Sacred Texture of Socio-Rhetorical Criticism

Socio-rhetorical criticism is a comprehensive approach to biblical analysis considering multiple textures of a given text. The primary perspective of socio-rhetorical criticism is an approach that focuses on “values, convictions, and beliefs” of the text and world the text exists within. (Robbins, 1996, p. 1) The textures considered are inner texture, intertexture, social and cultural, ideological texture, and sacred texture. This approach promises “programmatic correlation of multiple textures of texts” (Robbins, 1996, p. 237), “systematic attention to individual textures, and resources for writing a new account of first-century Christianity.” (Watson, 1998, p.76)

An overarching texture considered by Robbins is the sacred texture. This is a look at the divine within a text and how the divine interacts with humanity. In an observation of a sacred texture analysis by Jacqueline Faulhaber on I Peter, it appears this is a texture to be analyzed in the context of the other four textures, rather than a stand-alone texture analysis. Robbins offers eight different categories to provide a “programmatic search for sacred aspects of a text” (Robbins, 1996, p. 120): deity, holy person, spirit being, divine history, human redemption, human commitment, religious community, and ethics.

To properly apply the sacred texture analysis, one must seek for elements of how the divine is coming into contact with humanity through the analysis of the other textures. It is through the strength of the other four textures and the deep understanding gained through proper socio-rhetorical criticism, that the sacred texture gains its strength. Robbins evens warns the common approach of using sacred texture solely in biblical analysis creates a “disembodiment of sacred texture from the realities of living in the world.” (Robbins, 1996, p. 130)



Faulhaber, J. (2007). The Role of Tribulation and Virtue in Creativity: A Sacred Texture Analysis of 1 Peter. Journal of Biblical Perspectives in Leadership, 1(2), 135–147.

Robbins, V. K. (1996a). Exploring the texture of texts: a guide to socio-rhetorical interpretation. Valley Forge, Pa: Trinity Press International.

Robbins, V. K. (1996b). The tapestry of early Christian discourse: rhetoric, society, and ideology. London ; New York: Routledge.

Watson, D. F. (1998). Mapping the Textures of New Testament Criticism : A Response to Socio-Rhetorical Criticism. Journal for the Study of the New Testament, (70), 71–77.


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