay between texts and contexts in order better to understand how audiences experience narratives.”64

A brief overview is in order. In The Cambridge Companion to Narrative, Phelan sets forth six core principles for a rhetorical theory of narrative.65 First and foremost, “narrative is a rhetorical action in which somebody tries to accomplish some purpose(s) by telling somebody else that something happened.” Second, there is a “recursive relationship” between the points of the “rhetorical triangle” (speaker, text, and audience).66 Third, we can distinguish between different “audiences” who are variously constituted by and/or responsive to textual cues (i.e., implied reader, narratee, etc.). Fourth, readers respond to three different narrative dimensions: the mimetic, thematic, and synthetic.67 Fifth, “readers make three main types of narrative judgment” – interpretive, ethical, and aesthetic – each of which can “overlap with” the others. Finally, a rhetorical approach to narrative recognizes narrative progression as “governed by both a textual and a readerly dynamics”68 that operate on both “story” and “discourse” levels.


Current psychological studies on the experience of reading/hearing stories provide fitting vocabulary for describing the “readerly dynamics” to which Phelan refers. Formal literary features contribute to narrative’s rhetoricity insofar as they facilitate what social psychologist Melanie Green calls “narrative transportation,” or absorption into the story.69 Several empirical studies have demonstrated that an audience’s level of transportation corresponds to the level of influence the story will have on their beliefs and behaviors later. This is because a truly engrossed audience engages with the story experientially. If the narrative is coherent, plausible, and adheres to genre expectations, a typical audience will process the story both intensely and uncritically; they will be less likely to develop rational counter-arguments and more likely to relate personally to the characters.70 Communication theorists Susanne Kinnebrock and Helena Bilandzic add that “narrativity factors” (a story’s unique textual features like direct dialogue, conflict, causality, etc.) can “enhance or interfere with” intense and uncritical processing (and thus influence a narrative’s persuasive potential).71

Let me illustrate by returning to the aforementioned poststructuralist critique of narratologists’ treatments of characterization, specifically character speech.72 It is true that literary characters are not historical entities that one can uncover or understand apart from the discourse that depicts them. We should not impute human intentionality onto characters such that we forget they are not actually “real” people, but semiotic representations, “fabricated creatures … paper people, without flesh and blood.”73 Still, John Darr is also right: “Characters are not just words … or textual functions, but rather, affective and realistic personal images generated by text and reader.”74 And these “paper people,” as “personal images generated by text and reader,” play important roles in the Lukan narrative’s rhetorical agenda. Even as literary constructs, characters influence readers in complex and significant ways.


Narratologists agree that character speech contributes to characterization, which is itself partisan and therefore constitutes one “available means of persuasion” (to use the Aristotelian phrase). What Mary Magdalene says upon encountering the risen Jesus, for example, subtly invites readers to reject or accept her views, to judge her positively or negatively, to relate to her or to disassociate from her (John 20:11–18). Character speech is always an implicit form of argumentation, functioning – as Socrates described the purpose of speech – to “lead souls by persuasion.”75 Character speech thus plays a key role in a narrative’s rhetorical project; as a narrativity factor, character speech can enhance or interfere with narrative transportation.


Asking about the rhetorical functions of character speech cannot be equated with anachronistically projecting post-Freudian concepts of individuality upon a textual construction, nor is it primarily about extratextual referentiality. Rather, it is a recognition of – and an attempt to account for – the fact that in practice, readers naturally make inferences and judgments about characters. In the absence of textual features (like anachronisms or grammatical errors) that might draw attention to the narrative’s constructedness,76 readers intuitively relate to characters as though these “paper people” were human. In the following section, I offer a brief analysis of the uses of speech and silence in Acts 15:1–35 in order to illustrate how the tools of rhetorical narratology can help us to think in fresh ways about New Testament narratives’ rhetorical force.


The Jerusalem Council: A Short Case Study


Acts 15:1–35 describes the famous Jerusalem Council, convened to address the complexities that arose as Gentiles joined the fledgling Christian community; Pharisaic Judaizers in Antioch are opposing Paul and Barnabas, insisting that Gentiles must be circumcised and observe the Mosaic law. Paul and Barnabas, unable to resolve the dispute, seek advice from the leaders in Jerusalem.


This passage includes public speeches – a topic that has garnered considerable attention, especially among German scholars.77 Indeed, rhetorical analyses of the formal public speeches in Acts represent one of the rare cases where classical rhetorical critics have ventured into narrative territory.78 Scholars like George Kennedy and Marion Soards have identified Peter’s speech in 15:7–11 as deliberative rhetoric, which is focused on convincing an audience toward some future action for their own benefit.79 The goal of deliberative rhetoric is to overcome stasis, or conflict, and thus to arrive at homonoia, or concord.80 Thus, the use of this kind of speech in Acts 15 coheres with classical convention and facilitates this crucial moment of apostolic decision-making.


Though a classical rhetorical focus offers useful insights, it also has several limitations. For instance, the common emphasis on oratorical conventions has led to a general disregard for the rhetorical power of silence. This is unfortunate because, as I explore more fully below, the silences of both characters and narrators can be influential narrativity factors – aspects of the narrative design that facilitate readerly transportation and thus narrative persuasiveness. Rhetorical approaches also tend to assess the apostolic speeches apart from questions about how the larger story is told.81 Doing so obscures the fact that, as Booth insists and Phelan summarizes, all writers make a choice about, “not whether to use rhetoric but rather about which kind to use – that associated with overt commentary or with the withholding of commentary, with the presentation of dramatic scenes or summaries of events, and so on.”82 A strictly rhetorical approach to Acts 15:1–35 cannot account for story dynamics like plot and character, nor does it address narrational techniques like “the withholding of commentary” (i.e., narratorial silences).


We might contrast this with a strictly narratological approach like Alex Cheung’s analysis of the Jerusalem Council.83 Cheung situates the Council within the broader context of Paul’s missionary reports (14:27–15:35),84 attends to overall plot dynamics,85 and even considers the “climactic silence on the floor of the assembly.”86 A narratological approach illuminates two major themes in Acts 15:1–35: what distinguishes “insiders” from “outsiders,” and how to resolve conflicts between such groups.87 Nevertheless, narratology stops short of considering how narrative dynamics might be functioning rhetorically with respect to Luke’s88 readers.89

Merging rhetorical and narratological insights can help us to see that Acts 15:1–35 not only concerns insiders and outsiders; it creates insider-outsider boundary markers as well. To begin with, the account simultaneously paints a picture of dissension and decorum. On the one hand, there is “much debate” (πολλῆς … ζητήσεως, 15:7); on the other hand, while Paul and Barnabas speak, the others keep silent, listening attentively (ἐσίγησεν … καὶ ἤκουον, 15:12). James, waiting patiently, only replies, “after they become silent” (μετὰ … τὸ σιγῆσαι, 15:13). In this way, James models a perceptive, purposeful listening that engenders rhetorical agency. He then begins with an appeal: “Brothers, listen to me.” Twice in the space of two verses (15:12–13), Luke weds the verbs σιγάω (“to be silent”) and ἀκούω (“to listen”). How are these references working in the narrative?


I offer two suggestions. First, as mentioned above, we ought to recognize that silence itself is a potentially powerful narrativity factor; and, second, diverse ancient perspectives on speech and silence form part of the New Testament narratives’ rhetorical backdrop – part of the extratextual repertoires from which implied readers draw in the process of making mimetic, thematic, and/or synthetic judgments. At the same time, the multilayered, recursive relationship between “narrator, tale, and audience” leads the rhetorical-narratological critic to recognize “that individual narratives explicitly or implicitly establish their own ethical standards and, therefore, [the critic] seeks to make narrative judgments from the inside out (that is, on the basis of those standards).”90 Thus, we should ask how Acts establishes its own ethical standards regarding speech and silence.


