Regardless of the sect, changes and developments can be found throughout the history of religion. These periods of evolution can change what is being said, as well as how it is said. The early Catholic Church had complete control of the Bible and could interpret what they wanted from the word of God. The content was mostly memorized and read from Latin Bibles. Because the content was so inaccessible, the way that the gospel was learned became repetitious and minimal.
William Tyndale was one of many protestant figures to produce change in Christianity. By working toward translating the Bible into English and many different languages, Tyndale and others totally changed the study and practice of Christianity. During these years, literacy started to increase in Protestant areas as a result of this advent. People were able to read for themselves the words of Christ and have a more personal connection with the doctrines. Thus started an eruption of different interpretations of what "The Church" should be, how we should live, and what our role is in the Gospel. Instead of hearing a few selections of Latin, they were able to search the entire scriptures for answers and guidance. They didn't have to rely on their church authorities when they could read the testimonies of witnesses directly from the source. Though the content from before didn't change, the interpretations, context, and accessibility changed dramatically.
The rhetoric has carried over to modern day religion. Whenever there is a controversial change or incident in religion, the way that the churches and their members respond changes as well. Religion can quickly flip from purely deliberative oratory which helps us live good lives, to epideictic and deliberative conversations used to accuse, blame, or defend. A recent example is with the new policy change regarding children of same-gender parents. Because this was seen as a major change, both sides of the argument immediately changed from a tone of exhorting to do good and dissuading from evil, to voices of attacking, defending, and blaming. Not much changed has changed within the doctrine of the church, but the way that we teach, what we focus on, and how we address certain topics has definitely evolved over the years.
Short Rhetorical Analysis
As we see in many speeches, Jacob starts these chapters with an emphasis on ethos. He boldly claims his authority and responsibility to God and states his purpose in speaking. Throughout his address, he continues to refer to God and His expectations and thoughts about their actions. Almost every verse refers to God, which reminds the audience that these aren't just his thoughts and words, but suggests that they have a much greater responsibility to the author of his speech. It is hard to tell people that they need to step it up, but Jacob does a great job by repeatedly reminding the people why they need to keep the commandments. He uses this parallel structure to set up a comparison by saying that it weighs him down that he has to speak of these things, he has given them this law, and it grieves him that they aren't keeping the commandments. These statements are immediately followed by referring back to God. HE is weighed down when he has to do this over and over again, HE is really the one that gave the law, and HE is grieved when the people don't keep the commandments. Jacob is saying that if they care at all about what he thinks, there should be a much higher degree of loyalty to God.
Jacob states his purpose in coming to the people. It has been said that the purpose of the gospel is to "comfort the afflicted, and to afflict the comfortable." Jacob let's these people know that what he's about to say is more like the second half of that quote. Using enantiosis and metaphor, Jacob states that his purpose is to "enlarge the wounds" instead of proclaiming the "pleasing word of God, yea, the word which health the wounded soul." He explicitly states that his purpose is to indict, to exhort, blame, and call the people to repentance.
In verses 12 and 13, Jacob starts talking about how blessed they were to receive riches, and says that some of them have started seeking out riches. At the beginning it sounds like a positive thing, but Jacob uses anesis to turn it around and help them open their eyes to their own faults. He spells out the reasoning for them to help them see where they went wrong. Immediately following, Jacob uses syllogismus by asking "do you suppose that God justifieth you in these things?"
The parallelism in verses 14 and 15 are obvious yet powerful. The repetition of "O that" illustrates the ethos that Jacob speaks with. The first two refer to God, "Oh that He..." and the last places the responsibility and duty back on the people, "Oh that ye..." Jacob uses this as an apagoresis, dissuading them from continuing in sin because the result doesn't sound very fun, "this pride of your hearts destroy your souls!"
Jacob uses many persuasive methods to produce a change of heart in the people throughout the rest of the chapters. Antithesis is used when he looks back to their father Lehi and the examples that the Nephites versus the Lamanites gave to them. Exergasia is used as Jacob drives home the specific points in different ways. He finishes strong by exhorting the people and, again, showing his support.