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:

taxonomy: An ordered view of the parts of a system.

thaumaturgical response: A type of social response to the world at large, a person or group which maintains a thaumaturgical response seeks immediate relief from their present circumstances through a special act of the divine. The relief is personal, local, and a one time even, and its occurrence is magical. A thaumaturgical response is a specific social topics of social and cultural texture. Click here for examples.

thematic elaboration: An alternative to narrative amplification, elaboration is not simply an expansion or amplification of a narrative. Rather, a theme or issue emerges in the form of a thesis or chreia near the beginning of a unit, and meanings and meaning effects of this theme or issue unfold through argumentation as the unit progresses. The major argumentative devices for elaborating the theme or issue are rationale, argument from the opposite, analogy, example, embellishment, confirmation, encomium, and authoritative testimony. An elaboration incorporates such a wide range of resources from textual, social, and cultural traditions that ancient rhetoricians considered an elaboration to be a complete argument. Click here for examples.

thesis: A thesis is a general or specific assertion put forward as a proposition for consideration. A thesis regularly invites elaboration or objection. If a thesis is attributed to a specific person, it is a chreia. If it is not attributed to a specific person, it often has the form of a proverb or a maxim.

topos: A location of thought (topic) associated with implicit or explicit image-picture schemas and implicit or explicit argumentative frames of thought, action, emotion, and belief.

utopian response: A type of social response to the world at large, a group which maintains a utopian response to the world at large seeks to reform it along divinely given principles, establishing a new social order which will eliminate evil. A utopian response seeks to replace the entire social order through the efforts of humankind. A utopian response is a specific social topics of social and cultural texture.

wisdom rhetorolect/belief system/form of life: One of six major first century Christian rhetorolect/belief systems. First century Christian wisdom rhetorolect/belief system blends human experiences of the household, one's interpersonal body, and the geophysical world (firstspace) with the cultural space of God’s cosmos (secondspace). In the lived space of blending (thirdspace), God functions as heavenly Father over God's children in the world, whose bodies are to produce goodness and righteousness through the medium of God's wisdom, which is understood as God's light in the world. In this context, wisdom belief emphasizes "fruitfulness" (productivity and reproductivity). The goal of wisdom belief is to create people who produce good, righteous action, thought, will, and speech with the aid of God's wisdom.

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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.