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Title: Epistolary Rhetoric in Paul's Letters
Subtitle: The Letter to Philemon as a Test Case
Author(s): PITTA, Antonio
Journal: Biblica
Volume: 103    Issue: 1   Date: 2022   
Pages: 114-130
DOI: 10.2143/BIB.103.1.3290615

Abstract :
Pauline studies have witnessed an ever-increasing gap between epistolography and rhetoric over the last forty years. Attempting to overcome this artificial division, the present contribution examines the level of orality present in the letter to Philemon. The high level of orality that runs through the letter is demonstrated in a topology of presence in absence, in the use of the epistolary aorist, and in prominent figures of speech. The most fitting rhetorical epistolary genre is that of supplication, to request that Onesimus become Paul’s close associate. In this case, letter and rhetoric, rather than being betrothed but never wed, seem to have been engendered as twins in the womb of orality, a text dictated when sent to be proclaimed upon arrival.

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