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Starting Before the Beginning: Precreation Discourse in Colossians

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AbstractThis essay identifies and examines the function of the language in the Letter to the Colossians that Sociorhetorical Interpretation calls “precreation rhetorolect.” This rhetorolect is a mode of discourse that indicates, counterintuitively, realities behind and prior to what is present. Consequently, it starts before the beginning by describing the protological existence and activity of God and his son. In Colossians this rhetorolect occurs in 1:15-18a, 1:19 and 2:9. Precreation language in these passages describes the protological intelligence and activity that leads to what is right and real in the present. It is employed to persuade audiences to maintain their focus on Christ, the correct person. No other supposed divine or eminent powers, whether cosmic or human, have the precreational existence, the preeminent position, or the divine power to do what the son/Christ does in rescuing, reconciling, and providing a foundation for people. The rhetorolect draws on aspects of its intertextural environment of ideas to convey meaning that shapes its audiences. The rhetorical power of the discourse is found not only in what the texts say, but in how they say it and in what they do to their audiences. This study of the precreation language in Colossians describes how the discourse is employed to make a case, an argument. The precreation language aims at a wisdom conclusion, that is, at correct, mature belief and behaviour.

Affiliations: 1: Booth University Colleg 447 Webb Place, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada R3B 2P2, Email:, URL:


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