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The rhetorical construction of masculinity.

Any liturgical scenario offers to the (Christian or only "in the state of') auditorium a triple repertoire: ritualic, musical, and homiletic. In this study we intend to discuss this homiletic aspect.

The term "homily", which we will consider the synonym of "preach" (Christian lecture), comes from the Eline language having an initial meaning of gathering, reunion, link or conversation, dialogue, interlocution, group or crowd discussion. By time being the term "homily" acquired a particular meaning: teaching, counseling, and, subsequently, received a precise meaning, communication in Church, indispensable element of the Liturgy, a vector of transmitting, interpreting, and studying the revealed word.

Even if the homily does not identify itself with the lay, heathen oratory, it becomes a successful preach (1) only due to mixture of the preacher's charismatic talent and the laborious process of research, mediatation, essentialization, systematization and precise communication of the revealed message.

Homiletics represents the theoretic analysis field of homilies. Looking like rhetorics, (2) science and art (rather techne) of elaborating a persuasive discourse, the homiletics is the theoretic and methodological guideline of the homilies.

There are at least few fundamental aspects which differentiate the homiletics from the lay rhetoric. Firstly, homiletics is rhetoric of the sacred eloquntia, where the word, as logos, is the center of concerns. Secondly, while the rhetoric focuses on the mastery of delivering the lay word in order to convince, persuade or manipulate the auditorium, the homiletics assumes the revealed word and says it "differently," it changes into a herald messenger. Thirdly, if in oratory the verosimilitudine (3) becomes mostly a substitute for truth, in homiletics case, the "confession" is the specific imperative transmission and communication of the divine truth. And finally, if rhetoric is funded on the art of speaking and the intelligence of using different argumentation, homiletics is in service of the revealed word, even if it uses almost the same instruments.

Some manuals and older studies classify the church speech in four genres of preaches spoken in liturgical context: homilies, proper preaches, paraenesis (4) and religious lectures. Others classify preaches in accordance with the content of the biblical, dogmatic, moral, liturgical and historical writings, thus leaving the initial criterion and multiplying the homiletic interpretations.

Recent studies of homiletics opt for simpler classifications because of methodological and practical senses. Thus, if we take into consideration the moment when preaches are spoken, there are only two speech genres: one exegetical and the other thematic.

In accordance with the primary tradition, the homily had the role to explain and interpret the biblical read texts and it was spoken after the biblical readings in the first part of the Liturgy. The second part of the Liturgy, the one that belongs to the believers, had an autonomous status at some moment. Today, it has become a custom to move the preach to the end of the Liturgy, due to the length of the liturgical ritual or in most of the cases due to the followers who get the church after the Evangelical is read.

In this primary interpretation, the homily identifies with the exegetic homily. It seems that the oldest homily is "The Second Epistle to the Corinthians," written by Saint Clement, the Roman (5) in the first part of the second century B.C. Some histories and religious studies consider Origenes (6) the father of the homily, the true founder of the scientific research on Holy Scripture. Taking into account what his contemporaries declared, Origen interpreted almost the whole Holy Scripture (The Old and the New Testament) in more than 1000 homilies, commentaries and scholiums. (7)

For the time being, the homily loses its strict exegetic character becoming opened to the thematic one. The distinction between the exegetic and the thematic aspects led erroneously to the distinction between homily and preach on the account that the homily explains and interprets the biblical text, verse by verse, even word by word, while the preach is inclined to thematization. (8) In reality, we can consider the terms "homily" and "preach" as being synonyms, while the two approaching methods are only methodological perspectives which make the difference between the two homiliy (9) genres, one with an exegetic (or analytical) character, the other one with a thematic (or synthetic) character.

