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

Choose another definition:

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Or texture:

sacred texture: Sacred texture is a texture that is intertwined with each of the other four textures (inner, inter, social/cultural, and ideological), and refers to the manner which a text communicates insights into the relationship between the human and the divine. This texture includes aspects concerning deity, holy persons, spirit beings, divine history, human redemption, human commitment, religious community (e.g. ecclesiology), and ethics.

salvation history: an aspect of divine history (a subtexture of sacred texture), it presupposes that divine powers direct historical processes and events toward certain results. From the perspective of salvation history, God's plan for humans works itself out through a complicated but ever-ongoing process that moves slowly toward God's goals.

self-expressive speech: one of the three body zones of sensory-aesthetic texture, it is represented by terms such as: mouth, ears, tongue, lips, throat, teeth, jaws, and the activities of these organs: to speak, hear, say, call, cry, question, sing, recount, tell, instruct, praise, listen to, blame, curse, swear, disobey, turn a deaf ear to. The following nouns and adjectives pertain to this zone as well: speech, voice, call, cry, clamor, song, sound, hearing; eloquent, dumb, talkative, silent, attentive, distracted, and the like. In our culture, this zone would cover the area we refer to as self-revelation through speech, communication with others, the human as listener who dialogues with others in a form of mutual self-unveiling, and so on.

sensory-aesthetic texture: resides prominently in the interaction among the senses (sight, sound, touch, smell, taste), motor activities (walking, reaching, grasping, etc.), and subjective modes (emotion, intuition, imagination, thought, reason, humor, etc.) the text evokes or embodies. This texture is comprised of three body zones: emotion fused thought, self-expressive speech, and purposeful action. Click here for examples.

shame: Click here for examples.

simple narration:

social and cultural location: The social and cultural location of a text and reader is based on the specific social topics and final cultural categories of social and cultural texture. It identifies the dispositions, presuppositions, and values of a text and reader.

social and cultural texture: The social and cultural texture of a text refers to the social and cultural nature of a text as a text. A text is part of society and culture by the way it views the world (specific social topics), by sharing in the general social and cultural attitudes, norms, and modes of interaction which are known by everyone in a society (common social and cultural topics) and by establishing itself vis-�-vis the dominant cultural system (final cultural categories) as either sharing in its attitudes, values, and dispositions at some level (dominant and subcultural rhetoric) or by rejecting these attitudes, values, and dispositions (counterculture, contraculture, and liminal culture rhetoric).

social intertexture: A subtexture of intertexture, social intertexture refers to the use, reference, or representation of various forms of social knowledge. Social knowledge is information gained by every person in a given region through day to day interaction with other people of that region. It includes information about social roles, institutions, codes, and relationships. Click here for examples.

socio-rhetorical interpretation: An approach to literature that focuses on values, convictions, and beliefs both in the texts we read and in the world in which we live. It views texts as performances of language in particular historical and cultural situations. It presupposes that a text is a tapestry of interwoven textures, including inner texture, intertexture, social and cultural texture, ideological texture, and sacred texture. A major goal of socio-rhetorical interpretation is to nurture an environment of interpretation that encourages a genuine interest in people who live in contexts with values, norms, and goals different from our own.

source criticism: a type of analysis that pays attention to the written materials (sources) authors may have used when composing their texts.

specific social topics: an arena of the social and cultural texture of a text, specific social topics are the thoughts, ideas, and subjects that are central to a particular kind of social discourse. These topics distinguish one kind of social discourse from another kind, rather than being common social topics like honor or shame. The specific social topics in socio-rhetorical interpretation of religious texts concern conversionist, revolutionist, introversionist, gnostic-manipulationist, thaumaturgical, reformist, and utopian discourse.

spheres of ideology:

spirit beings: Forming a subtexture of sacred texture, spirit beings are special divine or evil beings who have the nature of a spirit rather than a fully human being. The Gospel of Mark, for instance, refers to angels, holy spirit, demons or unclean spirits, and the devil. The presence of these beings features competition between forces of good and evil. The sacred texture of a text often emerges in the context of conflict between good and evil spiritual forces. The manner in which this battle is resolved sheds yet more light on the relation of human life to the divine in the text.

subculture: Subcultural rhetoric "imitates the attitudes, values, dispositions, and norms of dominant cultural rhetoric, yet it claims to enact them better than members of the dominant culture." It is one of the final culture categories, which are a subtexture of social and cultural texture. One type of this rhetoric is ethnic rhetoric.

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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.