Wednesday, 15 June 2011

David Wilhite: “What Tertullian Learned from Paul”

While Tertullian’s indebtedness to Paul is readily apparent and widely acknowledged by scholars, much of the rhetorical analysis of Tertullian’s work has been portrayed as an alternative to “exegetical…theological grounding” (Sider, Ancient Rhetoric and the Art of Tertullian [OUP 1971], 9, for e.g.)  By looking to the classical rhetorical handbooks, such as those by Aristotle, Cicero and Quintilian, scholars who implement rhetorical analysis have been able to produce fruitful studies which retrieve Tertullian’s argumentative forms.  While rhetorical analysis and exegetical theory have not been said to be mutually exclusive, the two approaches to Tertullian’s work have rarely been formally incorporated into a single study.  This phenomenon is especially unsatisfactory in light of the fact that Paul’s epistles have now been thoroughly researched in light of rhetorical analysis (especially since Prof. Hans Dieter Betz’ seminal commentary on Galatians in the Hermeneia series [1978]), and they have been shown to consist of classical rhetorical categories and strategies.  Given Tertullian’s close reading of “the Apostle,” most explicitly in his interaction with the Marcionites, and given his own training and implementation in rhetorical strategies should we not expect Tertullian to betray some awareness of Paul’s use of classical rhetoric?  This paper intends to explore Tertullian’s awareness of rhetoric in Paul’s letter to the Galatians, and it is believed that a further awareness of the interplay between his use of Paul and his use of rhetoric can shed light on the question about the interplay between his theology and his rhetoric. 

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