“Rhétorique biblique” (RhBib)

Collection edited by Roland Meynet and Pietro Bovati

Although its roots go back at least to the eighteenth century, “rhetorical analysis” represents a new approach to biblical texts. Putting, if not always in doubt, at least in parentheses the history of the formation of the text and the problem of its sources – always hypothetical -, rhetorical analysis proposes to draw out the composition of the text in its final state, as it has been transmitted by tradition.

The first presupposition of rhetorical analysis is that the biblical texts, despite the incidents of their manuscript transmission, are not simply a collection of oral traditions, much less a compilation of small isolated units, but were composed with great care. The biblical authors are not merely redactors, they are authors, in the full sense of the word.

The second presupposition of this methodology is that all 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 according to 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, although influenced by Hellenism, are more a matter of Hebrew rhetoric than of classical Greco-Latin rhetoric. Therefore, one is entitled to speak not only of Hebrew rhetoric, but of biblical rhetoric.

The third presupposition methodological of rhetorical analysis is that the form of the text, its dispositio, is the main gateway to meaning. Not that the composition provides, directly and automatically, the meaning. However, when the formal analysis makes it possible to operate a reasoned division of the text, to define in a more objective way its context, to bring to light the organization of the work at the various levels of its architecture, the conditions are thus met which make it possible to undertake, on less subjective and fragmentary bases, the work of interpretation. Such is, indeed, the goal of any research of scientific type which intends to respect, through its object, the Subject who speaks.