Original Research

The fruits of a text-generated persuasion-interpretation of 1 Corinthians 12:31b–13:3

Elizabeth M. Cornelius, Tsholofelo J. Kukuni
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 58, No 1 | a3078 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v58i1.3078 | © 2024 Elizabeth M. Cornelius, Tsholofelo J. Kukuni | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 18 March 2024 | Published: 06 June 2024

About the author(s)

Elizabeth M. Cornelius, School of Ancient Languages and Text Studies, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, Potchefstroom, North West, South Africa
Tsholofelo J. Kukuni, School of Ancient Languages and Text Studies, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, Potchefstroom, North West, South Africa


This article interprets the persuasion of Paul’s communication to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 12:31b–13:3 from a text-generated persuasion-interpretation (TGPI) rhetorical perspective. Text-generated persuasion-interpretation is not based on ancient Greco-Roman rhetoric and differs from ancient rhetorical analyses. Ancient Greco-Roman rhetorical analyses reimpose rhetorical categories on the text, analysing it within the confines of those rhetorical categories that merely mention rhetorical stylistic devices and techniques that the author uses to persuade the audience. Instead, this rhetorical approach is done by reconstructing the rhetorical strategy from the text itself, in other words, how Paul used rhetorical arguments and rhetorical techniques when persuading the Corinthians to pursue unity and order, by eulogising the excellencies of love. Paul’s persuasive strategy from 1 Corinthians 12:31b–13:3 was constructed and analysed. The descriptive analysis of the author’s persuasive intent was constructed from the text itself, proving that the means the author uses to persuade the readers can be based on the text alone. The author’s dominant rhetorical strategy was defined from the text, by determining his primary rhetorical objective in the particular section. This article showed that Paul employed various rhetorical devices to enhance his persuasion. The first is the argument based on disillusionment. The second are rhetorical techniques such as explicit contrasting, conspicuous words and metaphors, binary, hyperbole, parallelism, repetition, rhythm, and antithesis to persuade the Corinthians to desire ‘the far more supreme way’ as the exclusive stimulus for practising spiritual gifts.

Contribution: This article offers something new in the sense that the rhetorical method of interpretation, called a text-generated persuasion-interpretation, is applied to 1 Corinthians 12:31b–13:3 for the first time. With a renewed interest in rhetorical interpretation of the texts, this methodology allows for its improvement with further research, as it has the potential to incorporate multidisciplinary approaches to the text. Furthermore, this article demonstrates that the dominant rhetorical objective of the text and the persuasion of the author can be derived from the text without relying on ancient rhetoric. Finally, the article shows that new rhetorical insights, such as new rhetorical techniques used to enhance the author’s persuasion, can still be discovered, as they have been discovered in this study.


persuasion; text-generated persuasion-interpretation; rhetorical analysis; rhetorical categories; rhetorical stylistic devices and techniques; love; 1 Corinthians 13.

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 4: Quality education


Total abstract views: 293
Total article views: 221

Crossref Citations

No related citations found.