Recently, rhetorical critics outside of biblical studies have begun to explore how, far from simply an innocuous absence of language, silence is multivalent and malleable and for that reason can be both meaningful and memorable.91 As an aspect of speech, silence can communicate thundering significances. But these are not always obvious. The significances of silence are context-contingent; a reader will make different judgments about the silences at the Jerusalem Council, for example, depending on her or his position vis-à-vis the text (contemporary, flesh and blood reader, implied reader, ideal reader, etc.). To adapt the famous phrase from speech-act theory, we can “do things with silence” – silence can be a kind of speech act with different illocutionary force depending on the temporal, geographical, or cultural contexts.92

Ancient rhetoricians emphasized the persuasive potency of what remains unspoken through literary devices such as allusion, irony, or riddle. The classical rhetorical handbooks often discuss how one might use what is unspoken to convince an audience;93 Quintilian, for instance, recommends hinting at certain points rather than stating them explicitly, since then the hearer will “be led to seek out the secret which he would not believe if he heard it openly stated, and to believe in that which he has found out for himself” (Inst. 9.2.71).


This insight about the rhetorical power of what remains unsaid is especially relevant when considering narrative, where different kinds of silence affect readers’ experiences and interpretive decisions. At times, narrators merely report speech through indirect discourse – as in Matt. 9:33, where, following an exorcism, a previously mute man “spoke” (ἐλάλησεν), but the reader never hears what he said. This is a silence on the “discourse level” (a silence of the narrator).94 At other times, narrators explicitly state that a character remains silent – as in Acts 9:7, where Paul’s compatriots on the Damascus road stand “speechless” (ἐνεοί) while Paul sees a vision. This is silence on the “story level” (the silence of characters). Silences of narrators and silences of characters prompt readers to interpret what they do not “hear.”95

In the Lukan narrative, silence has diverse functions. It can indicate fear – as implied when the Lord tells Paul in Acts 18:9, “Do not be afraid. Speak and do not be silent” (μὴ σιωπήσῃς). Silence can denote respectful listening – as in Acts 15:12, when the elders “keep quiet and listen” (᾿Εσίγησεν … καὶ ἤκουον). Or silence can protect – as when, in Acts 23:22, the chiliarch commands Paul’s nephew to “blab to no one” (μηδενὶ ἐκλαλῆσαι) about the plot against Paul’s life. Silence can be imposed externally (a silencing, like when Gabriel makes Zechariah mute in Luke 1:20), or silence can be an intentional choice to refrain from dialogue (as when Jesus stays silent during his trial in Luke 23:9).96

Keeping in mind the ancient recognition of silence’s power, as well as the diverse functions silence plays in Luke’s narrative as a whole, we can now return to the silent listening at the Jerusalem Council of Acts 15. The depiction of the apostles’ silence and conversational turn-taking fits within a broader Roman ideal.97 Roman writers celebrated silent listening in public assemblies: Cicero praises the assembly, saying, “You are attentive and you listen in silence, as you should” (Clu. 156). For him, an audience’s silence indicates the quality of what is spoken; thus, he makes this appeal: “I beg you, listen to what I still have to say with the same attention that you have granted me so far; you can be certain that I am not going to say anything that may seem unworthy of this gathering and this silence” (Clu. 66). Tacitus similarly extols the virtues of “assisting somebody in the midst of a silent audience” (Dial. 6.4). Pliny the Younger negatively contrasts the senate’s turbulent political debates of his day with the assemblies of previous generations, who received candidates in great silence (silentium summum [Ep. 3.20.5]).


One might contrast this Roman view of silences in the assembly with other ancient writers who disparage group silences. Certain Greek writers in particular assume that silence in an assembly signals timidity, embarrassment, or submission. Herodotus, for example, writes that before their king, the Persians “remained silent and did not dare manifest an opinion” (7.10). However, the apostles’ silence in Acts 15 is not passive or impotent but generative – the account ends with the group generating a solution, about which the Antiochene Christians “rejoice” (15:35).


We should take none of this for granted. The dignified tone and silent listening of insiders in Acts 15 stands in stark contrast to the unruly mob mayhem later in Acts. In Thessalonica, for example, ruffians “form a mob” (ὀχλοποιέω) and set the city in an uproar (ἐθορύβουν) in response to the gospel (17:5). When Demetrius incites an angry riot in Ephesus, Luke twice mentions the crowd’s “confusion” (σύγχυσις, 19:29, 32) – the same word the Septuagint has for “Babel” (Gen. 11:9) and for the Philistines’ “panic” as they kill one other on the battlefield (1 Sam. 14:20). Three times in Acts 19, Luke repeats that the Ephesian crowd is shouting (κραζω),98 and 19:32 tells us “some were shouting one thing, some another” (ἄλλοι μὲν οὖν ἄλλο τι ἔκραζον). Later, when Paul is in Jerusalem, Acts 21:34 has a similar phrase: “some in the crowd were calling out one thing; others something else” (ἄλλοι δὲ ἄλλο τι ἐπεφώνουν); they are so loud that the officer is “unable to find out the truth” (μὴ δυναμένου δὲ αὐτοῦ γνῶναι τὸ ἀσφαλές).


And this is a common Lukan motif. Daniel Smith has recently traced what he calls “the rhetoric of interruption” in Luke-Acts, concluding that violations of conversational turn-taking are “interruptions of the pious by the impious.”99 Repeatedly in Acts, outsiders – opponents to the Way – exemplify the opposite of the well-ordered verbal decorum expected in Roman public assemblies and depicted in the Jerusalem Council. This is why the Ephesian town clerk in 19:40 can calm the crowd by stating that a “disorderly commotion” (συστροφή) could endanger the city’s status in the Empire.


The unified concord at the end of the Council is also rhetorically significant; it is not as though “quiet listening” always leads to a peaceful solution in Acts. In Acts 22, for instance, a crowd of outsiders begins by listening – “when they had become silent” (πολλῆς σιγῆς γενομένης, 21:40) – but their decorum degenerates into violent cacophony. At first, Paul tells the crowd to “listen” (ἀκούσατέ) and they become “even quieter” (μᾶλλον … ἡσυχίαν, 22:2). But they reject the content of what they hear. The narrator states that the crowd “was listening to [Paul] until he said this word” (῎Ηκουον δὲ αὐτοῦ ἄχρι τούτου τοῦ λόγου, 22:22), at which point the pericope ends with them “raising their voices” (ἐπῆραν τὴν φωνὴν αὐτῶν, 22:22), “shouting” (κραυγαζόντων, 22:23), and trying to kill him. These depictions establish standards by which the implied reader can judge Luke’s characters. Indeed, the narrative rhetoric suggests that silent listening is not enough; listeners must also accept the apostolic testimony that they hear.


Acts 15 depicts the early Christians embodying Roman standards of collective comportment, including verbal self-restraint and silent, respectful listening. Attention to narrative progression reveals that, because this scene appears prior to the later scenes of vocal chaos, it effectively establishes an ideal to which readers can compare the rowdy audiences of outsiders.100 Furthermore, since these outsiders are cast in a negative light, readers are prompted to distance themselves ethically from this “outsider” behavior. Rhetorically, then, Luke’s storytelling reflects and reinforces certain sociocultural ideologies, putting assumptions about proper uses of speech and silence to work to influence implied readers and construct Christian insider-outsider boundaries.  


Thus far, I have been discussing the rhetorical effects of Acts 15 on Luke’s “implied readers.” One might legitimately wonder how Luke’s actual audience would have responded to these insider-outsider narrative constructions. Would the Roman views on silence described above have been part of Luke’s readers’ extratextual repertoires? The question of the historical community behind Acts is by no means settled, and I cannot treat such vexed discussions here.101 Still, few dispute that the earliest audience for the book of Acts was thoroughly immersed in the Hellenistic milieu of the second-century Mediterranean world.102 Most also would affirm that Luke’s most plausible intended readership was “familiar with the cultural scripts and rhetorical conventions of the larger Greco-Roman world, scripts and conventions that were extant in specific documents that they may or may not have known.”103 In other words, it is reasonable to assume that Luke’s authorial audience was familiar with cultural scripts involving proper uses of speech and silence, even if they were not aware of the textual references mentioned above. Of course, the extent to which they would have embraced such values would depend upon their posture toward the Roman Empire – another famous quagmire in Lukan studies.104

There is much more to say, but in the interest of space, allow the above reading to serve as a brief example of my main point: When we perpetuate a false dichotomy between “rhetorical criticism” and “narrative criticism,” we can miss important dimensions of the New Testament narratives’ rhetorical power.


