Thursday, September 18, 2008

Forthcoming BWIII Books

Two books from Ben Witherington that are coming out from Wipf & Stock in the future include:

1. The Lazarus Effect (with Ann Witherington).

Archaeologist Art West makes the discovery of a lifetime in Jerusalem finding the tombstone of Lazarus, which indicates that Jesus raised him from the dead. But before he can make public his amazing discovery, the stone is stolen, sold to the British Library, and West is implicated in an antiquities fraud that will lead to a trial. West's Jewish and Muslim friends in Jerusalem rally to support West's innocence and to help find the thief who stole the stone, but then West is shot and in critical condition in a Jerusalem hospital. Can the truth be discovered in time, and West's life be saved? And what was on that Aramaic scroll that was found in Lazarus's coffin? In this fast-paced thriller, Ben Witherington, himself a NT scholar with a degree in English literature, together with his wife, Ann, introduces us to the life of an archaeologist and NT scholar and his trials and tribulations when a big find comes to light. Set in the always volatile city of Jerusalem, the Witheringtons reveal the fascinating hidden dimensions of multi-religious life in that Holy Place, and show how even today Christians, Jews, and Muslims can work together so the truth may come to light, and all may experience "the Lazarus Effect"—new life from the dead.

2. New Testament Rhetoric: An Introductory Guide to the Art of Persuasion in and of the New Testament.

I've written an endorsement for this book: "Ben Witherington has produced a sterling volume on ancient rhetoric and its applicability to New Testament studies. Witherington carefully explains the various forms of the rhetorical craft and how the New Testament authors themselves set out to persuade, exhort, rebuke, and encourage their various audiences through use of ancient rhetorical techniques. Importantly, Witherington carefully describes how an understanding of rhetoric affects biblical interpretation and Christian preaching. Anyone who is interested in the contours of early Christian discourse or would like to be able to preach and teach as persuasively as the biblical authors will find this volume highly informative and immensely helpful. Another gem from the pen of Ben!".

For my own views on NT and Rhetoric (i.e. a light handed use of them) see this journal article here.

Witherington gives 10 reasons why rhetoric matters for NT Interpretation:

1. Failure to recognize a propositio (thesis statement) or peroration leads to misunderstanding of the character and themes of a document.

2. Failure to correctly identify the species of rhetoric in a discourse leads to false conclusions.

3. Failure to recognize "impersonation" as a rhetorical device.

4. Failure to recognize the way that a rhetorical comparison works.

5. Failure to see the difference between ancient and modern persuasion.

6. Failure to recognize enthymemes leads to misunderstanding NT arguments.

7. Overlooking the way personificiations work in a rhetorical discourse.

8. Mistaking amplification for either redundancy or for saying more than one thing.

9. Mistaking asiatic rhetoric for verbal excess.

10. The importance of recognizing micro-rhetoric - recognizing a gradatio.

1 comment:

matthew said...

I look forward to the latter book - I've read a chapter of it and it seems interesting. I've also read & appreciated your own article on the topic. With regard to BW3's ten reasons, though, I wonder if they can be over-applied and result in major misinterpretation: For example, Margaret Mitchell (and, following her, BW3) identifies 1:10 as the thesis statement of 1 Corinthians, which allegedly sets the topic for the whole of the letter. But I don't find this convincing - I think the 'peroratio' (15:58) has to be seriously massaged in order to make it fit this alleged thesis... perhaps in this case, a commitment to rhetorical analysis can confuse rather than enlighten.

But still, I look forward to giving the book a good read - perhaps it will convince me to change my mind, but at the moment I think rhetorical criticism is seriously overplayed.