Jesus and Elocution

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Rhetoric class, more with Quintilian. John 14-16 in view.


I note that chapter 14, the reader should be able to pick up on several speeches. There is 14.1-7 which begins the long speech, albeit it is itself interrupted by a question from Thomas (14.5) followed by a brief answer. 14.8 has Philip asking a question which is answered in 14.9-21. Judas asks a question in 14.22 which is answered for the rest of the chapter. In 14.1-7, with the break of Thomas’ question in 16.5, the speech displays several elements which are similar, at least, with elocution. As throughout the entire speech, the image of Jesus and the Father is repeated at length (Geminatio) in 14.1-7. In this passage as well, Jesus’ character is developed as the one who is the mediator between the disciples and the Father, and later, between the Spirit and the disciples. There is also a picture of climax in 14.1-3 as well as 16.27-28. This section, if taken as a whole, would serve to persuade the audience to pay attention to the words of Jesus, as he establishing himself as the unique one who is in relationship with the Father, so much so as to return from the Father to united the disciples with God.

What follows in 14.9-13 contains further geminatio as well as interrogatio (14.9) which is also found in 16.5, 19, 31. In this section, unlike the previous one, there is a small ornament, in which Jesus gives to the future works of the disciples an embellishment, in that they will do greater workers than he. This section may fit the excitement role as it builds up to an onward looking promise for the disciples that as Elisha mirrored but outperformed Elijah, so too the disciples will outperform Jesus.

Throughout 14-16, the use of metaphors is used to describe What comes after the departure of Jesus. It is variously called the Advocate, the Spirit of Truth, and the holy Spirit. There is no clear delineation of who or what this is supposed to be in this passage, however, there is no question from the disciples regarding this entity; therefore, we must assume that the language which Jesus was using was well within line of perspicuity. Further, in 14.18, there is the metaphor of orphan which would establish a parental relationship between Jesus and the disciples. Finally, in 14.30, there is the metaphor of ‘ruler of the world’.

Evidentia may be found in 15.1-6 in which the attempt at establishment the relationship between Jesus and the disciples is further explained. It is also present in 15.17-25 in which Jesus is speaking about the relationship between the disciples and the world through his experience with the world. There are strong images and words employed here, such as sin, hate, slaver and master. Finally, the strong image of the woman who is in labor is used to give reassurance to the disciples that the mourning and pain of worldly hatred may last for a while, but that  one day it would be over, and that this day would break forth with joy. Interesting in the use of figures of speech and thought, as well as evidentia, is the implication by Jesus that he was using these things all along, but that soon nothing would be needed to veil his words. (16.25) Following this is the disciples’ words seem to declare that Jesus is now speaking plainly, without the use of figures of speech (16.29-30).

Finally, there also seems to the character of Jesus developed according the “manly, noble, chaste” requirements of Quintilian (8.3.6). He is trying to still his followers (14.27), promises to return (14.28), follows his Father’s command (14.31), and has suffered the same persecution of the disciples.  Further, Praeterito can be found in 14.28-30 16.12-14, 23. Obscurity is on the part of the disciples who admit that they now understand Jesus. Further, there seem to be no antiquisms. Taken as a whole, the speech of Jesus answers questions, entices the audience to add to the speech for the things that they do not know, contains little ornament, and fits nicely into the middle style.

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