Conclusion


It behooves both rhetorical critics and narrative critics to disregard disciplinary boundaries between “narrative” and “rhetoric” and to tramp around in each other’s territories for a bit. Perhaps when we do, the dizzying will stop and we will see clearly what we should have seen all along. Our continued separation is not serving us well.


Though the path through the theoretical thickets is by no means obvious, I believe that those who spend the time and energy to navigate this complex landscape will find the view richly rewarding. When we recognize that the ­existing gulf between “rhetoric” and “narrative” is both arbitrary and unnecessary, we can expand, deepen, and further nuance our analyses of New Testament narrative as a powerful rhetorical mode in its own right.


1 Vernon K. Robbins, “Rhetography: A New Way of Seeing the Familiar Text,” in C. Clifton Black and Duane F. Watson (eds.), Words Well Spoken: George Kennedy’s Rhetoric of the New Testament (Waco: Baylor University Press, 2008). Hence, as George Parsenios wrote of Gospel criticism in 2010, “one searches in vain for the level of interest in rhetorical criticism that characterizes Pauline studies” (Rhetoric and Drama in the Johannine Lawsuit Motif [Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2010], p. 5).


2 Peter Lampe, “Rhetorical Analysis of Pauline Texts–Quo Vadit?: Methodological Reflections,” in J. Paul Sampley and Paul Lampe (eds.), Paul and Rhetoric (New York: Continuum, 2010), p. 8, 16. 


3 Another practical reason for the separation is that the sheer volume of literature related to each approach can easily (and understandably) deter newcomers.


4 Institutionally, narrative analysis remains outside the purview of “rhetoric” as well. For example, the Society of Biblical Literature has separate program units for “Ancient Fiction and Early Jewish and Christian Narrative,” “Rhetoric and the New Testament,” and “Rhetoric of Religious Antiquity.” 


5 This, of course, oversimplifies the matter; the term “rhetoric” itself is contested. When, for example, should we refer to “rhetoric,” and when to “rhetorics”? Is rhetoric a science, an art, or “the science of an art”? Scholarship on rhetoric can have a temporal/personal qualifier (e.g., “medieval rhetoric” or “Burkean rhetoric”), or “rhetoric” can refer to theoretical discourse itself (e.g., “feminist rhetoric”). 


6 Narratologists define “narrative” differently; most agree that plot, point of view/focalization, setting, and characterization are indispensable. Still, like “rhetoric,” the term “narrative” is contested. It can be an adjective (“of/relating to narration”), a sequential account (“the narrative of Augustine”), or a theoretical framework for intellectual discourse (“the narrative of scientific study”). Further, when should we discuss “narratology” vs. “narratologies”? (Ansgar Nünning, “Narratology or Narratologies? Taking Stock of Recent Developments, Critique and Modest Proposals for Future Usages of the Term,” in Tom Kindt and Hans-Harald Müller [eds.], What is Narratology? Questions and Answers Regarding the Status of a Theory [Berlin: de Gruyter, 2003], pp. 239–76). 


7 Among many, see Hans Dieter Betz, “Literary Composition and Function of Paul’s Letter to the Galatians,” NTS 21 (1975), pp. 353–79; idem, Galatians: A Commentary on Paul’s Letter to the Churches in Galatia (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1979); Stanley Stowers, The Diatribe and Paul’s Letter to the Romans (Chico: Scholars, 1981); Margaret Mitchell, Paul and the Rhetoric of Reconciliation: An Exegetical Investigation of the Language and Composition of 1 Corinthians (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1991); Stowers, A Rereading of Romans: Justice, Jews and Gentiles (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994); R.D. Anderson, Jr., Ancient Rhetorical Theory and Paul (Louvain: Kok Pharos, 1996); Thomas H. Olbricht and Jerry L. Sumney (eds.), Paul and Pathos (Atlanta: SBL, 2001); Duane Watson, The Rhetoric of the New Testament: A Bibliographic Survey (Blandford: Deo, 2006).


8 Key examples include: David Rhoads and Donald Michie, Mark As Story: An Introduction to the Narrative of a Gospel (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1982); Jack Dean Kingsbury, Matthew As Story (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1986); R. Alan Culpepper, Anatomy of the Fourth Gospel: A Study in Literary Design (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1983); Robert Tannehill, The Narrative Unity of Luke-Acts: A Literary Interpretation (2 vols.; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1986, 1990); John Darr, On Character Building: The Reader and the Rhetoric of Characterization in Luke-Acts (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1992).


9 Some intrepid pioneers have been working to integrate narratology and rhetoric in New Testament studies over the past two decades. On the Gospels and Acts, see, for example, E.S. Malbon and E.V. McKnight (eds.), The New Literary Criticism and the New Testament (Valley Forge: Trinity, 1994); Harold W. Attridge, “Argumentation in John 5,” in Anders Ericksson, Thomas H. Olbricht, Walter Ubelacker (eds.), Rhetorical Argumentation in Biblical Texts (Harrisburg: Trinity, 2002), pp. 188–99; C. Clifton Black, “Kennedy and the Gospels: An Ambiguous Legacy, A Promising Bequest,” in Black and Watson (eds.), Words Well Spoken, pp. 63–80; Parsenios, Rhetoric and Drama in the Johannine Lawsuit Motif; Black’s 2001 rhetorical analysis was recently reissued: The Rhetoric of the Gospel: Theological Artistry in the Gospels and Acts (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2nd edn, 2013). Rhetorical treatments of Revelation have been more forthcoming: David DeSilva, Seeing Things John’s Way: The Rhetoric of the Book of Revelation (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2009); Stan A. Lindsay, Revelation: The Human Drama (Danvers: Rosemont Publishing, 2001); James L. Resseguie, Revelation Unsealed: A Narrative-Critical Approach to John’s Apocalypse (Boston: Brill, 1998); Stephen D. O’Leary, Arguing the Apocalypse: A Theory of Millennial Rhetoric (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994); Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, Revelation: Vision of a Just World (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1991).


10 At the 2013 SBL Annual Meeting, the “Rhetoric of Religious Antiquity” group hosted a session titled “Narrational Texture, Narrative Studies, and Rhetoric for the Exploration of Biblical and Related Texts.” Vernon Robbins has invited rhetoricians like Michael Kearns and Steven Mailloux to participate in SBL panels as well. 


11 See Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, “Challenging the Rhetorical Half-Turn: Feminist and Rhetorical Biblical Criticism,” in Stanley E. Porter and Thomas H. Olbricht (eds.), Rhetoric, Scripture, and Theology: Essays from the 1994 Pretoria Conference (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic, 1996), pp. 28–53; and Vernon Robbins’ rejoinder, “The Rhetorical Full-Turn in Biblical Interpretation: Reconfiguring Rhetorical-Political Analysis,” in Stanley Porter (ed.), Rhetorical Criticism and the Bible (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic, 2002), pp. 48–60. 


12 I borrow here the Greek poet Stesichorus’ line: οὐκ ἔστ᾿ ἔτυμος λόγος οὗτος (Plato, Phdr. 243a2–243b3).


13 A terminological note: Some distinguish between “narratology” as practiced outside of biblical studies and “narrative criticism” as a distinct methodology within New Testament studies (Scott Elliott, Reconfiguring Mark’s Jesus: Narrative Criticism after Poststructuralism [Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix, 2011], p. 4). However, I use both terms synonymously because, like “narratology,” New Testament “narrative criticism” treats “narrative as a general category of texts which can be classified according to poetics, the set of identifiable conventions that make a given text recognizable as a narrated story. Narrative poetics outlines the competence required of readers and tellers of narrative” (Steven Cohan and Linda M. Shires, Telling Stories: A Theoretical Analysis of Narrative Fiction [New York: Routledge, 1988], p. 53). See also Petri Merenlahti, “The Future of Narrative Criticism: A Paradigm Shift,” Poetics for the Gospels? Rethinking Narrative Criticism: Study of the New Testament and Its World (London: T & T Clark, 2002), pp. 115–30. 


