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Grant number: FT-254971-17

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K. Martin Camper
Loyola University Maryland (Baltimore, MD 21210-2601)

The Role of Rhetoric and Argumentation in Doctrinal Shifts since the Reformation

Completion of a book on the rhetorical strategies employed in religious debates from the Reformation to the present.

Since the 16th century, various segments of the Christian church have reversed their official stances on a number of biblical issues, including usury, heliocentricity, racial equality, women’s preaching, and homosexuality. In each case, the Bible was interpreted as first supporting one position and then the opposite one. While scholars have explored the social, cultural, political, theological, and economic motivations for these reversals, less well understood is how these changes in biblical meaning were accomplished through argument. This project examines the dynamic, dialogic, rhetorical nature of these five ecclesiastic debates and charts the argumentative steps that led to changes in official denominational positions. This analysis will yield patterns in how the church’s biblically grounded positions have changed through argument, and these patterns will help scholars of religious and non-religious texts better understand the nature of other past and contemporary textual disputes.

Project fields:
Composition and Rhetoric; History of Religion

Summer Stipends

Research Programs

Total amounts:
$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
6/1/2017 – 7/31/2017