Vernon K. Robbins

Sociorhetorical Interpretation

Emory Studies in Early Christianity

Rhetoric of Religious Antiquity

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Recitation in Luke 4:8

Socio-Rhetorical Examples

Definition of recitation.

Another form of recitation occurs when a text is cited with the substitution of different words. Deuteronomy 6.13 reads:

Fear the Lord your God and serve him
and cleave to him and swear by his name.
(Wevers 1977: 122-3)

The chreia in Luke 4.8 reads: Jesus answered him, 'It is written, "Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him"'.

The recitation in the Gospel of Luke changes one of the key words, adds the word 'only' and omits the two final statements. The modification of 'fear' to worship' is a matter of adapting the wording of the verse to the new context, where the narrator uses 'worship' in relation to the devil (Luke 4.7; cf. Matt 4.9-10). Omission of the last two statements again gives the recitation a crisp, proverbial function in the verbal contest between Jesus and the devil.


From: Vernon K. Robbins (1996) The Tapestry of Early Christian Discourse: Rhetoric, Society and Ideology, London: Routledge: 104.

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