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Review of Smith, The Rhetoric of Interruption

Review of Smith, The Rhetoric of Interruption

What follows is a brief review of Daniel Lynwood Smith, The Rhetoric of Interruption: Speech-making, Turn-taking, and Rule-breaking in Luke-Acts and Ancient Greek Narrative (BZNW 193; Berlin: De Gruyter, 2012).

This monograph is a revision of Smith’s doctoral work completed under David Aune at the University of Notre Dame. In it, Smith examines the occurrence of interrupted speech in ancient Greek narratives with a view to better understand its possible rhetorical value in Luke-Acts where it is used comparatively more often.

Since extant ancient writings on rhetoric do not have discussions of speech interruption, Smith turns to modern conversation analysis theory to help define and establish criteria to identify interruption.

…a speech or other discourse may be characterized as interrupted if there is evidence of a claim of interruption, that is, a claim that the speaker’s rights have been violated. Occasionally, the narrator will flag interruptions clearly (“he interrupted him”), or a character will make a claim (“neither is it fitting to interrupt”). Typically, though, this claim will consist of a closing formula that describes the violation, or involuntary completion, of a speaker’s turn by suggesting that the speaker was still speaking (or still being heard) at the time of interruption. (p. 23)

Smith finds both intentional interruptions of hearers (where narrative conflict is usually brought out) and external interruptions by narrated events (where narrative drama is heightened) present in ancient authors from Homer to Josephus. No author examined uses it more frequently than Luke, however, whose two narratives include eight interrupted discourses each.

Smith notes ways in which Luke’s use of interruption stands out and is used consistently in the Gospel and Acts, especially in regard to key themes of Christ’s resurrection/exaltation and salvation to the Gentiles.

…intentional interruptions underscored references to the resurrection and exaltation of Jesus Christ (Acts 4:41; 7:57; 26:24) and to the availability of salvation to the Gentiles (Luke 4:28; Acts 13:48; 22:22; 26:24). In essence, Luke uses interruption to highlight the proclamation of God’s saving action through Jesus Christ and the availability of this salvation to all. (p. 247)

Smith is to be commended for presenting a well-founded and convincing general thesis, collating helpful data from ancient sources (nicely presented in chart-form in the appendices), and filling a gap in Lukan scholarship.

With thanks to De Gruyter for making this volume available to me for review.

Commentaries on Luke (and Acts)

Commentaries on Luke (and Acts)

I was recently asked what commentaries I am finding most helpful as I research the Gospel of Luke. Briefly, in a not-so-particular order, here are a few thoughts on Luke (and  a couple on Acts): I. Howard Marshall on Luke (NIGTC) (1978), though its been around a while (!), nearly always hits the significant exegetical… Continue Reading

Chapter Review of Bock's A Theology of Luke and Acts

I decided to join in the blog tour fun at the Koinonia blog, specifically by offering a review of one chapter from Bock’s A Theology of Luke and Acts. Before I begin, let me thank Zondervan for the gratis copy, and assure you that my opinion here is not influenced by the publisher’s generosity. Also, while my… Continue Reading

From Jerusalem to Rome

Loveday Alexander in Acts in Its Ancient Literary Context (2005) says: The predominance of the Ionian mental map and the centrality of the sea for the voyages of Greek romance throw into relief the rather different geographical perspectives of Acts. Luke’s story really has two mental maps, one centred on Jerusalem and one on the… Continue Reading

Demetrius the Silversmith

About that time there occurred no small disturbance concerning the Way. For a man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Artemis, was bringing no little business to the crafstmen; these he gathered together with the workmen of similar trades , and said, “Men, you know that our prosperity depends upon this business.… Continue Reading

Apartment Living in First Century Rome

(Another Tuesday Time Travel to the Roman Empire…) When Paul finally arrived as a prisoner in Rome, Luke records that he was “allowed to stay by himself, with the soldier who was guarding him” (Acts 28:16). The lodging is described as some sort of ‘guest-housing’ (τὴν ξενίαν in Acts 18:23), the expenses of which Paul was… Continue Reading

What's a Prisoner to Do? …Ask the Apostle Paul

Another Tuesday Time Travel… (This post piggy-backs on the previous one.) The Apostle Paul was imprisoned on multiple occasions. During his Caesarean and Roman imprisonments, the New Testament suggests he had plenty of time to do… well… whatever he wanted. Time to kill… Recall that a prison often served as a holding place for those… Continue Reading