A text-centered rhetorical analysis of Paul's letter to Titus
Genade, Aldred Auguse
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This study has been conducted upon the presupposition that the Letter to Titus still has to benefit from a thorough rhetorical critical analysis that will demonstrate its uniqueness as a coherent, comprehensive portion of New Testament literature that can be interpreted independently from the two letters to Timothy. Accordingly, a review of existing scholarship on the Pastorals generally and Titus specifically was conducted (Section1) followed by a comprehensive text-centred rhetorical analysis of the Letter to Titus (Section 2). Finally, a summary of the results of this study was presented (Section 3). In Section 1, the review of existing scholarship on the authorship, theology, structure and coherency, and rhetorical approaches to Titus revealed how, due to the pervasiveness of the authenticity or authorship debate about the Pastorals, the Letter to Titus has been marginalised and interpreted in the light of the Timothean correspondence. In all the above categories, the individuality and uniqueness of Titus have been compromised. The authenticity of the Pastoral Letters went unchallenged until the turn of the nineteenth century when German scholars expressed their doubts about the alleged Pauline authorship of this corpus. The key dispute issues related to theological, ecclesiological, stylistic and historical inconsistencies that New Testament scholars observed in their analysis of the three letters. In response to these apparent inconsistencies, various theories were developed to account for the origin of the three letters. The first was the pseudonymous or fiction hypothesis according to which it is argued that the Pastorals were authored by someone other than Paul, but who used his name, probably some time after his death. Scholars who defend Pauline authorship of the Pastorals have challenged pseudonymity on the basis of ethics, history, hermeneutics, and apostolic objections. The origin of the letters have also been explained by the following theories: fragment hypothesis, secretary or amanuensis hypothesis and the allonymity or allepigraphy hypothesis. Theology, Christology, pneumatology and soteriology are central emphases in the theology of Titus, but tend to be interpreted in relationship with the other two letters. Structurally, the Letter to Titus, when compared to the other Pastorals, has been described as not having any structure, being incoherent. This position has been proposed by James Miller. In defence, Ray van Neste has argued for the coherence of the letter. Rhetorical studies devoted exclusively to Titus have been found to be severely lacking. The exception has been the work by Joachim Classen entitled “A rhetorical reading of the Epistle to Titus”. While having much to commend it, the article has been shown to have several serious shortcomings: although the article deals with what is there, it does not address the issue of persuasion; in other words, it does not evaluate why the author says things in the way he does; it is more exegetical than rhetorical; it is not a comprehensive treatment of the whole letter; it is silent about the obvious theological emphases in the letter. There have been increasing calls for an appreciation of the three letters individually. This study attempted to respond to that call on the basis of the following hypothesis: A thorough text-centred rhetorical approach to the Letter of Titus (i.e. without relating it to the other two Pastoral Letters or approaching it in terms of the authenticity/inauthenticity debate) will yield new insights for its interpretation. In Section 2 the rhetorical situation was presented followed by a comprehensive rhetorical analysis of the letter, using a text-centred, minimal theory framework approach, formulated by D.F. Tolmie (2005). The objective was to investigate and analyse the rhetorical strategy of the author from the text, which was divided into 11 rhetorical units. Each unit was demarcated and described in terms of the dominant rhetorical objective of the author. This was done based on a verse-by-verse analysis of the text. This approach yielded much insight into the unique rhetorical structure of the letter as a whole and provided rich insights into the coherence of the letter. A variety of rhetorical techniques revealed the intricate rhetorical structure that characterise this short letter. Some techniques have been observed that may not yet have been categorised by scholars to date. In Section 3 the results of the study have been summarised. It sets out the rhetorical objective of the text in terms of the chronological development of the author’s argument as it develops from unit to unit. A second way to describe the rhetorical strategy of the author has been described in terms of the overlap between the various units which revealed several controlling rhetorical objectives. Furthermore, the rhetorical techniques used in the letter have been summarised in this section. New techniques have also been defined and listed in the concluding section. The study concludes with the conviction that the Letter to Titus can stand independently from the rest of the Pastorals and makes a significant contribution in our understanding and appreciation of Paul’s use of rhetoric.