The New Testament and Dialectical Methods

This last weekend our N.T. class delivered homilies based on New Testament passages. I’m drawing on parts of one of the other student’s homilies for what follows.

And when he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came up to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” Jesus answered them, “I also will ask you one question, and if you tell me the answer, then I also will tell you by what authority I do these things.The baptism of John, from where did it come? From heaven or from man?” And they discussed it among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From man,’ we are afraid of the crowd, for they all hold that John was a prophet.” So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things. (Matthew 21:23-17)

and take quick read of of the story of Jesus encounter with St. Photina Equal to the Apostles (who is known to the Western traditions as the Samaritan woman at the well) The passage is from John 8,  ESV here

Here’s the point. Look at the structure of the conversation between Jesus and the priests and elders. The elders when asked a question by Jesus when and discussed this among themselves and considered what answer is right or true but instead what would be the implications of their possible answers. Truth was not the consideration, but instead the rhetorical imperatives of trying to win the debate. Contrast with the conversation from John 8. St. Photina does not consider the ramifactions of her conclusions regarding the outcome of the encounter but instead looks only to the correctness of the statements being made.
Consider that comparison in the light of dialectic in the public square and for that matter in your own life, e.g., yourself. 

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