Rhetoric in Paul’s Letter to Philemon

I am uploading a paper I wrote at Harding Graduate School of Religion for Dr. Oster’s class on Paul’s Prison Letters on Paul’s Use of Rhetoric in Philemon for all you Philemon fans out there. This paper discusses slavery in the ancient world, ancient Greek rhetoric and more specifically the rhetorical devices that Paul uses in his letter to Philemon. I sure wish I had a socio-rhetorical commentary from Ben Witherington when I wrote this paper. Here is the paper in pdf. By the way, if you are looking for a really good commentary on Philemon have a look at Joseph Fitzmyer’s commentary in the anchor Bible commentary series. It is excellent.

Sin, Aristotle, and the Tragic Hero

Ryken gives an interesting observation about sin in his book How to Read the Bible as Literature. It is in the context of discussing tragic heroes who, in spite of their great ability, fall due to a character flaw.

“Ordinarily a tragic hero possesses something that we call greatness of spirit. All of this grandeur is brought tumbling down bby a final trait of the tragic hero-a tragic flaw of character. Aristotle’s word for it was hamartia (translated “sin” in the New Testament) a missing of the mark. Aristotle described it as ‘some great error or frailty,’ some ‘defect which is painful or destructive.’ In other words, tragedy always portrays caused suffering…Drawn in two or more directions, the tragic hero makes a tragic choice that leads inevitably to catastrophe and suffering.” (Ryken, 83-84).