Rhetoric and Religion
Rhetoric can be found in almost any written or spoken word. Specifically in religion, rhetoric is extremely important.
Jesus was the best rhetorician of all. He spoke in parables to convey surface level teachings to those who could not understand the deeper meanings. By doing so, he was able to teach his audience at any stage of spirituality. I think it is incredible that when I personally read his teachings, each time I find new depth or new meaning.
There are many examples of rhetoric that can be found in LDS scripture. Take Samuel the Lamanite who cried repentance on the wall, or Ammon who preached to King Lamoni. Had these prophets not been able to utilize rhetoric, the Nephites would've never looked for the sign of Jesus' birth and King Lamoni and his people would have never been converted. These prophets understood that rhetoric is the key to influencing people, and utilized it to the best of their abilities.
Augustine was a convert to the Christian church, who once criticized the bible for its lack of rhetoric. But upon intense analysis, he, himself, found that there is all sorts of rhetoric in the Bible. Augustine really understood Christian doctrine, that anything that goes contrary to good Christian morals should be taken figuratively. A lot of figurative language can be found in the bible, as well as the book of mormon.
Nowadays prophets speak to us at general conference, missionaries spread the gospel around the world, and people join the church every day. It is because of the rhetorical devices and strategies used in their speech that they are able to feel the spirit and believe the words of the prophets and missionaries.
Rhetoric is one of the most important components of the gospel that can be found in the scriptures.
Rhetoric in Jacob 2-3
Jacob uses a number of rhetorical devices in his sermon in Jacob 2-3. First, he starts off making a persuasive appeal to the emotions of the audience using pathos. He allows himself to be vulnerable in front of the people by admitting that his garments are not clean and that by teaching, he hopes to clean himself. This allows the people to fully listen to what he says and to strive to believe on his words.
Jacob later makes another pathetic appeal to the audiences emotions when he begins to speak about how their God would love to clean them and to see them follow Him in righteousness. No one would want to change if there is no reason to. Jacob conveys the love of the father and tells the audience of His love for them.
Jacob also uses cause and effect to persuade repentance. He explains that because their actions have been abominable in the eyes of God, the consequences that will come unless they repent will be dire and sad.
Jacob also compares them to the Lamanites, their hated enemies, who are prospering more than they because of their righteousness. He makes this persuasive appeal to show them that they are suffering because of their wickedness and also to show that righteous leads to prospering.
Jacob also uses repetition. He tells the audience several times to remember, triggering their minds to really remember what he is saying. After all, rhetoric counts for nothing if it is not remembered and does not spark change.
While there are many more instances of the use of rhetorical devices in Jacob 2-3, theses particular ones stuck out to me. I think that by studying the scriptures analytically while looking for rhetorical devices, we can get more meaning out of their teachings.