When quizzing my college students on rhetorical terms, I’ve sometimes resorted to providing a couple easy questions–a few answers they’ll easily recognize. This year, I included one I’ve used in the past with good success.
This quiz was matching. Students were to find an allusion–a reference to a biblical, literary, or historical person or event–in a listing of other examples of other devices. In his famous speech to the Virginia Assembly, Patrick Henry advised his listeners to “suffer not yourselves to be betrayed with a kiss.”
Henry used other biblical allusions, quoting the prophet Jeremiah, “Peace, peace when there is no peace,” accusing the colonists of not taking the British seriously, and Psalm 119–“I have one lamp by which my feet are guided.”
I didn’t expect the typical student to pick up on those allusions. But there has been one example of allusion that nearly all of them could answer; They knew that Judas had betrayed Jesus with a kiss.
Not so today.