Bearing Witness: The Rhetoric of Influence

Anyone who has read the Gospels will know that Jesus understood the power of rhetoric.  Yet, Christ’s rhetoric (unlike its Greek counterpart) contributes little to the art of formal persuasion.  Jesus spoke often in riddles, parables, and imponderables that re-arranged the human soul, and he spoke with a ‘sword’ that put the ultimate question to all of our artful dodging.  To put it another way, Jesus did not try to win any cultural or religious debates, prop up any regimes, nor, according to the same logic, did he try to ‘win’ any souls over to a purely ideological commitment.  The focal point of his many one-to-one conversations with other people seems to have been the persons themselves; nothing ever interfered with that salient reality when Jesus testified of the Truth.  Jesus both attracted and repelled people not because he won arguments, but because he illumined dark hearts.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at