Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

B. F. McClerren


I. The Nature and Purpose of the Study. The hypothesis of this study was that the nature of the rhetorical training currently offered by major Protestant denominations could be discovered by analyzing the homiletic texts used by those denominations in their respective homiletics courses. It was the purpose of this study, through analyzing the homilectics textbooks used, to answer two questions: (1) What rhetorical canons are being included, or excluded from, the basic homiletics courses of the Baptists, Methodists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, and Episcopalians? and (2) What differences and similarities, if any, exist in the homiletics courses of the Baptists, Methodists, Lutherans, Presbyterians and Episcopalians?

II. The Evaluative Tool. An outline of the canons of rhetoric according to Aristotle, Cicero, and Quintilian was invented. The outline consisted of the five canons and their component parts. The canons identified were invention, arrangement, style, delivery, and memory. The component parts of invention were: discovery of topics, discovery of ideas, and discovery of the modes of persuasion. The component parts of arrangement were: divisions of the speech, and relationship of ideas. The component parts of style were: the types of style, and stylistic devices. The component parts of delivery were: body and voice. The component parts of memory were: mnemonics and extemporaneous delivery. The content of the homiletics textbooks used by each denomination was analyzed with the classical canon outline. That analysis provided answers to the questions asked.

Ill. Conclusions. Based upon the canon outlines of the texts used by each denomination, a summary statement of rhetorical inclusions and exclusions was made. Next, a summary statement of the similarities and differences of the rhetorical training of the denominations was made.

Based upon the summary statements the following conclusions were drawn:

  1. None of the denominations are teaching all component parts of all of the classical canons.
  2. Some of the denominations are teaching all aspects of at least one canon.
  3. Some denominations are teaching part of a canon or parts of several canons.
  4. Some of the content taught is classical although the terminology differs from traditional rhetorical terminology.
  5. All writers of the homiletics textbooks studied seemed to be unaware of the classical canons. References to classical concepts seemed to be more accidental than intentional.
  6. Compared to the classical canons of rhetoric, current homiletics training seems to be unorganized and/or lacks completeness.
  7. Most of the textbooks used in the homiletics courses were recently published. Perhaps the older homiletics textbooks would do a better job of presenting the classical canons.