14 Some discount genre as too reductionistic, since traditional genre taxonomies ignore the influence of location upon a text’s production. However, recent genre theory is more nuanced. Genre theorists now recognize that all texts are embedded within particular socio-historical situations, and that certain features are viewed as more salient in different temporal, geographical, and social contexts.


15 Aristotle defined rhetoric as “the faculty of discovering the possible means of persuasion in reference to any subject whatsoever” (Rh. 1.2.1). Quintilian broadened the definition to “the art of speaking well” (ars bene dicendi [Inst. 2.17.37]). In addition to theoretical treatises, we have handbooks of preliminary exercises used in rhetorical education, like the progymnasmata. Secondary literature on these works is extensive.


16 For a brief summary of these rhetorical canons as used in New Testament studies, see Burton Mack, Rhetoric and the New Testament (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1990), pp. 25–48.


17 Ancient generic identifications are slippery. The Greek terms for “story/narrative” (ἱστορία, λόγος, διήγησις, μῦθος) were often used interchangeably (Lucian, Syr. D. 12), though certain writers made precise distinctions (e.g., Plato distinguishes between μίμησις and διήγησις, though he also recognizes “mixed” pieces [Resp. 392d2–394c5]). Diogenes Laertius disapproves of distinguishing between “dramatic” dialogues and “narrative” (3.50). Relatedly, Gérard Genette labels Plato’s Theaetetus 143c a pseudo-diegetic narrative (Narrative Discourse: An Essay in Method [Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1972], pp. 236–37). Broadly, see Mary Depew and Dirk Obbink (eds.), Matrices of Genre: Authors, Canons, and Society (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2000).


18 Although classical rhetoric appeared before Aristotle, the influence of his Rhetoric on the ancient rhetorical scene can hardly be overstated. Surveys include George Kennedy, A New History of Classical Rhetoric (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994); Stanley Porter (ed.), Handbook of Classical Rhetoric in the Hellenistic Period (Leiden: Brill, 2001); R. Cribiore, Gymnastics of the Mind: Greek Education in Hellenistic and Roman Egypt (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001).


19 Most commentators recognize that the English translation “poetry” is too restrictive. Aristotle analyzes elements of epic and tragedy other than their metric form; conversely, he ignores other literature written in verse. The German Dichtung may be better, as it includes both prose and verse.


20 Though the Greek term διήγησις (“narrative”) only appears five times in the Poetics, the treatise as a whole concerns Aristotle’s building blocks of narrative (spectacle, character, fable [plot], diction, melody, and thought [Poet. 6.1; 18.1455b23–260]). 


21 A closely related conventional contrast remains commonplace in U.S. English departments: the distinction between “literature” (including narrative theory) and “linguistics” or “language” (often including rhetorical studies). “Literature” tends to focus on particular literary artifacts, whereas “linguistics” concerns an abstract system of signifiers (Saussure’s langue, as opposed to parole). The institutional divide between “literature” and “language” (and concomitant valorizing of poetics over classical rhetoric) can be traced largely to nineteenth-century social forces: The Romantics prized individual creativity and tended to trivialize descriptive disciplines like rhetorical criticism. Institutions of higher learning continue to organize curricula and faculty along these dividing lines. For a nuanced discussion, see Steven Mailloux, Disciplinary Identities: Rhetorical Paths of English, Speech, and Composition (New York: Modern Language Association, 2006). 


22 An important variation within the so-called “Heritage School” recognizes the situational adaptability of ancient rhetorical principles. See, for example, Margaret M. Mitchell, Paul, the Corinthians and the Birth of Christian Hermeneutics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), esp. pp. 10–17.


23 Kathleen Welch, The Contemporary Reception of Classical Rhetoric: Appropriations of An­­­cient Discourse (Hillsdale: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1990), p. 3. Alternatively, The SAGE Handbook of Rhetorical Studies identifies three “rhetorics” in New Testament studies: the “antiquarian (i.e., Aristotelian) style that applies the classical rhetorical models of Greco-Roman rhetoric to the New Testament”; the “interactionist style that incorporates sociopolitical motives (in the Burkean sense)”; and the “ideological style that completes the [rhetorical] turn by submitting the analysis itself to a hermeneutic of suspicion”(Andrea Lunsford, Kirt Wilson, and Rosa Eberly [eds.], The SAGE Handbook of Rhetorical Studies [Thousand Oaks: SAGE, 2009], pp. 130–31.


24 Dennis L. Stamps, “Rhetorical and Narratological Criticism,” in Stanley E. Porter (ed.), Handbook to Exegesis of the New Testament (Leiden: Brill, 1997), p. 223.


25 Influential works from across the spectrum include George Kennedy, New Testament Interpretation through Rhetorical Criticism (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1984); Wilhem Wuellner, “Where Is Rhetorical Criticism Taking Us?” CBQ 49 (1987), pp. 448–63; Elizabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, Rhetoric and Ethic: The Politics of Biblical Studies (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2000); James D. Hester Amador and David Hester (eds.), Rhetorics in the New Millennium: Promise and Fulfillment (London: Bloomsbury, 2010).


26 J.D. Hester Amador calls classical New Testament rhetorical criticism a “rhetoric restrained” because it is “overly focused on form and style” (Academic Constraints in Rhetorical Criticism of the New Testament: An Introduction to a Rhetoric of Power [Sheffield: Sheffield Academic, 1999], p. 1). (The phrase “rhetoric restrained” is Gérard Genette’s; see “Rhetoric Restrained,” Figures of Literary Discourse [trans. Alan Sheridan; Oxford: Blackwell, 1982], pp. 103–126). Though Hester rightly challenges methods that ignore the power differentials inherent in every interpretation, he also perpetuates a false dichotomy between “form and style” and “power and rhetoricity.” 


27 Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza distinguishes between “poetic” and “rhetoric,” concluding, “The evaluative criterion for rhetoric is not aesthetics, but praxis” (“Rhetorical Situation and Historical Reconstruction in 1 Corinthians,” NTS 33 [1987], pp. 386–403 (387). 


28 For instance, this article is a discussion of approaches to the New Testament; if it were a recipe for crème brûlée, my reader’s interpretive latitude would be more limited. 


29 John Frow, Genre (The New Critical Idiom) (New York: Routledge, 2006), p. 14.


30 Quintilian considered ancient historiography to be “close to poetry (poetis) … which is told to narrate, not to win a case” (Inst. 10.1.31).


31 See Abraham Malherbe, Moral Exhortation: A Greco-Roman Sourcebook (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1986); William Kurz, “Narrative Models for Imitation in Luke-Acts,” in D. Balch, E. Ferguson, Wayne Meeks (eds.), Greeks, Romans and Christians: Essays in Honor of Abraham J. Malherbe (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1990), pp. 171–89. 


32 For Livy, historiography includes “narrative.” On ancient rhetoric and historiography, see Clare K. Rothschild, Luke-Acts and the Rhetoric of History: An Investigation of Early Christian Historiography (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2004). 


33 In this sense, Aristotle’s definition of rhetoric (“discovering the possible means of persuasion” [Rh. 1.2.1]) aptly describes the storyteller’s task. 


34 This line has long been the subject of scholarly debate.


35 See, for example, Poet. 1.452a; Rh. 1.400b.


36 Douglas Hesse, “Aristotle’s Poetics and Rhetoric: Narrative as Rhetoric’s Fourth Mode,” in Richard Andrews (ed.), Rebirth of Rhetoric: Essays in Language, Culture, and Education (London: Routledge, 1992), pp. 19–20; emphasis added.


