Orality as the Key to Understanding Apostolic Proclamation in the Epistles

Orality as the Key to Understanding Apostolic Proclamation in the Epistles

Dissertation by Thomas M. Winger


How then shall they call upon the One in whom they have not believed?
And how shall they believe in the One whom they have not heard?
And how shall they hear apart from a preacher?
And how shall they preach if they are not sent?
Just as it stands written: “How beautiful are the feet of those preaching a Gospel of good things.”
However, not all heeded the Gospel.
For Isaiah says: “Lord, who believed what we put forth to be heard?”
For faith is from hearing, and hearing through the message of Christ.
(Rom. 10:14-17)

St. Paul, it is generally acknowledged, was schooled in the finest rhetorical tradition of the Graeco-Roman world. As a student of Gamaliel, he also inherited a rich rabbinic legacy of immersion in the Word of God. His writing unfolds according to the ways which were put into him. In the same way, the modern reader escapes his own schooling only with great difficulty. St. Paul’s manner is utterly foreign to us. How often is this grand sequence from Romans chapter ten scanned silently in the privy confines of the parlor or study, the eye alone with the ink, the rustle of onionskin the only whisper to intrude upon the moment?

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