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Renovating Rhetoric in Christian Tradition

Edited by Elizabeth Vander Lei, Thomas Amorose, Beth Daniell, Anne Ruggles Gere

Publication Year: 2014

Throughout history, determined individuals have appropriated and reconstructed rhetorical and religious resources to create effective arguments. In the process, they have remade both themselves and their communities. This edited volume offers notable examples of these reconstructions, ranging from the formation of Christianity to questions about the relationship of religious and academic ways of knowing. The initial chapters explore historic challenges to Christian doctrines and gender roles. Contributors examine Mormon women’s campaigns for the recognition of their sect, women’s suffrage, and the statehood of Utah; the Seventh-day Adventist challenge to the mainstream designation of Sunday as the Sabbath; a female minister who confronted the gendered tenets of early Methodism and created her own sacred spaces; women who, across three centuries, fashioned an apostolic voice of humble authority rooted in spiritual conversion; and members of the Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church who redefined notions of women’s intellectual capacity and appropriate fields for work from the Civil War through World War II. Considering contemporary learning environments, other contributors explore resources that can help faculty and students of composition and rhetoric consider more fully the relations of religion and academic work. These contributors call upon the work of theologians, philosophers, and biblical scholars to propose strategies for building trust through communication. The final chapters examine the writings of Apostle Paul and his use of Jewish forms of argumentation and provide an overarching discussion of how the Christian tradition has resisted rhetorical renovation, and in the process, missed opportunities to renovate spiritual belief.

Published by: University of Pittsburgh Press

Series: Pittsburgh Series in Composition, Literacy, and Culture

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-iv


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-viii

This book finds its genesis in the scholarly curiosity of five people who, in 2001, applied for a modest Initiative Grant from the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities: Tom Amorose, Beth Daniell, Anne Gere, David Jolliffe, and Elizabeth Vander Lei. When we were selecting readings to discuss and...

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Elizabeth Vander Lei

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pp. ix-xviii

This book grows out of and contributes to a persistent scholarly curiosity about the relationship of rhetoric and religion, a curiosity that dapples the history of rhetoric from Augustine’s On Christian Doctrine to the work of contemporary scholars, a curiosity that persists in part, I believe, because scholars...

The Rise of Christian Sects

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1: Constructing Devout Feminists: A Mormon Case

Anne Ruggles Gere

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pp. 3-16

The followers who accompanied Brigham Young when he arrived in the Great Salt Lake valley on July 24, 1847, and declared “this is the place,” were the first Mormon pioneers to envision Utah as a location where they could practice their religion with minimal interference. Adherents to this religion, which took...

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2: A Rhetoric of Opposition: The Seventh-Day Adventist Church and the Sabbath Tradition

Lizabeth A. Rand

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pp. 17-28

The fourth commandment, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy,” has been a central principle of the Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) church, a Christian denomination with over sixteen million members worldwide, since its beginning. According to Adventist theologian Raymond F. Cottrell, “the Sabbath...

The Rise of Female Rhetors

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pp. 29-30

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3: Preaching from the Pulpit Steps: Mary Bosanquet Fletcher and Women’s Preaching in Early Methodism

Vicki Tolar Burton

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pp. 31-44

On February 2, 1773, Mary Bosanquet (1739–1815) recorded in her journal: “I went this day to A—. Had a good time in speaking from those words, ‘O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter.’”1 Situated in her journal between an entry on being in bad spirits and another on a road...

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4: “With the Tongue of [Wo]men and Angels”: Apostolic Rhetorical Practices Among Religious Women

Aesha Adams-Roberts, Rosalyn Collings Eves, and Liz Rohan

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pp. 45-58

In 1804 an African Caribbean Methodist woman, Anne Hart Gilbert, wrote a history of Methodism that sought to correct circulating histories of the Antiguan Methodist church (written by white men) by exposing corrupt practices of some white missionaries and inserting black women into this history.1 Yet in...

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5: Rhetorical Strategies in Protestant Women’s Missions: Appropriating and Subverting Gender Ideals

Karen K. Seat

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pp. 59-70

Between the Civil War and World War II, millions of Protestant American women took up the cause of missions, creating their own woman-run missionary societies and sending unmarried women to countries around the world to work as professional missionaries.1 The pages of women’s missionary literature...

The Rise of Academic Concern about American Christian Fundamentalism

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6: “Attentive, Intelligent, Reasonable, and Responsible”: Teaching Composition with Bernard Lonergan

Priscilla Perkins

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pp. 73-88

Teaching honors classes used to drive me crazy, at least during the first weeks of the semester. Before I returned the first graded writing assignment, I had to steel myself for the grade-grubbery that inevitably followed, a student ritual I called the “Attack of the Killer B Pluses.” Many of the students who enroll...

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7: “Ain’t We Got Fun?”: Teaching Writing in a Violent World

Elizabeth Vander Lei

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pp. 89-104

It seemed a simple way to have some fun in the last ten minutes of the first class after spring break. After a short lesson on composing styles, I turned to my students, students in a first-year writing class that I considered one of my best ever, and asked them to create a metaphor for academic writing...

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8. A Question of Truth: Reading the Bible, Rhetoric, and Christian Tradition

Beth Daniell

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pp. 105-116

On the syllabus for my upper-division rhetoric course is the statement that one goal of the class is to explore is the relationship of language and truth. This topic, I find, very much interests undergraduates. In almost every rhetoric class I’ve taught, as we review the various stances between rhetoric and truth, a student...

Rhetoric in Christian Tradition

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9: The Jewish Context of Paul’s Rhetoric

Bruce Herzberg

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pp. 119-134

Paul tells his readers that he was not only Jewish but a Pharisee: “Circumcised on the eighth day, I was born of the race of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrew parents. In the matter of the law, I was a Pharisee” (Philippians 3:5).1 This statement may sound odd to us, given the generally...

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10: Resistance to Rhetoric in Christian Tradition

Thomas Amorose

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pp. 135-150

The title of this final chapter may surprise readers, since the preceding chapters of Renovating Rhetoric show so many successes for rhetoric at work in Christian tradition. But readers may have noticed that most of the successes documented in these chapters came in the face of resistance by some form of...


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pp. 151-180


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pp. 181-198


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pp. 199-202


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pp. 203-214

Back Cover

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p. BC-BC

E-ISBN-13: 9780822979593
E-ISBN-10: 0822979594
Print-ISBN-13: 9780822962946
Print-ISBN-10: 0822962942

Page Count: 200
Publication Year: 2014

Series Title: Pittsburgh Series in Composition, Literacy, and Culture