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Words Well Spoken

George Kennedy's Rhetoric of the New Testament

C. Clifton Black and Duane F. Watson, editors

Publication Year: 2008

It has been more than two decades since the publication of George Kennedy's influential New Testament Interpretation Through Rhetorical Criticism (1984). The essays in Words Well Spoken demonstrate the influence of Kennedy's work on New Testament studies. The essays offer applications of his method to canonical New Testament books and provide more general discussions of rhetorical analysis. Kennedy's thoughtful response articulates his present thinking about the New Testament and demonstrates why this scholar continues to be of such value to New Testament studies.

Published by: Baylor University Press

Title Page


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pp. ix-xii

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pp. xiii-xiv

The editors sincerely thank this volume’s contributors, without whose distinctive, valuable offerings the book could not have achieved the breadth and richness for which we aspired. Deeper than the capacity of speech to capture is our gratitude to all of the following...

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Chapter 1: Introduction

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pp. 1-6

Of interdisciplinary studies one is tempted to grouse as did Mark Twain on a different subject: “Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.”1 If that estimate seems hyperbolic, perhaps Hamlet’s rueful comment (I. IV.) was more apt in speaking of...

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Chapter 2: The Recollection of Rhetoric: A Brief History

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pp. 7-20

Any essay assessing the work of George Kennedy and its bearing on religious rhetoric does well to emulate his ability to traverse disciplines in search of comparable ideas. My own career across disciplines could not have been done successfully, if at all, were it not for his trailblazing. In contemplating Kennedy’s “post-biblical” influence, we turn immediately to the many disciplines in which rhetoric is now influential, having been given an identity...

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Chapter 3: George Kennedy’s Scholarship in the Context of North American Rhetorical Studies

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pp. 21-40

In the last two decades, studies in rhetoric broadly defined have come to the forefront worldwide in numerous academic disciplines. George Alexander Kennedy, Paddison Professor of Classics Emeritus at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has played a crucial role in offering classical and other insights into rhetoric. The key scholars in most efforts to undertake rhetorical assessments have engaged his works. In this chapter I shall set forth Kennedy’s...

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Chapter 4: The Influence of George Kennedy on Rhetoric Criticism of the New Testament

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pp. 41-62

When I arrived at Duke University in 1981 as a doctoral student in religion, the program had just been modified to include a new interdisciplinary portion that required students to create a minor in an ancillary discipline. The year before, a couple of friends of mine at Duke, Jack Levison and Richard Vinson, had established a minor in classical rhetoric with Professor George Kennedy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Several students entering the program with me decided to pursue this minor as well, including...

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Chapter 5: Kennedy and the Gospels: An Ambiguous Legacy, a Promising Bequest

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pp. 63-80

From among the thousands who attend annual meetings of the Society of Biblical Literature and similar academic conclaves, few succeed in that endeavor which motivated the builders of Babel’s Tower: to make a name for themselves. Given the outcome of the project recounted in Genesis, that’s probably a good thing. For good or ill, by far fewer establish themselves with scholarship that must be taken seriously by those standing outside the perimeter of their tightly circumscribed academic fields...

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Chapter 6: Rhetography: A New Way of Seeing the Familiar Text

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pp. 81-106

The process of writing this essay has reminded me that “There is nothing new under the sun.”1 It also has renewed my conviction that all things humans perceive to be new are reconfigurations of that which is old and commonplace. The topic of this essay is rhetography, a term of importance for scholars investigating the “Rhetoric of Religious Antiquity.”2 Rhetography refers to the graphic...

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Chapter 7: George Kennedy’s Influence on Rhetorical Interpretation of the Acts of the Apostles

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pp. 107-124

My introduction to the work of George Kennedy came as what one might term “fortuitous happenstance.” As a new doctoral student in my first seminar on the theology of the New Testament, I sat in rapt attention listening to my professor, recently returned from a sabbatical leave spent studying communication theory, discuss the possibilities of using the canons of rhetoric as a tool for interpreting...

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Chapter 8: George Kennedy’s Contribution to Rhetorical Criticism of the Pauline Letters

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pp. 125-138

I am often asked what’s new in the study of the Pauline Letters. I often respond that there are five breaths of fresh air in the study of Paul. These are the development of rhetorical criticism of the letters of the Pauline corpus, the development of criticism based on social-scientific models, the renewed study of Paul in connection with Judaism, the renewed study of Paul in connection with Greco-Roman philosophy, and the renewed study of Pauline theology. Of these, it seems to me, rhetorical criticism is the most important. The contribution that rhetorical criticism has made to the historical...

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Chapter 9: Kennedy and the Reading of Paul: The Energy of Communication

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pp. 139-162

I categorize Professor George Kennedy as primarily a social and intellectual historian. At least in his earlier writing, it is that perspective that tends to inform his conversation with the New Testament’s rhetorical critics. In the first chapter of New Testament Interpretation through Rhetorical Criticism, he observes that, while scholars had picked up on the need for rhetorical analysis of New Testament texts, they had not developed a widely accepted methodology...

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Chapter 10: Moving an Audience: One Aspect of Pathos in the Book of Revelation

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pp. 163-178

How does one track the varieties of New Testament rhetorical criticism that have flourished since the publication of George A. Kennedy’s New Testament Interpretation through Rhetorical Criticism?1 In a recent dictionary article David E. Aune attempts this venture, helpfully diagnosing two major distinctions within the field...

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Chapter 11: Afterword

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pp. 179-192

The invitation from the editors, Clifton Black and Duane Watson, to contribute an afterword to this volume offers me a welcome opportunity to thank them and the authors of the chapters for their thoughtful contributions to the rhetorical criticism of the New Testament—a minor school of biblical interpretation that I seem inadvertently to have fathered in classrooms in Chapel Hill. Without underestimating the fine scholarship of others, the development...

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Curriculum Vitae: George Alexander Kennedy

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pp. 193-204

PERSONAL Born: Hartford, Connecticut, 26 November 1928, son of George and Ethel Hall Kennedy; married Mary Lee Hunnicutt, 25 March 1955; one child: Claire Alexandra (Mrs. Jerrald) Morton; three grandchildren: Alexander, Amy, and Emily Morton...


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pp. 205-234

List of contributors

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pp. 235

index of primary sources

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pp. 237-242

Subject index

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pp. 243-255

Black-Watson back

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E-ISBN-13: 9781602582309
E-ISBN-10: 1602582300
Print-ISBN-13: 9781602580640
Print-ISBN-10: 1602580642

Page Count: 255
Publication Year: 2008

Edition: 1

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Subject Headings

  • Kennedy, George Alexander, 1928-.
  • Bible. N.T. -- Language, style.
  • Bible. N.T. -- Criticism, interpretation, etc.
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