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Dinkler, Michal Beth

Silent Statements

Narrative Representations of Speech and Silence in the Gospel of Luke

Series:Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft 191

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    Publication Date:
    October 2013
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    Aims and Scope

    Even a brief comparison with its canonical counterparts demonstrates that the Gospel of Luke is preoccupied with the power of spoken words; still, words alone do not make a language. Just as music without silence collapses into cacophony, so speech without silence signifies nothing: silences are the invisible, inaudible cement that hold the entire edifice together. Though scholars across diverse disciplines have analyzed silence in terms of its contexts, sources, and functions, these insights have barely begun to make inroads in biblical studies. Utilizing conceptual tools from narratology and reader-response criticism, this study is an initial exploration of largely uncharted territory – the various ways that narrative intersections of speech and silences function together rhetorically in Luke’s Gospel. Considering speech and silence to be mutually constituted in intricate and inextricable ways, Dinkler demonstrates that attention to both characters’ silences and the narrator’s silences helps to illuminate plot, characterization, theme, and readerly experience in Luke’s Gospel. Focusing on both speech and silence reveals that the Lukan narrator seeks to shape readers into ideal witnesses who use speech and silence in particular ways; Luke can be read as an early Christian proclamation – not only of the gospel message – but also of the proper ways to use speech and silence in light of that message. Thus, we find that speech and silence are significant matters of concern within the Lukan story and that speech and silence are significant tools used in its telling.

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    xii, 261 pages
    Type of Publication:
    Gospel of Luke; silence; narrative, rhetoric

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    Michal Beth Dinkler, Yale Divinity School, New Haven, CT, USA.


    "I would not hesitate to recommend Silent Statements to anyone interested in Luke’s narrative artistry, rhetoric, or story."
    Scott S. Elliott in: Biblical Interpretation 24/2016

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