RBL review of Paul’s Argumentation in Galatians

argumentationReview of Biblical Literature has posted a review of Mika Hietanen, Paul’s Argumentation in Galatians: A Pragma-Dialectical Analysis of Galatians 3:1-5:12. (Library of New Testament Studies: European Studies on Christian Origins). London: T&T Clark International, 2007. 0567031276, 9780567031273.

Johan S. Vos reviews this book in three pages and finds it a helpful contribution but criticises Hietanen for not following “the rules for a dialogical discussion” and for not being “more open to the existing alternative views.”

In this book Hietanen criticises the current approaches to rhetorical investigation in Galatians because there was no standard classical rhetorical paradigm. There is no question that biblical scholars have come up with radically varied results when defining Galatians according to rhetorical models. Several years ago I compared the rhetorical divisions and labels of Betz, Brinsmead, Smit, Kennedy, Hester, Hall, Vouga, Mack, Bachmann, Russell, and Witherington. The differences between the various paradigms are quite noticeable. For example, the number of divisions range from four (Kennedy, Hall, Russell) to ten (Hester). Even those who agree on the number of sections do not agree on how to label them. There is no question that there needs to be a reexamination of the role that rhetorical patterns played in Paul’s composition of Galatians but from what Vos says Hietanen’s pragma-dialectical approach does not seem to have created the definitive study on this subject.

2 responses to “RBL review of Paul’s Argumentation in Galatians

  1. Only now saw this! A problem is that rhetoric and argumentation can mean many things … The earlier studies presenting arguments relating to DISPOSITIO have very little to do with what I’ve done. Argumentation analysis is in a way a step further in a specific direction from rhetoric.

    What I especially tried to do was to evaluate Paul’s argumentation. I found many problems. This is not new, but by using a new method, I tried to describe the problems with greater clarity than before.

    I don’t think that Vos’ review is alltogether fair. I made it clear that I won’t go into dialogue with all earlier Paul-research (200 pages of text is a limited space, after all). I would never claim to have said the definitive word on anything, but this should not change the fact that I have said somehting new.

    • Thanks for taking the time to clarify your approach and respond to his criticism. He does mention that your book is a useful contribution to the discussion on Paul’s
      argumentation although some may overlook this endorsement.

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