Friday, July 30, 2010

Without Mixture

"Thou shalt not wear a garment of divers sorts, as of woolen and linen together," Deuteronomy 22:11.

"As Christ was preached under types and figure through the whole Law, we may reasonably suppose that not a single command was then given but what had an eye to Him and His great salvation. But if we find the LORD so strict respecting the outward dress of the body, what may we conclude the LORD would enjoin respecting the inward clothing of the soul? If woolen and linen were offensive to be worn together, surely, we cannot appear before God in the motley dress of Jesus' righteousness and our own. The fine linen, scripture saith, is the righteousness of saints. With this, which Jesus puts on His people, nothing of our own woolen garments must be worn. The righteousness of a creature, had we any, which in fact we have none, cannot be suited to mix with the righteousness of the Creator."
-- Robert Hawker in Shreveport Grace Church Bulletin, July 4, 2010

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Four seeds

Ye sons of earth prepare the plough,
Break up your fallow ground!
The Sower is gone forth to sow,
And scatter blessings round.

The seed that finds a stony soil
Shoots forth a hasty blade;
But ill repays the sower's toil,
Soon withered, scorched, and dead.

The thorny ground is sure to balk
All hopes of harvest there;
We find a tall and sickly stalk,
But not the fruitful ear.

The beaten path and highway side
Receive the trust in vain;
The watchful birds the spoil divide,
And pick up all the grain.

But where the Lord of grace and power
Has blessed the happy field,
How plenteous is the golden store
The deep wrought furrows yield!

Father of mercies, we have need
Of Thy preparing grace;
Let the same hand that gives me seed
Provide a fruitful place!

William Cowper (1731-1800)
Olney Hymns, 1779

Friday, July 23, 2010

Most common error in the English language

According to 10 Common Errors "Spell Check" Won’t Catch, "...confusing 'its' and 'it’s' is the most common error in the English language." Other errors discussed are:

Your versus You’re
Affect versus Effect
Through versus Threw
Their versus There versus They’re
Farther versus Further

Thursday, July 22, 2010

New wine

Is anybody out there? Have I bored you all to death with the figures of speech series of posts? OK, here is a related post, but hopefully one that will awaken you.

Debating on the subject of wine/alcohol/abstinence/moderation, a brother used Isaiah 65:8 as a proof text that new wine is non-alcoholic. Is that so?

Isaiah 65:8 Thus saith the LORD, As the new wine is found in the cluster, and one saith, Destroy it not; for a blessing is in it: so will I do for my servants' sakes, that I may not destroy them all.

Seems to me this is a figure of speech. If we want to be literal, there are grapes in the cluster not a bunch of juice hanging there. What figure of speech is this? One of the twenty? Something else?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Figures of Speech 5

17. Pun -- A play on words, sometimes on different senses of the same word and sometimes on the similar sense or sound of different words.
Like some other figures of speech, puns in an original language usually do not translate well into the receiver language. One that is noticable in Greek and English is found in Philippians 3:2-3: Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision [katatome, to cut up, mutilate]. For we are the circumcision [peritome], which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.

According to David Peters the Hebrew of Judges 10:4 has one, which he illustrates thusly: His thirty sons rode around on thirty burros [´ayirim] and lived in thirty boroughs [´ayarim] in Gilead.

18. Simile -- A stated comparison (usually formed with "like" or "as") between two fundamentally dissimilar things that have certain qualities in common.
II Peter 3:8 day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
Song of Solomon 1:14 My beloved is unto me as a cluster of camphire in the vineyards of Engedi.
Song of Solomon 4:3 Thy lips are like a thread of scarlet, and thy speech is comely: thy temples are like a piece of a pomegranate within thy locks.

19. Synecdoche -- A figure of speech is which a part is used to represent the whole, the whole for a part, the specific for the general, the general for the specific, or the material for the thing made from it.
Examples: John 3:16 -- world stands for people; Matthew 10:38 -- cross stands for self-sacrifice.

According to some the distinction between metonymy and synecdoche "is that in metonymy, the exchange is made between two related nouns; in synecdoche, the exchange is made between two related ideas."

20. Understatement -- A figure of speech in which a writer or a speaker deliberately makes a situation seem less important or serious than it is.
Perhaps Ruth 2:3 And she went, and came, and gleaned in the field after the reapers: and her hap was to light on a part of the field belonging unto Boaz, who was of the kindred of Elimelech. It reads as if this is merely a fortuitous circumstance, but it draws our focus to the providence of it.

