This study uses a new paradigm to come to an understanding of the function and meaning of these chapters. It examines Paul's communicative strategy as a distinct rhetorical unit, through the lens of Aristotle's three constitutive methods of proof in any persuasive argumentation: ethos, pathos, and logos. Paul's use of these three proofs is a mirror image of the strategy of slander employed by the false apostles. Unlike most of the traditional historical-rhetorical analyses applied in Pauline studies (the model of Hans Dieter Betz), this model advances the exegesis of the text. Maintaining strict methodological control, it arrives at an exegetical understanding, first, by examining the literary theory of these three methods of proof in the Greco-Roman rhetorical tradition; then giving numerous examples of the use of these proofs from classical writers; and last applying this theory and practice to an understanding of Paul's persuasive vindication of his apostleship, his authority, and the form and content of his gospel. This paradigm can be used in the study of other Pauline letters and in other early Christian texts to understand the formal aspects of their writings to project cogency and achieve conviction.
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