Paul and sophistic rhetoric: a perspective on his argumentation in the Letter to the Galations


  • J. S. de Vos University of the Free State


In this article Paul’s argumentation is analysed from the perspective of sophistic rhetoric. In the first section the question is discussed what it means to label Paul’s rhetoric in his Letter to the Galatians ‘sophistic.’ To that end, an attempt is made to reconstruct the view of a contemporary critical reader who did not share Paul’s presuppositions and who was well acquainted with the discussions in the philosophical and rhetorical schools about acceptable and non-acceptable rhetorical methods. This approach is compared with other approaches to analysing Paul’s argumentation. The second section investigates more closely what it means when ‘sophistic rhetoric’ is used as a key to analyse Paul’s theology. To that end, some models which start from a ‘Platonic’ view of rhetoric are compared with a model which combines a ‘(neo-)sophistic’ or constructionist view with a ‘rhetoric of power.’


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