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:

judicial rhetoric: One of the three major divisions of rhetoric in ancient rhetorical theory (epideictic and deliberative are the others), judicial rhetoric evokes the context of the courtroom by using accusation and acquittal to persuade an audience to make a judgment about events that occurred in the past.

kingdom of God: In the synoptic gospels, the coming or nearness of the kingdom of God (usually called the kingdom of Heaven in Matthew) is central to Jesus' preaching. At its heart is the belief that the present order is about to be replaced, or is in the process of being replaced by God's rule.

liminal culture: One of the final cultural categories (a subtexture of social and cultural texture) a liminal culture exists only minimally and at and for the moment. Liminal cultures appear and disappear as people move from one cultural identity to another, or consist of people or groups that have never been able to establish a clear social and cultural identity in their setting. See also minimal rationality. Click here for examples.

limited good: One of several common cultural and social topics, the idea of the limited good is the result of the perception of the peasant class that all goods in the world are fixed quantities and in short supply. Any gain or loss of a limited good was accomplished at the expense or benefit of another, which therefore fostered suspicion and struggle in peasant communities. This eventually gave way to "wantlessness," the lack of a desire for ever more and more goods. Click here for examples.

literary criticism: Literary criticism is an interpretive strategy that focuses on the particularly literary qualities of a text. It is grounded in the understanding that a text should be read and interpreted using the categories appropriate to its genre. Thus for stories like the gospels, plot, characters, and settings should be the focus of the interpreter. Such topics as the historical background or theology of a text are largely left unconsidered.

literary culture: A literary culture locates truth or meaning in authoritative versions, and considers recitations that deviate from the authoritative versions (such as is common in rhetorical cultures) to be in error.

logical progression: Logical progression, a type of rhetorical or argumentative progression, has the form of a perfectly conducted argument, advancing step by step. In a narrative, as it proceeds, assertions are made that create specific expectations within the reader. Once the reader sees that many of these assertions are fulfilled within a short span of text, he or she expects a logical progression within the text that reliably fulfills all the assertions. Click here for examples.

logical reasoning: an aspect of argumentative texture, logical reasoning is reasoning that presents assertions, supports them with reasons, clarifies them through opposites and contraries, and possibly presents short or elaborate counterarguments. Differs from qualitative reasoning.

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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.