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Rethinking Paul’s Rhetorical Education: Comparative Rhetoric and 2 Corinthians 10–13
Ryan S. Schellenberg
ECL 10
Publication Date
September 2013


Winner of the Canadian Society of Biblical Studies 2015 F. W. Beare Award


Did Paul have formal training in Greco-Roman rhetoric, or did he learn what he knew of persuasion informally, as social practice? Pauline scholars recognize the importance of this question both for determining Paul’s social status and for conceptualizing the nature of his letters, but they have been unable to reach a consensus. Using 2 Corinthians 10–13 as a test case, Ryan Schellenberg undertakes a set of comparisons with non-Western speakers—most compellingly, the Seneca orator Red Jacket—to demonstrate that the rhetorical strategies Paul employs in this text are also attested in speakers known to have had no formal training in Greco-Roman rhetoric. Since there are no specific indicators of formal training in the way Paul uses these strategies, their appearance in his letters does not constitute evidence that Paul received formal rhetorical education.

Ryan S. Schellenberg is Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies at Fresno Pacific University.

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