Monday, October 16, 2006

Socio-Rhetorical Criticism and the Promise it Holds for Leadership Study

I am leading a workshop tomorrow on the use of new methods of reading Scripture and it's use in leading students in higher education and research. I have been using one of the newer approaches in reading Biblical texts, socio-rhetorical criticism, because of it's high programmatic approach and its socio-cultural focus. Vernon Robbins explains the basic premise of this approach:

"As the twentieth century ends and the third millenium begins, socio-rhetorical interpretation has become a multi-dimensional approach to texts guided by a multi-dimensional hermeneutic. Rather than being another method for interpreting texts, socio-rhetorical interpretation is an interpretive analytical approach that evaluates and reorients its strategies as it engages in multi-faceted dialogue with the texts and other phenomena that come within its purview. The approach does not claim to be comprehensive. Rather, the claim is that the approach uses the insights of sociolinguistics, semiotics and ethnography in an interactionist philosophical mode that sets ancient, modern and post-modern systems of thought in energetic dialogue with one another."

It is my growing conviction that a clearer understanding of the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures holds the promise of a resurgence of moral and values-based approaches to leadership today. Only when our practice of leadership is utterly informed and fueled by the Word of God will we have the kind of Christian leadership that will change the world.


Robbins, V.R. 1999. Socio-Rhetorical Interpretation from its Beginnings to the Present. Unpublished paper delivered at the South African New Testament Society.