In the ever green study of New Testament scholarship, the approaches to the New Testament text stand on the top. The NT Scholarship constantly endeavors to discover and generate innovative prototype for the approaches to the New Testament text. Among the many, Vernon K. Robbins who coined the term “Socio- Rhetoric criticism” is an extraordinary figure in the field of New Testament criticism. His work is considered to be one of most the significant arts to approach the New Testament text. This approach to the New Testament text is inclusive of literary, narrative, rhetorical, inter-textual, socio-scientific, cultural and ideological criticism together. Socio-rhetorical interpretation has become a multi-dimensional approach to texts guided by a multi-dimensional hermeneutic.” It is a comprehensive approach to interpretation that examines the text in light of each of the five dominant textures he has identified “It focuses on values, convictions and belief of both the text that a person read and the world the person live.” This approach exclusively deals with text. “At the same time it moves further to the world of the author and the present world. It appears that this approach meant to both life and language. Therefore, this paper attempts to explain the socio- rhetoric criticism of Vernon Robbins in detail which would help the student of the NT to see the text in wider ways. 1. Meaning of the Term Socio- Rhetoric
The term Socio- rhetoric is the combination of two words which implies “the socio- scientific criticism and rhetorical criticism.” Vernon Robbins defines Socio- rhetoric as; “the term ‘socio’ refers to the rich resource of modern anthropology and sociology that socio- rhetoric criticism brings to the interpretation of the text.” “While Socio-scientific approach focuses on social class, social system, personal and community status, people on the margin, and people in positions power Socio- rhetoric interpretation brings the ever growing insight of such modes of interpretation into practices of very complicated, detail exegesis of text.” The term rhetoric refers to the way language in a text is a means of communication among people. “It is also an art of persuasion.” 2. Historical Development of Socio- Rhetoric Criticism
It is important to know Historical development of socio- rhetoric criticism. It will provide route of socio-rhetoric criticism’s journey. “Socio-rhetorical interpretation began with the analysis and interpretation of social and cultural dynamics in written works.” Robbins’s 1975 study was an initial interpretation of social and cultural intertexture among the sea voyages in Acts and other Mediterranean accounts of sea voyages. The first sustained socio-rhetorical study was an analysis of the relation of the “we”-passages in Acts to ancient Mediterranean Sea voyages. ‘This study in 1975 revealed that traveling in a boat on the sea with other people created a social environment that made it natural for some authors in antiquity to use first-person plural “we” for literary accounts of sea voyages’. Robbins states that, “It is a full length exegetical method. It is an attempt to understand the background/sociological issues and the related category of analyzing how the rhetorical aspects of the text would have been understood in Greco-Roman Society.
The next level of socio-rhetoric analysis development is about teaching and learning in the gospel of mark. The proper study on this account was done by Kenneth Burkein 1984. “This study reveals Mediterranean teaching-learning cycle in Plato’s dialogues, Xenophon’s Memorabilia, ancient comedy, Philostratus’ Life of Apollonius, the Abraham story, the Moses story, the Elijah-Elisha story, the Israelite prophets, Philo of Alexandria, Josephus and rabbinic literature. Subsequent studies have built on the analysis and interpretation in this book.”
Study on Socio- rhetoric criticism went further during year of 1983 and 1991 which...