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Identity of the RBS

Founded on 16 March 2006 in Rome, the “Society for the Study of Biblical and Semitic Rhetoric” (RBS) is the only one:

  • dedicated exclusively to the study of Semitic literary works,
    • especially in the biblical field, both in the New and Old Testament;
    • but also in the field of other Semitic texts, especially Islam.
  • that is therefore concerned with detecting and describing the specific laws of the particular rhetoric that presided over the elaboration of the texts, the importance of which is in no way inferior to that of the Greek and Latin worlds to which Western civilisation is heir.

Nor should it be forgotten that Western civilisation itself is also heir to the Judaeo-Christian tradition that finds its origin in the Bible, i.e. in the Semitic world.

More generally, the texts we study are the founding texts of three great religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Such a scientific study, which is a prerequisite for a better mutual understanding, would only contribute to a rapprochement between those who claim to belong to these different traditions.

Several learned societies exist whose objective is the study of rhetoric in general, more particularly of classical Greco-Latin rhetoric. The best known is the «International Society for the History of Rhetoric»; but there are others:


The purpose of the RBS

The purpose of the RBS is twofold, research and training:

  • Research: to promote research projects, which are primarily analyses of Semitic texts according to the procedures of Semitic rhetorical analysis, or which are also investigations into the laws of this rhetoric;
  • International Conferences: exchanges between scholars and universities working in the same field of biblical and Semitic rhetoric are carried out in particular through the International Conferences that take place every odd-numbered year, at the end of September;
  • Publications: the Proceedings of the Conferences as well as the personal research are published in the series “Rhetorica Biblica et Semitica“, a series that has become part of the Pontifical Gregorian University, published by Peeters Publisher, in which the various previous series managed by the RBS have merged.
  • Website: the Association’s website ( aims to facilitate the exchange of material among members and with all those interested in the subject of Semitic rhetoric.
  • Training: since 2014, Seminars in Biblical Rhetorical Analysis are organised every year in different languages: in even years the seminar lasts five days, at the end of September, in odd years it lasts three days and is followed by the International Conference. Under certain conditions, these seminars are validated by the Department of Biblical Theology of the Gregorian Faculty of Theology.


The Founding Members

The «Founding Members» are :

  • Anna Beatrice FEDERICI, Presidente
  • Roland MEYNET, Segretario
  • Jacek ONISZCZUK, Tesoriere (1966-2017)
  • Marie HENDRICKX (1953-2020)
  • Nicola RIVA.

Roland Meynet, a French Jesuit, was professor of biblical theology at the Faculty of Theology of the Gregorian University; Jacek Oniszczuk, a Polish Jesuit, was beginning his teaching of biblical theology at the same faculty. The other members are not biblical scholars by profession; they are friends who wanted to help in the foundation of the RBS: Anna Beatrice Federici kindly accepted to become the first President, Marie Hendrickx, a Belgian-French theologian, was working at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Nicola Riva, from the Opera di Nazaret, was also secretary of the specialisation in Science and Philosophy of the Faculty of Philosophy of the Gregorian University.

Offices of the Association

Honorary President

  • His Eminence, Cardinal Albert VANHOYE, sj

Everyone knows the role that this eminent exegete has played in the history of biblical rhetoric, particularly with his study on the literary structure of the Letter to the Hebrews.

Honorary Members

  • Prof. Marc FUMAROLI (1932-2020)

Holder of the chair of rhetoric at the Collège de France,

member of the Académie Française

  • Prof. Laurent PERNOT,

Director of the CARRA (Centre d’analyse des rhétoriques religieuses de l’Antiquité),

member of the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres

  • Prof. Michel SERRES (1930-2019)


member of the Académie Française

Board of the RBS

  • Pietro BOVATI, President
  • Roland MEYNET, Secretary
  • Francesco GRAZIANO, Treasurer


  • Francesco GRAZIANO, Responsible of the Website
  • Bernard WITEK, Responsible of the General Bibliography

Statute of the RBS

The RBS, founded as an Association under Italian law in 2016, was dissolved according to the decision of the Extraordinary Assembly on 1 October 2016, to be integrated into the Faculty of Theology of the Gregorian University.

Rules of the RBS Association (Italian)