“Retorica biblica” (ReBib)

Series directed by Roland Meynet and Pietro Bovati

Although its roots date back at least to the nineteenth century, the so-called “rhetorical analysis” represents a new approach to biblical texts. Leaving aside the history of the formation of the text and the problem of its sources – always hypothetical anyway -, rhetorical analysis attempts to highlight the composition of the text in its final state, as it has been transmitted to us.

The first assumption of rhetorical analysis is that the biblical texts, despite the vicissitudes of their manuscript transmission, are not merely a collection of oral traditions, much less a compilation of unconnected passages, but were composed with great care. Biblical authors are not merely editors; they are authors, in the true sense of the word.

The second assumption of the methodology is that the biblical texts are governed by a specific rhetoric. The books written in Hebrew were composed, not according to the rules of Greco-Latin rhetoric, but following the laws, always better known, of Hebrew, or more broadly Semitic, rhetoric; the Greek books of the First Testament, as well as those of the New Testament, though influenced by Hellenism, are governed more by Hebrew rhetoric than by classical Greco-Latin rhetoric. Therefore, one can rightly speak, not only of Jewish rhetoric, but of “biblical rhetoric.”

The third methodological assumption of rhetorical analysis is that the form of the text is the main door that opens access to meaning. It is true that composition does not allow us to grasp, directly and automatically, the meaning. However, the formal analysis allows to make a reasoned division of the text, to define in a more objective way the context, to highlight the organization of the work at different levels of its architecture; for this reason, the conditions are outlined that allow to undertake, on a less subjective and fragmentary basis, the work of interpretation, the purpose of any scientific research, which intends to respect, through its object, the Subject who speaks.