The biblical exegesis intends to establish the meaning of a holy book, of a text, even of a certain word, and the correct interpretation should take into account few rules, as the accurate translation, the critical textual, historical, cultural (10) and literary analysis, and the recording of the word meanings offered by other hagiographs. (11)

There are different approaches practiced by the Eastern and Western exegesis. The Eastern exegesis (12) follows closely the principles and the rules established by the Holy Tradition (13) and the Church Tradition. As it concerns the latter, there are three ways of textual interpretation: allegorical (figurative and metaphorical interpretation of the biblical texts), literary (ad literam interpretation of the biblical texts) and analogical or clerical (an interpretation in accordance with the norms imposed by tradition). On contrary, the Western exegesis uses more diversified methods. One of the most famous methods combines two interpreting methods of the texts: diachronical methods (the analyses of text writing, the research of the oral process that preceded the written process, the description of the syntactic aspect of the text and its semantic values, the identification of the multiple traditions and cultural influences suffered during the writing process and so on) and synchronical methods (structural analysis of the text, the reiteration of the narrative plot, the study of the rhetoric dimension, the text research from the pragmatical linguistics perspective).

If in the older versions of the biblical texts, the notions biblical "exegesis" and "hermeneutics" were used as being synonyms, later they expressed not only different realities but different subjects. The present studies have come to the conclusion that through biblical hermeneutics one understands the theoretical framework (rules, principles, and technics) which permit the discovery of the true sense of a sacral text, while the biblical exegesis is seen as a practical application of the principles and theoretical rules provided by hermeneutics and, at the same time, starting point in setting up the exegetic homily.

Today, the exegetic homily occupies a more significant place in the preoccupations of researchers and preachers. This might be the reason for a series of works that appeared in the last 20 years and are real practical manuals in preparing thoroughly the evangelic fragment. The creative itinerary of the preach has many stages (15) which accomplished with much wit become real successful preaches: the careful reading of evangelical pericope; the delimitation and analysis of the previous and later pericope context; the analysis of the parallel loci (e.g. the same fragments at Mathew, Marcus, Luca, John); the analysis word by word of the evangelical pericope and the discovery of the homiletic landmarks; the uttering of the theme (only in the thematic preach's case) and the structuring of an interpretative plan; the exhaustive documentation (biblical, from the liturgical tradition of Church, biblical commentaries, works of biblical exegesis, modern bibliography); the personal contribution (the resonance of the word, meditation, pray); the setting up of the homily (following the interpretative logics and looking for the meeting points between the Bible and life); the free exposition of the homily (eventually with a plan of ideas).

The other technical procedure is the thematic or synthetic homily. From many points of view the thematic homily is constructed like the aristleic triad, (17) logos--pathos--ethos and has the same purposes as the antic oratory: for example, Quintillianus who followed Cicero and thought of "informing, moving and being liked" (18) or docere--movere--delectare.

There is not anything new by affirming that the Christian preach appeared and developed from the old oratory. At one moment, even the Parents of Church practiced the heathen oratory or conducted studies of rhetoric. Even the ancient system of education, roughly maintained during the Middle Ages, imposed also to acquire the knowledge of rhetoric. In the 19th century the study of rhetoric suffered neglecting, being even taken out from the curriculum. Finally, in the ,60s of the 20th century, the rhetoric revived again due to the works of the Belgian Chaim Perelman (19) and the English Stephen E. Toulmin. (20) Then the schools of rhetoric and the research focused on rhetoric flourished, and the results came into attention of philosophy (the theory of argumentation), literature (stylistics), theatrology (art of declamation) and homiletics.

The five chapters of rhetoric are timeless landmarks for homilies. In its classical version, the art of speech was as a canon: inventio, dispositio, elocutio, memoria, pronuntiatio. They have been unequally approached. For example, elocutio was taken for rhetoric many times, inventio represented an intersection domain of rhetoric and dialectics, and memoria and pronuntiatio were less paid attention.

Inventio (to find out, to invent, to discover, to imagine) represents the research of all the persuasion means referring the theme of discourse: topoi (common places, invention places, as the cause, the effect, the comparison), the subjects, the arguments (the evidence, the information that supports the point of view), the persuasion techniques, the logical rationalments etc. From the homiletic point of view, inventio is the first stage the preacher should accomplish: to find the theme, the facts, the ideas connected with the theme, the bibliographic sources, and especially the personal sources.