37 In the mid-twentieth century, the neo-Aristotelian literary critics in the “Chicago School” connected poetics with rhetoric. See, for example, R.S. Crane, “The Concept of Plot and the Plot of Tom Jones,” in R.S. Crane (ed.), Critics and Criticism: Ancient and Modern (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1953), pp. 616–47; Wayne Booth, The Rhetoric of Fiction (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2nd edn, 1983), p. xiii. 


38 One critique I cannot address here at length concerns the difference between aural/ communal and literary/individual appropriations of narrative. Noting that ancient audiences typically heard biblical texts in community rather than reading them alone, Stephen Moore asserts that “to call the evangelist’s intended listening audience ‘the reader’ and then produce minute analyses of a reading … would seem the ultimate waste of time” (Literary Criticism and the Gospels [New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989], p. 87). However, speech-act analyses apply to public, socially enacted processes of communication as well. As Sandy Petrey writes (contra Searle), “[L]iterature, like any other linguistic performance, is a collective interaction as well as a verbal object … literature is illuminated rather than impoverished when its interpreters consider it in relation to its users” (Speech Acts and Literary Theory [New York: Routledge, 1990], p. 70). See also Michael Kearns, Rhetorical Narratology (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1999), pp. 26–28. Furthermore, readers and hearers share common strategies for meaning-making: Many assume that events in a story are causally connected and that the writer has written for a discernible reason, and draw upon extratextual knowledge and conventions to make sense of what they read or hear. It is not sufficient simply to point out that aural and visual receptions of a text are different; one must determine how the specific differences are relevant to the analysis in question. I refer to the Lukan “reader” throughout this article, but my observations apply to “hearers” as well. 


39 Martinus de Boer, “Narrative Criticism, Historical Criticism, and the Gospel of John,” JSNT 47 (1992), pp. 35–48 (37). 


40 Moore describes New Testament narrative criticism as “a singularly painless extension of redaction criticism. What yokes [them] is a shared preoccupation … with uncovering the evangelist’s original intentions” (“A Modest Manifesto for New Testament Literary Criticism: How to Interface with a Literary Studies Field That Is Post-Literary, Post-Theoretical, and Post-Methodological,” BibInt 15 [2007], pp. 1–25 [5]). Similarly, Elliott calls today’s New Testament narrative criticism a “new quest for history” (Reconfiguring Mark’s Jesus,p. 24).


41 Although narrative characterization remains contested, scholars continue to use E.M. Forster’s traditional dichotomy between “flat” and “round” characters. Typically, the designations “flat” and “static” are used synonymously, as are the terms “round” and “dynamic.” See Forster, Aspects of the Novel (London: Edward Arnold, 1927), pp. 93–95. With respect to ancient characterization, Scholes and Kellogg’s claim is typical: “Characters in primitive stories are invariably ‘flat,’ ‘static,’ and quite opaque” (The Nature of Narrative [New York: Oxford University Press, 1966], p. 164); see also Moore, Literary Criticism, p. 15; David Rhoads and Donald Michie, Mark as Story, p. 100. However, this view has been challenged as overly simplistic. See, for example, Christopher Pelling (ed.), Characterization and Individuality in Greek Literature (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990); Fred Burnett, “Characterization and Reader Construction of Characters in the Gospels,” Semeia 63 (1993), pp. 3–28 (15); Petri Merenlahti, “Characters in the Making: Individuality and Ideology in the Gospels,” in David Rhoads and Kari Syreeni (eds.), Characterization in the Gospels: Reconceiving Narrative Criticism (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic, 1999), pp. 49–72. 


42 Elliot, Reconfiguring Mark’s Jesus, p. 2; emphasis original.


43Reconfiguring Mark’s Jesus, p. 31 n. 22.


44 Chatman’s formulation is standard: “Story is the content of the narrative expression, while discourse is the form of that expression” (Story and Discourse: Narrative Structure in Discourse and Film [Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1978], p. 23). Barbara Herrnstein Smith critiques these distinctions in “Narrative Versions, Narrative Theories,” in W.J.T. Mitchell (ed.), On Narrative (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981), pp. 211–14.


45Reconfiguring Mark’s Jesus, p. 22.


46 John Frow, “Character,” in Peter Logan (ed.), The Encyclopedia of the Novel (Malden: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011), p. 170.


47 The most thoroughgoing critique of New Testament narrative criticism remains Stephen Moore’s Literary Criticism; alsosee Scott Elliott, Reconfiguring Mark’s Jesus.


48 After James Muilenburg’s 1968 SBL presidential address (“After Form Criticism What?” JBL 88 [1969], pp. 1–18), biblical scholars took up the (closely related) structuralist mantle; see the Groupe d’Entrevernes’ collaboration in Signes et paraboles: Sémiotique et texte évangélique (Paris: Seuil, 1977). In 1995, the Bible and Culture Collective treated structuralism and narratology together: “Structuralist and Narratological Criticism,” The Postmodern Bible (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995), pp. 70–118. 


49 Kearns, Rhetorical Narratology, p. 6. 


50 Stephen Moore, “Things Not Written in This Book,” in Tom Thatcher and Stephen Moore (eds.), Anatomies of Narrative Criticism: The Past, Present, and Futures of the Fourth Gospel as Literature (Atlanta: SBL, 2008), p. 256.


51 Meier Abrams includes the universe (historical events/ideas) the message reflects and/or creates (The Mirror and the Lamp [New York: Oxford University Press, 1953], pp. 3–29). 


52 In classics, narratology has focused on both epic poetry and prose. See, for example, Irene J.F. de Jong, “Narratology and Oral Poetry: The Case of Homer,” Poetics Today 12 (1991), pp. 405–423. See also the “Studies in Ancient Greek Narrative” (SAGN) series published by Brill (most recently, Irene J.F. de Jong [ed.], Space in Ancient Greek Literature [Leiden: Brill, 2012]).


53 Tzvetan Todorov is widely regarded as having coined the term “narratologie” in Grammaire du Décaméron (The Hague: Mouton, 1969). Many scholars associate New Testament narrative criticism with the earliest form of narratology, concluding that the approach inappropriately imposes modern sensibilities upon ancient texts.


54 Moore characterizes New Testament reader-response criticism as a cerebral pursuit by scholars who (unlike ancient writers) are rarely interested in a text’s moral or affective influences on its readers. Thus, Moore asks, “[I]f it is a wholly cognitive role of reading that has been charted, can it be said … to have adequately connected with this ancient narrator’s intent?” (Literary Criticism, p. 97). However, contemporary psychological, reader-response, and narratological criticisms insist that the reading process is dynamic, dialogical, and capable of influencing readers on multiple levels. Karl Kuhn’s “affective-rhetorical” analysis is one example; see Kuhn, The Heart of Biblical Narrative: Rediscovering Biblical Appeal to the Emotions (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2009), p. 3. On “affective narratology” more broadly, see Patrick Hogan, Affective Narratology: The Emotional Structure of Stories (Lincoln: University of Nebraska, 2011). 


55 Most New Testament narrative critics today recognize that narrative is inherently rhetorical. Luke Timothy Johnson’s summary is representative: “Literary critics … think that historical critics pay too little attention to the rhetoric of the compositions and too much attention to the putative reconstruction of their historical situation” (Contested Issues in Christian Origins and the New Testament [Leiden: Brill, 2013], p. 206). Relatedly, Vernon Robbins’ well-known sociorhetorical approach treats a text’s “narrational texture” (The Tapestry of Early Christian Discourse: Rhetoric, Society and Ideology [London: Routledge, 1996], pp. 53–57).


56 Debates about the Gospel genre are ongoing, but the element of persuasion is particularly foregrounded in labels of “apologetic historiography” or “rhetorical history” (as in, e.g., Gregory Sterling, Historiography and Self-Definition: Josephos, Luke-Acts, and Apologetic Historiography [Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1992], and Kota Yamada, “A Rhetorical History: The Literary Genre of the Acts of the Apostles,” in Porter and Olbricht [eds.], Rhetoric, Scripture and Theology, pp. 230–50).


