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Rhetorics of authority: Leviticus and the Analects compared


Barden, G; Weber, R (2010). Rhetorics of authority: Leviticus and the Analects compared. Asiatische Studien / Études Asiatiques, 64(1):173-240.

Abstract

The biblical text Leviticus and the Confucian Analects might appear as neither an obvious nor a very promising choice for a comparative philosophical exercise. To be sure, both texts now and then do share some similarity in matter. But such similarity in matter upon closer examination and contextualisation frequently turns out to be undermined by overt differences which call into
question the comparative effort. Our comparison therefore proceeds from a different angle and is
motivated by an asserted similarity in rhetoric, by which we mean to claim no more than that both
texts record situations in which someone speaks to someone else. Moreover, there is a dominant
speaker in each text, the Lord and the Master respectively, whose words seem to carry authority.
What kind of authority is concerned in each case it is the aim of this paper to investigate. We do so
by first giving an account of what philological and historical research tells us about these texts in
order to better understand the task and complexities with which translators were and still are grappling when bringing these texts into the English language. Our main concern then is with a philosophical investigation into the rhetorics of authority as it presents itself to us in standard and influential English translations of Leviticus and the Analects. In the end, we offer some salient comparisons of the two texts as they appear to each author of this article. This will allow the comparison to arise in the eyes of our readers, whose sight quite naturally will be different from ours.

Abstract

The biblical text Leviticus and the Confucian Analects might appear as neither an obvious nor a very promising choice for a comparative philosophical exercise. To be sure, both texts now and then do share some similarity in matter. But such similarity in matter upon closer examination and contextualisation frequently turns out to be undermined by overt differences which call into
question the comparative effort. Our comparison therefore proceeds from a different angle and is
motivated by an asserted similarity in rhetoric, by which we mean to claim no more than that both
texts record situations in which someone speaks to someone else. Moreover, there is a dominant
speaker in each text, the Lord and the Master respectively, whose words seem to carry authority.
What kind of authority is concerned in each case it is the aim of this paper to investigate. We do so
by first giving an account of what philological and historical research tells us about these texts in
order to better understand the task and complexities with which translators were and still are grappling when bringing these texts into the English language. Our main concern then is with a philosophical investigation into the rhetorics of authority as it presents itself to us in standard and influential English translations of Leviticus and the Analects. In the end, we offer some salient comparisons of the two texts as they appear to each author of this article. This will allow the comparison to arise in the eyes of our readers, whose sight quite naturally will be different from ours.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Philosophy
Journals > Asiatische Studien / Études Asiatiques > Archive > 64 (2010) > 1
08 University Research Priority Programs > Asia and Europe
Dewey Decimal Classification:950 History of Asia
180 Ancient, medieval & eastern philosophy
Language:English
Date:2010
Deposited On:26 May 2010 18:33
Last Modified:23 Nov 2016 08:39
Publisher:Schweizerische Asiengesellschaft / Verlag Peter Lang
ISSN:0004-4717

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