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Radical Confessional Rhetoric from Schleitheim to Dordrecht

C. Henry Smith Series 6

Gerald Biesecker-Mast

Foreword by John D. Roth

Summary: Through rhetorical criticism of Anabaptist confessional argument during the Reformation era, the book describes the relationship between separation and peace articulated by Anabaptist leaders and writers in the decades following the adoption of the Schleitheim Brotherly Union in 1527. By exploring this rhetoric of peaceable Anabaptist persuasion, the book provides resources for all nonconformists who seek to make peace through spiritual practice and public argument. Includes extensive notes, bibliography, and index.

Comment: "The author deftly applies a postmodern rhetorical analysis to illumine how early Anabaptists eloquently and strategically articulated the struggle for both separation and toleration to support a radical Christian posture.”
—Susan Schultz Huxman, Mennonite Education Agency, Board of Directors, Director, Elliott School of Communication, Wichita State University

“To the fascinating history and theology of the Anabaptist tradition, Biesecker-Mast brings new tools of rhetorical analysis and postmodern theory. The result is a rich study that shows how evocatively Reformation debates resonate for contemporary political and religious life.”
—John Durham Peters, F. Wendell Miller Distinguished Professor, Communication Studies, University of Iowa.

“How can Christians accept an ordering role for government while opposing the abuses of state violence? Biesecker-Mast analyzes this tension in early Anabaptist rhetoric and practice. His book is especially timely for Christians seeking to offer a faithful witness to God’s reign in a post-9/11 world.
—J. Daryl Byler, Director, Mennonite Central Committee Washington Office

“Anyone interested in Anabaptist perspectives on peace will appreciate Biesecker-Mast’s ability to recognize in Anabaptist confessional texts what has been neglected by conventional wisdom.”
—Karl Koop,Associate Professor of History and Theology, Canadian Mennonite University

“This book is a delight to read and a first-rate example of what contemporary scholarship on Anabaptists can accomplish. Highly recommended.” —Thomas Heilke, Associate Dean of International Programs, Professor, Political Science, University of Kansas

Separation and the Sword in Anabaptist Persuasion inaugurates a new epoch in Anabaptist studies. For one thing, it brings a new discipline—that of rhetorical analysis—to the study of Anabaptist texts. Rather than seeing texts as static entities of distilled truth, rhetorical analysis treats texts as living statements that function as strategic assertions in a context whose contours are not fixed. A series of significant results follow from the application of this discipline new to Anabaptist texts."
—J. Denny Weaver, in the Series Editor's Foreword

Market: Scholars, historians, pastors, church leaders; anyone interested in an insightful study, through the prisms of rhetorical and historical analysis—into the writings of early Anabaptists and what can be learned from them considering Anabaptist separation and engagement.

Shelving: Anabaptists—history, doctrine; History—of Reformation and sixteenth-century Europe; Nonresistance, Pacifism; Rhetoric and Society. BISAC: History, Religion. RTM: 431 History/World; 690 Religion/Ethics.

The Author: Gerald Biesecker-Mast, Bluffton, Ohio, is Associate Professor of Communication at Bluffton University and the author of numerous published essays dealing with religion and persuasion. He is co-editor with Susan Biesecker-Mast of Anabaptists and Postmodernity (2000), and with J. Denny Weaver of Teaching Peace: Nonviolence and the Liberal Arts (2003). Biesecker-Mast is a graduate of Malone College, Canton, Ohio, and received his Ph.D. in rhetoric and communication from the University of Pittsburgh in 1995.

Publisher: Cascadia Publishing House (the new name of Pandora Press U.S.)
Tentative copublisher: Herald Press, Scottdale, PA
Tentative Publication date: January 15, 2006 (copies available now)
Approximate Pages: 312
Format: 6 x 9 trade paper
Prices: $22.95 US, $35.95 Can.
ISBN: 1-931038-34-1

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