Dispositio (placing, arrangement, order) is concerned with the way a discourse or a text is organized. The parts of speech are: exordium, narratio, partitio, confirmatio, reprehensio si peroratio. Placing the arguments in the homiletic discourse is a real art of composing, because of coherence, unity and the preacher's logic of argumentation.

Exordium (introduction) should take into account the type of the subject (prestigious, humble, obscure). It contains a principium (beginning), when the orator, respectively, the preacher, draws the attention of the auditorium (captatio benevolentiae), letting them know the debating issue, winning their benevolence. Finally, we enumerate the attributes of a quality exordium for a successful preach: short, concise, distinct, precise, insinuating, with a psychological impact (not irritant), subtle and tenacious.

Narratio (the exposition of facts, statement) must be brevis (short), aperta (clear) and probabilis (verosimile). It is short when avoids the unnecessary details, when it refers to unspoken things, when it does not repeat itself; it is clear when it keeps the order of the facts and does not make unnecessary digressions; it is vorosimile when the exposed fact could have happened. Partitio refers to the division of a discourse's content, as we may call it an "agenda" nowadays.

Confirmatio (argumentation) is the part of the speech where the speaker brings the evidence in order to convince the auditorium. The evidence is gathered from the involved people (name, character, sex, country, relatives, age, health, intellectual qualities, temperamental qualities, education, and profession, social condition, behavior, affectivity, occupation, mind, activity, personal events, statements) and the circumstances the evidence is found (those connected with a debate, with certain facts, the facts in contingent with the dispute, the consequences of these facts). But it is no need the thematical homily to satisfy all the criteria and the strategies of the rhetorical argumentation, because it has another specific, another destination, finality and even another auditorium.

Reprehensio is the part of speech that contributes to weak, reject and destroy the adversary's speech.

Peroratio constitutes the ending of the speech and contains three parts: enumeratio (summary) revises the main ideas exposed in different parts of the speech; (indignation) uses detrimental arguments, incites to hate or revolt against the adversary; conquestio (pathetic) tries to provoke the auditorium's pity.

Elocutio (stylization) represents the stage of writing the discourse. Here the rhetoric intersects literature, it insists upon the style, the writing, the detailed organization of discourse, it appeals to the figures of speech, to the rhythm effects, to choosing the words and ordering them in the phrase.

Memory refers to the speaker's improvisation ability and even the necessity of memorizing the discourse in order to present it at the right moment. Of course, memory is a problem not only for the speaker but also for the auditorium (how much the auditorium will retain from the things communicated by the orator or the preacher). For this purpose, the orator may use the repetition, description, enumeration.

Pronuntiatio (declamation) is the proper discourse, with the action strategies: mimic, voice effects, look, gestures, etc.

Besides all these mentioned above, we add also other rhetoric ... met in different older and recent works of rhetoric, as digresio (a subdivision of narration), which leads to a provisional skip from the main argument (for example, a good joke placed at a right moment) and propositio (the announcement of the discourse's theme).

But to this short incursion in the classical rhetoric we must add an amendment for both types of homilies, the exegetic and the thematic one: the priest is not a simple orator, but a confessor of the revealed truth, and the preach does not follow the personal success of the preacher but the transmission of the revealed divine message.


Spiru Haret University


(1.) Not in the way of pursuing the preacher's personal success (like in the lay oratory) but the success in preaching about God.

(2.) Vide Oswald Ducrot, Jean-Marie Schaeffer (1996), Noul dictionar enciclopedic al stiintelor limbajului (traducere de Anca Magureanu, Viorel Visan, Marina Paunescu), Bucharest: Babel, 110-118.