57 Following Rabinowitz, Kearns rightly distinguishes between “intentionality” (as constructed by the reader from textual elements) and authorial intent (as “individual psychology”). See Rhetorical Narratology, esp. pp. 50–52.


58 The extent to which the Gospel writers knew and employed common Greco-Roman rhetorical techniques is debated. See, for example, Abraham Malherbe, “The Christianization of a Topos (Luke 12:13–34),” NovT 38 (1996), pp. 123–35; Vernon K. Robbins, “The Claims of the Prologues and Greco-Roman Rhetoric: The Prefaces to Luke and Acts in Light of Greco-Roman Rhetorical Strategies,” in David P. Moessner (ed.), Jesus and the Heritage of Israel: Luke’s Narrative Claim Upon Israel’s Legacy (Harrisburg: Trinity, 1999), pp. 63–83. More recently, see John Darr, “Narrative Therapy: Treating Audience Anxiety through Psychagogy in Luke,” PerRS 39 (2012), pp. 335–48, and Black, Rhetoric of the Gospel. 


59 The foundational text is Chaim Perelman and Lucie Olbrechts-Tyteca, The New Rheto­-ric: A Treatise on Argumenation (trans. John Wilkinson and Purcell Weaver; Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1969). In Pauline studies, see the applications of Perel-man’s work in Folker Siegert, Argumentation bei Paulus: Gezeigt an Rom 9–11 (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1985); and Antoinette Clark Wire, The Corinthian Women Prophets: A Reconstruction through Paul’s Rhetoric (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1990). 


60 See Stamps, “Rhetorical and Narratological Criticism,” pp. 219–39. 


61 Black’s Rhetoric of the Gospel provides insightful analyses, though the book is a compilation of articles on discrete passages, not a sustained argument for any particular interpretive method. 


62 James Phelan, Narrative as Rhetoric: Technique, Audiences, Ethics, Ideology (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1996), p. 8.


63 In Rhetorical Narratology, Kearns draws especially from Phelan, Narrative as Rhetoric; Mary Louise Pratt, Towards a Speech Act Theory of Literary Discourse (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1977); Susan S. Lanser, The Narrative Act: Point of View in Prose Fiction (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1981); Booth, Rhetoric of Fiction; and Sandy Petrey, Speech Acts and Literary Theory. The literature relating speech-act theory to biblical inter-pretation is substantial, though these works rarely concern narrative explicitly. Repre-­sentative works include Richard Briggs, “The Uses of Speech-Act Theory in Biblical Interpretation,” Currents in Research: Biblical Studies 9 (2001), pp. 229–76; Briggs, Words in Action (New York: T & T Clark, 2002); Anthony Thiselton, “Christology in Luke, Speech-Act Theory, and the Problem of Dualism in Christology after Kant,” in Joel Green and Max Turner (eds.), Jesus of Nazareth: Lord and Christ. Essays on the Historical Jesus and New Testament Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994), pp. 453–72; W. Houston, “What Did the Prophets Think They Were Doing? Speech Acts and Prophetic Discourse in the Old Testament,” BibInt 1(1993), pp. 167–88; Hugh White (ed.), Speech-Act Theory and Biblical Criticism (Decatur: Scholars, 1988).


64 Kearns, Rhetorical Narratology, p. 2. According to Kearns, “[T]he study of narrative continues to be bifurcated: there are strong, ongoing interests in the text-based features present in narratives … and in the narrative use of language, but these two approaches have not been scrutinized for their common ground” (p. 30). 


65 Unless otherwise noted, all citations in this paragraph are from James Phelan, “Rhetoric/Ethics,” in David Herman (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Narrative (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), pp. 209–213.


66 Kearns (adopting Chatman’s phrase) discusses this as the “structure of narrative transmission” (SNT) (Rhetorical Narratology, p. 43; cf. Chatman, Story and Discourse, p. 22).


67 Phelan defines the “mimetic” as “an audience’s interest in the characters as possible people and in the narrative world as like our own,” the “thematic” as “the cultural, ideological, philosophical, or ethical issues being addressed by the narrative,” and the “synthetic” as “the characters and … the larger narrative as a made object” (“Rhetoric/Ethics,” p. 211; emphasis added).


68 Phelan describes the textual dynamics of narrative progression as the “introduction, complication, and resolution (in whole or in part) of two kinds of unstable situations … instabilities [that] involve relations within, between, or among characters and their situations … and tensions [that] involve relations among authors, narrators, and audiences” (“Rhetoric/Ethics,” p. 212; emphasis original). The readerly dynamics are, then, “the trajectory of our developing responses to the pattern of instability-complication-resolution” (“Rhetoric/Ethics,” p. 212). 


69 Melanie C. Green and Timothy Brock, “The Role of Transportation in the Persuasiveness of Public Narratives,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 79 (2000), pp. 701–721.


70 Kearns distinguishes this kind of reading from “authorial reading” (the latter refers to situating oneself as part of the “authorial audience … for whom the author implicitly wrote” [Rhetorical Narratology, p. 51]). Darr’s distinction between the typical reader and the critic is also helpful: Whereas most readers are not concerned with their own audiences or reading practices, the critic is “constantly mindful of his or her own audience,” concerned with describing, ordering, and interpreting “the reader, the text and what happens between them” (Herod the Fox: Audience Criticism and Lukan Characterization [Sheffield: Sheffield Academic, 1998], p. 21 n. 7, 29).


71 Susanne Kinnebrock and Helena Bilandzic, “How to Make a Story Work: Introducing the Concept of Narrativity into Narrative Persuasion” (paper presented at the 56th Jahrestagung der International Communication Association [ICA], June 19–23, 2006, Dresden).


72 Note that character speech is a literary feature that other genres, like epistolary writings, lack. The narrator’s speech is an important aspect of this narrativity factor, as the narrator is a character the reader constructs from elements in the text. See John A. Darr, “Narrator as Character: Mapping a Reader-Oriented Approach to Narration in Luke-Acts,” Semeia 63 (1993), pp. 43–60.


73 Mieke Bal, Narratology: Introduction to the Theory of Narrative (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1997), p. 115.


74 Darr, Character Building, p. 147. See also my contribution on Lukan characterization in the forthcoming Festschrift for François Bovon, to be published by Mohr Siebeck.


75 Plato, Phdr. 271C–271D.


76 See Kearns, Rhetorical Narratology, pp. 50–52. 


77 A repeated theme in this literature is that characters’ public speeches establish and interpret theological themes for readers. Philip Satterthwaite articulates a common view: “[I]t is in the speeches that the important theological themes of Acts are stated at greatest length” (“Acts Against the Background of Classical Rhetoric,” in Bruce W. Winter and Andrew D. Clarke [eds.], The Book of Acts in its Ancient Literary Setting [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1993], p. 356). Major works in the ocean of secondary literature on the speeches include H.J. Cadbury, “The Speeches in Acts,” in F.J. Foakes Jackson and K. Lake (eds.), The Beginnings of Christianity: The Acts of the Apostles (London: Macmillan, 1920–1933), vol. 5, pp. 402–426; F.F. Bruce, The Speeches in the Acts of the Apostles (London: Tyndale, 1944); Martin Dibelius, “The Speeches in Acts and Ancient Historiography,” in H. Greeven (ed.), Studies in the Acts of the Apostles (London: SCM Press, 1956), pp. 138–85; Ulrich Wilckens, Die Missionsreden der Apostelgeschichte: Form- und traditionsgeschichtliche Untersuchungen (Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag, 1961); Eduard Schweizer, “Concerning the Speeches in Acts,” in Leander Keck and J. Louis Martyn (eds.), Studies in Luke-Acts (Nashville: Abingdon, 1966), pp. 208–216; Gerhard Schneider, “Die Reden der Apostelgeschichte,” Die Apostelgeschichte (Freiburg: Herder, 1980–1982), vol. 1, pp. 95–103; William Kurz, “Hellenistic Rhetoric in the Christological Proof of Luke-Acts,” CBQ 42 (1980), pp. 171–95; Kennedy, New Testament Interpretation through Rhetorical Criticism, pp. 114–40; Jerome H. Neyrey, “The Forensic Defense Speech and Paul’s Trial Speeches in Acts 22–26: Form and Function,” in Charles Talbert (ed.), Luke-Acts: New Perspectives from the Society of Biblical Literature Seminar (New York: Crossroad, 1984), pp. 210–24; Marion Soards, The Speeches in Acts: Their Content, Context, and Concerns (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1994); Michael Enyinwa Okoronkwo, The Jerusalem Compromise as a Conflict-Resolution Model: A Rhetoric-Communicative Analysis of Acts 15 in the Light of Modern Linguistics (Bonn: Borengässer, 2001). 


