Configuring Nicodemus: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Complex Characterization
Whitenton, Michael R.
London: Bloomsbury, 2019 pp. xii + 170. $114.00
Library of New Testament Studies, 549
Description: Michael Whitenton offers a fresh perspective on the characterization of Nicodemus, focusing on the benefit of Hellenistic rhetoric and the cognitive sciences for understanding audience construals of characters in ancient narratives.
Whitenton builds an interdisciplinary approach to ancient characters, utilizing cognitive science, Greek stock characters, ancient rhetoric, and modern literary theory. He then turns his attention to the characterization of Nicodemus, where he argues that Nicodemus would likely be understood initially as a dissembling character, only to depart from that characterization later in the narrative, suggesting a journey toward Johannine faith. Whitenton presents a compelling argument: many in an ancient audience would construe Nicodemus in ways that suggest his development from doubt and suspicion to commitment and devotion.
Subjects: Bible, New Testament, Johannine Literature, John, Literature, Methods, Literary Approaches, Rhetorical Criticism, Narrative Criticism, Social-Scientific Approaches, Psychology
Review by Mark A. Matson
Citation: Mark A. Matson, review of Michael R. Whitenton, Configuring Nicodemus: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Complex Characterization, Review of Biblical Literature [http://www.bookreviews.org] (2020).
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