Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Final Exam Essays: Maren McInnes

Short Essay

Old Bibles are beautiful. With their carefully scripted words, bright colors, and intricate illustrations, the books look elegant. The words in these books are also elegant, as well as eloquent. This religious book, like the Christian religion, employs rhetoric for part of its success.

Rhetoric is about communicating and persuading effectively. Success in religion often comes from communicating valued ideas to individuals and persuading them to convert and follow the religion’s teachings.

But artful communication and persuasion has not always been in harmony with all aspects of Christianity.  In fact, initially the perceived lack of rhetoric almost turned away Bishop of Hippo, Augustine. Augustine was a rhetorician and an educator and he initially rejected Christianity because it wasn’t eloquent. But after some persuasion from his mother Monica, he listened to Ambrose, who was an eloquent speaker. Augustine took the message to heart and after a few other events was converted.

He then wrote On Christian Teaching all about interpreting the Bible and preaching—all regarding rhetoric.

How messages are conveyed is often as important as the messages themselves, as can be seen in this example.

Today, rhetoric is still important in religion.

For example, in the LDS church leaders speak eloquently. Their words often made nice, neat, persuasive quotes that then become memes online, complete with pretty pictures and curly text. These quotes can make messages more memorable, and these perhaps more meaningful.

There could be some dangers with rhetoric and religion. First, individuals could focus too much on the presentation rather than the message itself. Also, people can think that religious leaders who try to persuade are being deceitful. But ultimately, rhetoric in religion can be beneficial because it can communicate messages well.

Short Rhetorical Analysis

In Jacob 2–3, Jacob employs many rhetorical devices in his speech to the people of Nephi whom he calls his “beloved brethren” (audience). Jacob’s speech is carefully arranged so that his message can be the most persuasive. This is necessary because his message is calling the people to repentance—which requires careful persuasion.
First, Jacob sets up his ethos. Jacob is the brother of Nephi, who recently passed away (kairos). He is a leader among the people (authority) and in the first few verses, he explains that he is responsible to God (supernatural).
He directs his comments to the sinners in the group and expresses sadness that he has to speak with “boldness” about the “wickedness.” There is antithesis here, where Jacob contrasts the “tender,” “delicate,” and “chaste” feelings of the wives and children with the wickedness and the desire to have the words heal wounds (personification) and having the words be a “dagger” (metaphor). 
Throughout this section, Jacob relies heavy on the emotional appeals of his words (pathos) to convince the sinners to repent. One example of this is found in the anaphora in verses 15–16, where Jacob passionately repeats, “O that . . .” first listing things he hoped God would do and then expressing his wishes for what the people will do. The appeal to emotion is also found in Jacob’s use of rhetorical questions that force the listeners to reflect on his words.

Later in the chapter, Jacob further establishes his ethos by alluding to David and Solomon (v. 23–25). He also quotes God (authority and supernatural, again).

Finally, in chapter 2, Jacob says that the people have sinned worse than the Lamanites (comparison). This seemingly paradoxical, even almost ironic situation (considering the Nephites are usually labeled righteous and the Lamanites unrighteous) is continued into chapter 3 when Jacob explains that the Lamanites are more righteous. He uses logos to qualify this statement explaining exactly how they are more righteous (5–7).

Towards the end, Jacob uses cause/effect explaining what could happen if the people do not repent.

There are many more rhetorical devices in this epideictic speech (condemning the base) including polysyndeton (throughout), degree (2:22), chiasmus (3:7), as well as the ones mentioned above in other places to name a few.

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