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The Interface between Discourse Analysis and Rhetorical Analysis

An Application to the Narratives of Luke


In this study, I would like to explore the possibilities for interaction between rhetorical analysis and discourse analysis, and the mutual benefits that such interaction between the disciplines might bring. It will be useful to begin by outlining the principal features of discourse analysis as a branch of linguistic science, before going on to look at some specific aspects as they apply to Hellenistic Greek, the language of the New Testament.

Discourse analysis is an approach to the functioning of languages that is as rigorous and as objective as traditional grammar. It emerged in several countries as a distinct approach in the 1960s and 1970s, drawing on insights of earlier linguistic studies. It is important to note that, despite some shared concerns, it is not a method of literary criticism, nor is it one possible, optional approach to a text among others that will eventually go out of fashion as it is replaced by another new discovery.

From a theoretical point of view, there is a variety of different schools and methods among discourse analysts, which sometimes focus more specifically on one aspect more than others. I propose here to avoid the theoretical discussions, which can be as complex and abstract as in any other branch of linguistics, in order to show the practical consequences of the approach. There are in any case certain interests and features that characterize all schools of discourse analysis. They all share the same essential perspective, and are based on the notion that:

les énoncés ne se présentent pas comme des phrases ou des suites de phrases mais comme des textes. Or un texte est un mode d’organisation spécifique qu’il faut étudier comme tel en le rapportant aux conditions dans lesquelles il est produit. Considérer la structure d’un texte en le rapportant à ses conditions de production, c’est l’envisager comme discours1.

1 M. GRAWITZ, Méthode des Sciences Sociales IV, Paris 1976, 200011, 345.


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