I already asked this question on the writing forum, but I suppose the subject matter is better suited here.

Once again, I am writing a commentary on the book of Galatians, while employing a socio-rhetorical analysis.

The writer introduces himself as an Apostle, establishing his authority, and concludes with reprimanding "false apostles".

The ideas are juxtaposed, being separated by a large number of juxtaposing words, concepts, and allusions. (Flesh and spirit, life and death, Hebrew and Greek, male and female etc.)

I am attempting establish that the document as a whole begins and ends with opposing concepts that are only separated by the repeated use of the same rhetorical devices applied to the beginning and ending of the letter.

In doing this, the writer has persuaded the reader to accept the introductory and concluding statements, which are quite contrary to one another, by using similarly contrasting phrases between the two opposing ideas.

I'm hoping there is a definitive term to apply to this technique.

I'm trying to be as clear as possible. I would like to identify the arrangement as a whole. The construction appears to be what I can only define as an "expanded juxtaposition", at least, abstractly speaking.

I've never seen such a mode of persuasion used in any other literature. Is there a technical term for this type of format, or have I stumbled across something that needs defining?

  • 1
    Maybe Rhetorical antithesis. Dec 25, 2019 at 9:12
  • Chiasmus, perhaps — (X is also the shape of a cross...)
    – Joseph Weissman
    Dec 25, 2019 at 15:07
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    Dec 25, 2019 at 17:28

1 Answer 1


I had to re-skim Galatians to see what you were getting at, and while I could pick out a few rhetorical devices that are used within the text, I think you may be conflating the concept of a rhetorical device with the overall rhetorical argument that Paul in making. Rhetorical devices are small, localized things meant to give heft, emphasis, or power to a particular point in the text (at most across a sentence or two). Most rhetorical devices are either ironic or aesthetic — i.e., they introduce intentional discontinuity or exaggerated stylism meant to draw attention to a point — but Galatians is written in a fairly plain and earnest style that isn't tricked out with a whole lot them.

The rhetorical argument in G is an exercise in pathos: an effort to persuade through emotions. Mostly it's a Hero's Journey story meant to suggest that only Paul has the proper life experience to transmit the gospel in an unfiltered form, and that people should follow his example and cling to his writing, and not be influenced by other views.

If there is a specific device you're trying to name, please provide a couple of examples form the text. Maybe we can say more.

  • Ted, please don't take this as sarcasm or assumption. I greatly appreaciate your input, and it has me thinking. I'm not in any way attempting to challenge your familiarity with the book of Galatians or the Scriptures in general. I would contend that Paul used a unique blend of logos, pathos, and ethos. After a spending a tremendous amount of time in this book, I have come to the conclusion that it is a literary masterpiece. To answer you properly I need to post again, due to the character limit. I will get back to you in a little bit. I'm on the way to visit family. Thanks again! Dec 25, 2019 at 19:43
  • No worries. I know the bible well for someone who doesn't identify as Christian (better than many Christians do, though clearly not on a level with a real scholar). I accept my limitations. I can see the appeal to ethos (since that's endemic to any religious plea), and while I don't see much in the way of logos I'm not likely to argue over it much. But I still see the style of the piece as plain and earnest (un-frilled, if you prefer). Difference in tastes, perhaps... Enjoy your visit! Dec 25, 2019 at 21:51

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