Rhetorical_Analysis - Rhetorical Analysis What is Rhetorical Analysis Every text-oral or written-is in some sense rhetorical which is to say every

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What is Rhetorical Analysis? Every text—oral or written—is, in some sense rhetorical, which is to say, every text is a strategic presentation of particular ideas. Typically, we understand, or fail to understand, the meaning of a text without thinking about how or why it works the way it does. Rhetorical analysis seeks, more explicitly, to understand how texts are used to create meaning, construct knowledge, and induce the reader or hearer to take action. Rhetorical analysis assumes that an individual author may have one or more aims in writing—to inform, to teach, to delight, to entertain, to analyze, to defend, to attack, to explore, to meditate, to praise, to blame, and/or to persuade. Generally speaking, then, rhetorical analysis aims to understand how “rhetors 1 and texts function to persuade readers / hearers to adopt ideas or act in certain ways. Rhetorical analysis, according to Donald Juel, is applied to the New Testament at three levels: 1. On the level of the New Testament text itself. The assumption is that NT authors seek to argue a case, whether by poetry, letter, or narrative. 2. On the level of the history of interpretation. The assumption is that NT interpreters seek to persuade readers to adopt ideas and actions in light of their particular historical situation. 3. On the level of contemporaneous interpretation. Like interpreters from the past we too seek to make a case for a particular understanding of the NT text. Rhetorical analysis assumes that all interpretation is undertaken for particular purposes and for particular audiences. Rhetorical analysis seeks to understand and make clear how this works. Rhetorical analysis is interested to know how the NT functions in the arguments we make to one another and what arguments ought to be made. Aristotle and Rhetorical Analysis . Aristotle observed that all speaking involves three characters: the speaker’s (ethos), the text’s (logos), and the audience’s (pathos). Aristotle’s point is that authors use essentially three basic ways to persuade a readership to adopt his/her ideas or to encourage the adoption of a course of action—ethos, logos, pathos. 1. An ethos-driven argument relies on the reputation of the author. 2. Aristotle: If hearers believe that a speaker has good sense, good moral character, and goodwill they will be inclined to believe what the speaker says. 3. Today we would add consideration of the speaker’s expertise of authority in the select subject matter. That’s the reason people hawking aspirin in 1 For the purposes of this course we are using “rhetor” to name the one who produces a text or speech. The term draws attention to the purpose(s) which the author or orator seeks to accomplish. 1
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This note was uploaded on 04/07/2008 for the course RELI 120 taught by Professor Thompson during the Spring '08 term at Gonzaga.

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Rhetorical_Analysis - Rhetorical Analysis What is Rhetorical Analysis Every text-oral or written-is in some sense rhetorical which is to say every

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