78 Another example is the literature on chreiai in the Gospels. See, for example, J.R. Butts, “The Chreia in the Synoptic Gospels,” BTB 16 (1986), pp. 132–38; R.F. Hock and Edward N. O’Neill (eds.), The Chreia in Ancient Rhetoric, Vol. 1: The Progymnasmata (Atlanta: Scholars, 1986); Burton L. Mack and Vernon K. Robbins, Patterns of Persuasion in the Gospels (Sonoma: Polebridge, 1989); Samuel Byrskog, “The Early Church as a Narrative Fellowship: An Exploratory Study of the Performance of the Chreia,” Tidsskrift for Teologi og Kirke 78 (2002), pp. 207–226.


79 Aristotle, Rh. 1.3.4–6, and his discussion of structure in 3.13–19; Kennedy, New Testament Interpretation through Rhetorical Criticism,pp. 125–26; Soards, The Speeches in Acts, pp. 90–91; Bruce, The Speeches in the Acts, p. 19; Ben Witherington, The Acts of the Apostles: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998), p. 453. 


80 Witherington, The Acts of the Apostles, p. 450; Margaret Mitchell, Paul and the Rhetoric of Reconciliation, pp. 60–64 and the citations therein.


81 Important recent exceptions include Mikeal Parsons’ Paideia Commentary, Acts (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2008) and Todd Penner’s “Civilizing Discourse: Acts, Declamation, and the Rhetoric of the Polis,” in Todd Penner and Caroline Vander Stichele (eds.), Contextualizing Acts: Lukan Narrative and Greco-Roman Discourse (Atlanta: SBL, 2003), pp. 65–104.


82 Phelan, “Rhetoric/Ethics,” pp. 207–208.


83 Alex T. M. Cheung, “A Narrative Analysis of Acts 14:27–15:35: Literary Shaping in Luke’s Account of the Jerusalem Council,” WTJ 55 (1993), pp. 137–54.


84 Cheung, “A Narrative Analysis,” pp. 143–44. 


85 Cheung, “A Narrative Analysis,” p. 142.


86 Cheung, “A Narrative Analysis,” p. 141.


87 See, for example, William Kurz, Reading Luke-Acts: Dynamics of Biblical Narrative (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1993), pp. 93–94. Of course, discussion of these themes is not unique to narrative critics; even the earliest Christian interpreters read the account as an ecclesiological model for theological decision-making. John Chrysostom referred to this passage as evidence that ecumenical councils should be orderly, with all participants submitting to the bishop (Hom. Acts 33). A recent example of the “conflict resolution” approach is J. Lyle Story, “Luke’s Instructive Dynamics for Resolving Conflicts: The Jerusalem Council,” Journal of Biblical and Pneumatological Research 3 (2011), pp. 99–118. Contemporary debates also concern the relative “Jewishness” of the apostolic decree. See, for example, Joseph Tyson, Luke, Judaism, and the Scholars: Critical Approaches to Luke-Acts (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1999), esp. pp. 117–19.


88 In this article, I honor tradition and employ the name “Luke” for the narrator who is telling the story, without implying anything about the actual author of the book of Acts. 


89 This is true of Cheung’s analysis overall, although he does suggest that Luke “conciliates his Jewish Christian readers” (“A Narrative Analysis,” p. 154), and “[i]n connection with Luke’s respect for the feelings of the Jewish Christians, the decree is put forward more in gentle persuasion than in authoritative demand” (“A Narrative Analysis,” p. 152). 


90 Phelan, “Rhetoric/Ethics,” p. 212.


91 Cheryl Glenn and Krista Ratcliffe point out that “Westerners have long forgotten (if we ever knew in the first place) the ancient Egyptian and Pythagorean beliefs in the value of silence and listening” (“Introduction: Why Silence and Listening Are Important Rhetorical Arts,” in Cheryl Glenn and Krista Ratcliffe (eds.), Silence and Listening as Rhetorical Arts [Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2011], p. 1).


92 Take Barry Brummett’s entry for the Encyclopedia of Rhetoric and Composition titled “Rhetoric of Silence”: Brummett defines rhetorical silence as “passivity and relinquishment of initiative in politics,” unlike “talk,” which he defines as a “form of action in politics” (“Rhetoric of Silence,” in Theresa Enos [ed.], Encyclopedia of Rhetoric and Composition: Communication from Ancient Times to the Information Age [New York: Routledge, 1996], p. 628; emphasis original). However, these are distinctly American conceptions of “talk” and “silence” that do not apply to all cultures, especially ancient ones. For example, the silence of the Athenian δῆμος did not signal passivity but rather their active power over the elite speakers who had to win their approval. (See, e.g., John Zumbrunnen, Silence and Democracy: Athenian Politics in Thucydides’ History [University Park: Penn State University Press, 2008], p. 10). 


93 On this, see Kathy Maxwell, Hearing Between the Lines: The Audience as Fellow-Worker in Luke-Acts and its Literary Milieu (New York: T & T Clark, 2010). 


94 See Booth, Rhetoric of Fiction, pp. 271–310.


95 Robert Alter writes that a “hiatus in explanation … opens the gates to multiple interpretations” (The Art of Biblical Narrative [New York: Basic Books, 1981], p. 154).


96 On this, see Michal Beth Dinkler, Silent Statements: Narrative Representations of Speech and Silence in the Gospel of Luke (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2013), pp. 67–82 and 193–201.


97 My focus on Roman and Greek views is representative, and not meant to imply that (as prior generations would have it) Luke was solely a Gentile; most scholars today recognize varying degrees of “Jewishness” in Luke-Acts (cf. J.C. O’Neill, The Theology of Acts in Its Historical Setting [London: S.P.C.K., 1961], esp. pp. 146–65; Gerhard Lohfink, Die Sammlung Israels: Eine Utersuchung zur lukanischen Ekklesiologie [Munich: Kosel, 1975]; Joseph Tyson, Luke-Acts and the Jewish People: Eight Critical Perspectives [Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1988]; Sterling, Historiography and Self-Definition; François Bovon, Luke 1: A Commentary on the Gospel of Luke (1:1–9:50) [Minneapolis: Fortress, 2002], p. 8). Had I more space, I would include discussion of Jewish writers who also extolled quietness and orderly turn-taking in assemblies (e.g., the Qumran sect [1QS 6:10–13; 7:9–10, 14–15]; Philo, Vit. Cont. 5–11.40–89, esp. 10.75, 81; Josephus, BJ 2.132–33). 


98 19:28, 32; idiom in 34.


99 Daniel Smith, The Rhetoric of Interruption: Speech-Making, Turn-Taking, and Rule-Breaking in Luke-Acts and Ancient Greek Narrative (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2012), p. 243.


100 On the importance of sequence for readerly dynamics, see Menakhem Perry, “Literary Dynamics: How the Order of a Text Creates its Meanings [With an Analysis of Faulkner’s ‘A Rose for Emily’],” Poetics Today 1 (1979), pp. 35–64, 311–61.


