Forensic speeches in Acts 22-26 in their literary environment: a rhetorical study.
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Hogan, Derek K.
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This dissertation offers an analysis of the form of the forensic speeches that occur in Acts 22-26 and the function of these speeches and the trial scenes of which they are a part. The study argues that these speeches manifest a basic reliance on the ancient rhetorical tradition as do most of the forensic speeches in both ancient novels and ancient histories. The trial narratives also function in a similar manner to trials in other ancient narrative contexts. The trial of Paul is not settled with any formal verdict from within the trial, but rather Paul's innocence is shown through his deliverance from the storm at sea and the snakebite recorded in Acts 27-28. After an introductory chapter which briefly covers matters of previous research and methodology, Chapter two reviews the guidelines given by the various rhetorical manuals such as the one by Quintilian concerning the appropriate form of a forensic speech. Chapters three and four examine trial scenes with speeches in ancient novels and ancient histories respectively. They conclude that most of the speeches show some influence of the rhetorical tradition as outlined in the handbooks. They further find a common tendency to have the cases decided outside the trial proper. Cases in which the trial was decided within the legal procedures but unjustly were commonly corrected by forces outside the trial. Chapter five focuses on the trial narrative of Paul at the end of Acts. It finds that the speeches given roughly fit the rhetorical form suggested by the manuals, although interruptions leave the speeches incomplete. It argues that the shipwreck and snake-bite are integral parts of the trial narrative and would fit the ancient audience's expectation to have Paul's innocence shown outside the trial itself. Such confirmation of his innocence yields further narration of Paul's trial in Rome unnecessary.