A major scholarly collaboration exploring vivid visual rhetoric in the New Testament
From Jesus’s miraculous walk on water to the graphic horrors of hell, New Testament authors make vivid and unforgettable images appear before their audience’s eyes. In the past decade, scholarship on early Christian use of ancient rhetorical techniques has flourished. One focus of rhetorical criticism of the New Testament has been the function of ekphrasis, or vivid visual description. In this landmark collection, leading New Testament scholars come together to probe the purpose and import of ekphrasis in early Christian literature.
The research in this collection explores the relationship between vivid rhetoric and genre, taking into account technical features, authorial intent, and audience response. Specific topics include: • The New Testament’s rhetoric compared against Greco-Roman rhetorical handbooks • Juxtaposition between vivid and non-vivid rhetoric • The use of energeia in John’s Gospel to draw upon the reader’s multiple senses • Aesthetics and the grotesque in Revelation • The use of travelogue to create a virtual journey for the audience • Vivid rhetoric in early martyr literature
Vivid Rhetoric and Visual Persuasion is a must-read for scholars of early Christianity and rhetorical criticism. Readers will find this collection indispensable in understanding a complex feature of the New Testament in its historical context.
Bart B. Bruehler, Diane Fruchtman, Meghan Henning, Martina Kepper, Susanne Luther, Harry O. Maier, Gudrun Nassauer, Nils Neumann, Vernon K. Robbins, Gary S. Selby, Aldo Tagliabue, Sunny Kuan-Hui Wang, Annette Weissenrieder, Robyn J. Whitaker
Table of Contents
List of Abbreviations 1. “Before the Eyes”: A History of Vivid Rhetoric and Ekphrasis in the New Testament, by Meghan Henning and Nils Neumann 2. Experiencing Deadly Peril: Vivid Rhetoric in the Account of Jesus Walking on the Sea (Matthew 14:22–33), by Nils Neumann 3. Apocalyptic Ekphrasis and the Afterlife in Matthew 25: Vividness, Verisimilitude, and Mixed Messages, by Meghan Henning 4. Images of Women: A Study on Vivid Christology in Luke-Acts, by Gudrun Nassauer 5. Seeing Creation of God’s Divine Plan: Unseeable Being Becomes Visible in John 1, by Vernon K. Robbins 6. Visualizing the Resurrection of Lazarus: Human Senses and Vivid Rhetoric in John 11, by Sunny Kuan-Hui Wang 7. Vivid Description in the Narrative of Luke-Acts: Possibility, Patterns, and Purposes, by Bart B. Bruehler 8. Architecture and Medialized Presence: Jerusalem and Its Temples in Acts 21:27–30 and Ephesians 2:14, by Annette Weissenrieder with Martina Kepper 9. Of Walls, Temples, and Long Journeys: Image and Emotion in the Conversion Narrative of Ephesians 2:11–22, by Gary S. Selby 10. Vivid Vignettes: Lakes of Fire, Grotesque Feasts, and the Idea of Hell in Revelation 19:17–21, by Robyn J. Whitaker 11. Topographies of Conduct? Ethical Implications of the Ekphrastic Description of Jerusalem in Revelation 21, by Susanne Luther 12. Making a Spectacle: Vivid Spatiality and Early Christian Martyrology, by Harry O. Maier 13. Experience of Martyrdom: Immersion, and Lack Thereof, in Pontius’s Life of Cyprian, by Aldo Tagliabue 14. Salvific Suspense: Cinematic Ekphrasis in Paulinus of Nola’s Natalicium of 401, by Diane Fruchtman List of Contributors Indexes
Meghan Henning is associate professor of Christian origins at the University of Dayton. Her previous books include Educating Early Christians through the Rhetoric of Hell and Hell Hath No Fury: Gender, Disability, and the Invention of Damned Bodies in Early Christianity.
Nils Neumann is professor of biblical theology at Leibniz University Hannover. His previous books include Armut und Reichtum im Lukasevangelium und in der kynischen Philosophie and Lukas und Menippos.
“Henning and Neumann have assembled a stellar cast of contributors to illuminate the use of ekphrasis in the New Testament and other early Christian literature. With attention to reception history, the methods and criteria for identifying vivid visual rhetoric, and exegetical nuances, the essays in this volume not only describe the state of research but also significantly advance the study of ekphrasis in ancient Christian texts. I am not aware of another volume quite like this!” —Christopher W. Skinner Loyola University Chicago
“From its indispensable overview of the history of scholarship on vivid rhetoric and ekphrasis in the New Testament, to deep dives into the affective, sensory textual experiences of particular early Christian passages, Vivid Rhetoric and Visual Persuasion provides an essential companion for all who seek to understand the early Christian literary world. By curating a collection of essays from leading scholars expert in both vivid visual rhetorical techniques and the Christian sources they explore, Henning and Neumann have provided a true gift to help readers navigate what is now an unquestionably core element of New Testament study.” —Kylie Crabbe Australian Catholic University
“This book will serve both those who are new to the conversation about vivid rhetoric and those looking for the most comprehensive and up-to-date treatment of the topic in a single volume. This will be the standard reference work for the foreseeable future. It provides helpful definitions of relevant terms; attends to issues of genre; exemplifies theory by application to specific texts; and masterfully synthesizes work that has been done in sensory studies, affect theory, and rhetorical criticism. The introductory essay sets an excellent foundation for the history of the subject and its importance for interpreting the New Testament and other early Christian literature. To introduce students to the topic, instructors might easily assign the introductory chapter and pair it with one of the essays that focuses upon a particular text. The editors and authors have truly provided us a remarkable resource.” —Jaime Clark-Soles Southern Methodist University
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