Vernon K. Robbins

Sociorhetorical Interpretation

Emory Studies in Early Christianity

Rhetoric of Religious Antiquity

Religious Sites in Atlanta

Emory Department of Religion

Emory Graduate Division of Religion



Dictionary of Socio-Rhetorical Terms

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Or texture:

faction: One type within relation to groups, a faction is a type of coalition which is a temporary alliance of distinct parties for a limited purpose (Boissevain 1974: 171) Members of a faction are recruited personally according to structurally diverse principles by or on behalf of a person in conflict with another person or persons, with whom they were formerly united, over honor and/or control over resources. The central focus of the faction is the person who has recruited it, who may also be described as the leader (Boissevain 1974: 192). Rivalry is basic to the existence of a faction because a faction supports a person engaged in competition for honor or resources. The conflict is political. The prizes for which they compete may also include access to the 'truth' (a form of power) and hence be ideological, as in a religious group or church. Factions compete with other coalitions for the same prizes. They are conflicting units formed within a larger encapsulating social entity such as a village, association or even another coalition, which had previously been united. The longer the faction remains united, the more corporate characteristics it acquires (Boissevain 1974: 194-195).

feminist criticism: Often taking the form of ideological criticism, feminist criticism has been especially helpful in highlighting the muted portraits and voices of women in the Bible; this is important because both the Old and New Testament were written in a patriarchal society, and the language about women often reflects those patriarchal roots.

final cultural categories: A subtexture of social and cultural texture, final cultural categories most decisively identify one's cultural location. Cultural location, in contrast to social location, concerns the manner in which people present their propositions, reasons, and arguments both to themselves and to other people. These topics separate people into one of the five final cultural categories: dominant culture, subculture, counterculture, contraculture, and liminal culture.

final unit: an aspect of opening-middle-closing texture, it is the concluding, or last, section in a narrative. Together with the initial (opening) and middle unit, it forms a complete story.

form criticism: analyzes texts to identify different types of material. For instance, interpreters use terms like parable, miracle story, story about Jesus (where something happens to Jesus, like the baptism), and pronouncement story to describe units in the gospels. Form criticism, in its classic manifestion of the early to mid-twentieth century, was concerned not with the final form a gospel text, but the prehistory of the individual units of the gospel and the specific social setting that give rise to them.

fulfillment of prophecy: the method by which the authors of the New Testament drew on the Hebrew scriptures and interpreted them in such a way so as to make the NT writngs a completion of the Hebrew scriptures. Events were interpreted as a fulfillment of the Hebrew prophecies; this "proof from prophecy" was meant to help validate the NT writings.

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Definitions based upon Vernon K. Robbins, Exploring the Texture of Texts, Valley Forge, PA: Trinity Press International, 1996 and Vernon K. Robbins, The Tapestry of Early Christianity: Rhetoric, Society, and Ideology, London and New York: Routledge, 1996.