101 I affirm, with Darr, that our reconstructions of ancient extratextual repertoires ought to be provisional and broadly conceived: “Because we lack definitive knowledge of the author, intended audience (narrowly defined) and precise date of writing for Luke-Acts, we are obliged to set rather broad perimeters for its original cultural context” (Herod the Fox,p. 94). 


102 More specifically, Luke’s audience was made up of both Gentiles and former Jews/God-fearers who knew the Septuagint, but not necessarily other sources like Q or the Gospel of Mark. In this, I draw upon the invaluable work of many scholars who consciously situate Acts within its ancient context. See, for example, Charles Talbert, Reading Luke-Acts in Its Mediterranean Milieu (Leiden: Brill, 2004); Penner and Vander Stichele (eds.), Contextualizing Acts; Bruce W. Winter and Andrew D. Clarke (eds.), The Book of Acts in Its Ancient Literary Setting (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1993); Loveday Alexander, The Preface to Luke’s Gospel: Literary Convention and Social Context in Luke 1.1–4 and Acts 1.1 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993); Bruce J. Malina and Jerome H. Neyrey, “Honor and Shame in Luke-Acts: Pivotal Values of the Mediterranean World,” in Jerome H. Neyrey (ed.), The Social World of Luke-Acts: Models of Interpretation (Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 1991), pp. 25–65.


103 Parsons, Acts, p. 21.


104 See the summary in Raymond Pickett, “Luke and Empire: An Introduction,” in David Rhoads, David Esterline, and Jae Won Lee (eds.), Luke-Acts and Empire: Essays in Honor of Robert L. Brawley (Eugene: Pickwick, 2011), pp. 1–18. Rhetorical narratology again offers helpful analytical resources for such questions, because it allows for a variety of audience positions. To return to Phelan’s sixth point described above, narrative progression is generated on the discourse level by tensions (unstable relations between authors, narrators, and different audiences that engender different responses over the course of a reading). Tensions arise based on gaps between authorial and readerly knowledge, and the fact that “different readers bring different hierarchies of value to their reading” (Phelan, “Rhetoric/Ethics,” p. 212). This would be a fruitful area for future exploration.

  • 7

     Among many, see Hans Dieter Betz, “Literary Composition and Function of Paul’s Letter to the Galatians,” NTS 21 (1975), pp. 353–79; idem, Galatians: A Commentary on Paul’s Letter to the Churches in Galatia (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1979); Stanley Stowers, The Diatribe and Paul’s Letter to the Romans (Chico: Scholars, 1981); Margaret Mitchell, Paul and the Rhetoric of Reconciliation: An Exegetical Investigation of the Language and Composition of 1 Corinthians (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1991); Stowers, ARereading of Romans: Justice, Jews and Gentiles (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994); R.D. Anderson, Jr., Ancient Rhetorical Theory and Paul (Louvain: Kok Pharos, 1996); Thomas H. Olbricht and Jerry L. Sumney (eds.), Paul and Pathos (Atlanta: SBL, 2001); Duane Watson, The Rhetoric of the New Testament: A Bibliographic Survey (Blandford: Deo, 2006).

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  • 23

     Kathleen Welch, The Contemporary Reception of Classical Rhetoric: Appropriations of An­­­cient Discourse (Hillsdale: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1990), p. 3. Alternatively, TheSAGE Handbook of Rhetorical Studies identifies three “rhetorics” in New Testament studies: the “antiquarian (i.e., Aristotelian) style that applies the classical rhetorical models of Greco-Roman rhetoric to the New Testament”; the “interactionist style that incorporates sociopolitical motives (in the Burkean sense)”; and the “ideological style that completes the [rhetorical] turn by submitting the analysis itself to a hermeneutic of suspicion”(Andrea Lunsford, Kirt Wilson, and Rosa Eberly [eds.], TheSAGE Handbook of Rhetorical Studies [Thousand Oaks: SAGE, 2009], pp. 130–31.

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  • 29

     John Frow, Genre (The New Critical Idiom) (New York: Routledge, 2006), p. 14.

  • 31

     See Abraham Malherbe, Moral Exhortation: A Greco-Roman Sourcebook (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1986); William Kurz, “Narrative Models for Imitation in Luke-Acts,” in D. Balch, E. Ferguson, Wayne Meeks (eds.), Greeks, Romans and Christians: Essays in Honor of Abraham J. Malherbe (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1990), pp. 171–89.

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  • 35

     See, for example, Poet. 1.452a; Rh. 1.400b.

  • 39

     Martinus de Boer, “Narrative Criticism, Historical Criticism, and the Gospel of John,” JSNT 47 (1992), pp. 35–48 (37).

  • 49

     Kearns, Rhetorical Narratology, p. 6.

  • 60

     See Stamps, “Rhetorical and Narratological Criticism,” pp. 219–39.

  • 62

     James Phelan, Narrative as Rhetoric: Technique, Audiences, Ethics, Ideology (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1996), p. 8.

  • 64

     Kearns, Rhetorical Narratology, p. 2. According to Kearns, “[T]he study of narrative continues to be bifurcated: there are strong, ongoing interests in the text-based features present in narratives … and in the narrative use of language, but these two approaches have not been scrutinized for their common ground” (p. 30).

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  • 73

     Mieke Bal, Narratology: Introduction to the Theory of Narrative (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1997), p. 115.

  • 74

     Darr, Character Building, p. 147. See also my contribution on Lukan characterization in the forthcoming Festschrift for François Bovon, to be published by Mohr Siebeck.

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  • 76

     See Kearns, Rhetorical Narratology, pp. 50–52.

  • 79

     Aristotle, Rh. 1.3.4–6, and his discussion of structure in 3.13–19; Kennedy, New Testament Interpretation through Rhetorical Criticism,pp. 125–26; Soards, The Speeches in Acts, pp. 90–91; Bruce, The Speeches in the Acts, p. 19; Ben Witherington, The Acts of the Apostles: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998), p. 453.

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  • 80

     Witherington, The Acts of the Apostles, p. 450; Margaret Mitchell, Paul and the Rhetoric of Reconciliation, pp. 60–64 and the citations therein.

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  • 82

     Phelan, “Rhetoric/Ethics,” pp. 207–208.

  • 83

     Alex T. M. Cheung, “A Narrative Analysis of Acts 14:27–15:35: Literary Shaping in Luke’s Account of the Jerusalem Council,” WTJ 55 (1993), pp. 137–54.

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  • 84

     Cheung, “A Narrative Analysis,” pp. 143–44.

  • 85

     Cheung, “A Narrative Analysis,” p. 142.

  • 86

     Cheung, “A Narrative Analysis,” p. 141.

  • 87

     See, for example, William Kurz, Reading Luke-Acts: Dynamics of Biblical Narrative (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1993), pp. 93–94. Of course, discussion of these themes is not unique to narrative critics; even the earliest Christian interpreters read the account as an ecclesiological model for theological decision-making. John Chrysostom referred to this passage as evidence that ecumenical councils should be orderly, with all participants submitting to the bishop (Hom. Acts 33). A recent example of the “conflict resolution” approach is J. Lyle Story, “Luke’s Instructive Dynamics for Resolving Conflicts: The Jerusalem Council,” Journal of Biblical and Pneumatological Research 3 (2011), pp. 99–118. Contemporary debates also concern the relative “Jewishness” of the apostolic decree. See, for example, Joseph Tyson, Luke, Judaism, and the Scholars: Critical Approaches to Luke-Acts (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1999), esp. pp. 117–19.

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  • 90

     Phelan, “Rhetoric/Ethics,” p. 212.

  • 93

     On this, see Kathy Maxwell, Hearing Between the Lines: The Audience as Fellow-Worker in Luke-Acts and its Literary Milieu (New York: T & T Clark, 2010).

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  • 94

     See Booth, Rhetoric of Fiction, pp. 271–310.

  • 96

     On this, see Michal Beth Dinkler, Silent Statements: Narrative Representations of Speech and Silence in the Gospel of Luke (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2013), pp. 67–82 and 193–201.

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  • 103

     Parsons, Acts, p. 21.

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