(3.) Verosimile = one that seems real, plausible, probable, possible. In the ancient Greece, Corax and Tisias (both of them orators, lawyers and politicians) realized the value of persuasion and emphasized the role of verisimilar. The verisimilar consists in a mental reconfiguration of some situations when we have not been witnesses, but which start spontaneously in each of us, following strict rules valuable for all minds. For example, the judge can say his opinion over facts he does not know only by hearing the witnesses and the contradictory parts, and his opinion is not determined by truth but verisimilar, the image suggested by the most skillful lawyer.

(4.) Paraenesis = (Greek: parainesis) occasional preach, a discourse that praises the virtue; exhortation, encouragement discourse.

(5.) John M. Court, Kathleen M. Court (2010), Un dictionar al Bibliei (traducere din limba engleza de Anca Irina Ionescu), Bucharest: Lider.

(6.) Vide Origen (1981), Scrieri alese. Part I. Din lucrarile exegetice la Vechiul Testament, 41-450 and (1982), Part II. Exegeze la Noul Testament (cu subtitlul Comentarii si Omilii la Evanghelii), 7-192. Traducere de T. Bodogae, Nicolae Neaga si Zorica Latcu. Studiu introductiv si note Teodor Bodogae. Bucharest: Editura Institutului Biblic si de Misiune al Bisericii Ortodoxe Romane.

(7.) Scholium = grammar or ctitical annotation of a classical (biblical) text.

(8.) Alfred Bertholet, (1995), Dicfionarul religiilor. Iasi: Editura Universitatii Alexandru Ioan Cuza, 316.

(9.) Gordon, Vasile (2001), Introducere in omiletica. Bucharest: Editura Universitatii din Bucuresti.

(10.) Vide Danielle Fouilloux s.a. (1998), Dictionar cultural al Bibliei. (Traducere din limba franceza de Ana Vancu). Bucharest: Nemira.

(11.) Hagiographer = author who studies and writes about the saints'lives.

(12.) Ioan Mircea, (1995), Dicponar al Noului Testament A-Z, Bucharest: Editura Institutului Biblic si de Misiune al Bisericii Ortodoxe Romane, 164.

(13.) The Holy Tradition is composed of the teaching content assumed by the Holy Apostles directly from Jesus Christ and mentioned in Evangelicals and the other writings of the New Testament.

(14.) The tradition of the Church contains everything was written and kept after the death of Apostles and their disciples: the writings of the Apostles, the Holy Apostles, the ascetics, martyrs, theologists and the holy inspired people (hymnologists, liturgists, canonists).

(15.) Vide Eugen Jurca (2009), Retorica si omiletica. Curs practic. Bucharest: Gutenberg, 45-112.

(16.) Evangelical Pericope = an Evangelic excerpt or part of a chapter, having its own certain meaning.

(17.) Vide Aristotle (2004), Retorica. (editie bilingva, traducere, studiu introductiv si index de Maria Cristina Andries, note si comentarii de Stefan Sebastian Maftei). Bucharest: IRI.

(18.) Quintillian (1974), Arta oratorica. Traducere, studiu introductiv, tabel cronologic, note, indici de Maria Hetco. Bucharest: Minerva, vol I, 242.

(19.) Chaim Perelman et Lucie Olbrechts-Tyteca, (2008), Traite de l'argumentation. La nouvelle rhetorique. 6e edition, Edition de L'Universite de Bruxelles.

(20.) Toulmin, Stephen E. (2006), The Uses of Argument. Updated Edition, Cambridge University Press.

Aurel Cazacu is associate professor at Faculty of Journalism, Communication and Public Relations, Spiru Haret University. He is author of books such as Argumentarea. Teorie si aplicatti, Introducere in logica formala, Teoria argumentarii, O paradigma a inteligentei romanesti. Logica lui Titu Maiorescu, and Didactica filosofiei. He has published several papers in peer reviewed academic journals indexed in CEEOL, EBSCO, ICAAP and Ulrich's.
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Author:Cazacu, Aurel M.
Publication:Journal of Research in Gender Studies
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:4EXRO
Date:Jul 1, 2014
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