The Top 20 Figures of Speech (17-20)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Figures of Speech 4

13. Onomatopoeia -- The formation or use of words that imitate the sounds associated with the objects or actions they refer to.
Alter and Kermode, in
The Literary Guide to the Bible, find onomatopoeia in the Hebrew of Isaiah 5:24 and 24:19-20. I am not qualified to know whether this is correct, but pass it on to you who may.

14. Oxymoron -- A figure of speech in which incongruous or contradictory terms appear side by side.
Isaiah 58:10, "...thy darkness [shall] be as the noonday:"

15. Paradox -- A statement that appears to contradict itself.
Matthew 13:12, "...whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath."
Matthew 20:16, "So the last shall be first, and the first last:"
I'm thinking that those with a high view of inspiration might tend to find more paradoxes, while those with a low view might just pass them off as actual contradictions.

16. Personification -- A figure of speech in which an inanimate object or abstraction is endowed with human qualities or abilities.
1 Corinthians 12:15-16, "If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?"

The Top 20 Figures of Speech (13-16)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Figures of Speech 3

9. Irony -- The use of words to convey the opposite of their literal meaning. A statement or situation where the meaning is contradicted by the appearance or presentation of the idea.
Job 12:2, "No doubt but ye are the people, and wisdom shall die with you." I really like Job's assessment of his friends' comments. Many of us might call this sarcasm rather than irony. Irony is is usually "more subtle" than sarcasm, and I'm not sure just where the line is. Job doesn't seem real subtle.

10. Litotes -- A figure of speech consisting of an understatement in which an affirmative is expressed by negating its opposite.
Act 19:23 And the same time there arose
no small stir about that way.
Saying there was "no small stir" means there was a big one. I really like the use of this kind of figure of speech.

11. Metaphor -- An implied comparison between two unlike things that actually have something important in common.
Song of Solomon 2:1 I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys.
Song of Solomon 4:12 A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed.

12. Metonymy -- A figure of speech in which one word or phrase is substituted for another with which it is closely associated; also, the rhetorical strategy of describing something indirectly by referring to things around it.
Proverbs 10:20, "The tongue of the righteous is choice silver." Here, the tongue, closely associated with speaking, represents words or speech.

The Top 20 Figures of Speech (9-12)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Figures of Speech 2

5. Assonance -- Identity or similarity in sound between internal vowels in neighboring words.
Usually in the original but not observable in English. In Hebrew, Exodus 15:12-13
natita, nahita, neihalta. I Timothy 3:16 does something similar in Greek, with the first word in each line having the same ending sound -- ephanerothe, edikaiothe, ophthe, ekeruchthe, episteuthe, anelephthe -- but that is probably more like rhyme.

About.grammar gives the old Hoover vacuum cleaner slogan -- "It beats as it sweeps as it cleans" -- as an English (non-biblical) example of assonance.

6. Chiasmus -- A verbal pattern in which the second half of an expression is balanced against the first but with the parts reversed.
Amos chapter 5, parts of verses 4 & 5 arranged to make it more visual:

Seek ye me, and ye shall live:
But seek not Bethel,
nor enter into Gilgal,
and pass not to Beersheba:
for Gilgal shall surely go into captivity,
and Bethel shall come to nought.
Seek the LORD, and ye shall live

7. Euphemism -- The substitution of an inoffensive term for one considered offensively explicit.
The use of sleep for death in John 11:11 is usually considered a euphemism:
These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. Genesis 4:1 tells us "And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived...", a point we well understand without a more explicit term.

8. Hyperbole -- An extravagant statement; the use of exaggerated terms for the purpose of emphasis or heightened effect.
Here I am fearful of saying the Bible makes exaggerated statements. Liberalists with loose views on inspiration tend to find lots of hyperbole in the Bible. If you don't accept the Bible as the Word of God anyway, you are likely to find anything miraculous or unusual to be hyperbole. Literalists and those with a high view of inspiration probably won't find much hyperbole (maybe even miss it if it is really there?).

Perhaps Matthew 5:29 could qualify as an example of hyperbole:
And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee. Most people don't think Jesus want them literally tearing their eyes out.

The Top 20 Figures of Speech (5-8)

Friday, July 16, 2010

Figures of Speech 1

I mentioned yesterday that I think we can often miss or misinterpret the figures of speech in the Bible. Over several days, Lord willing, I am going to post The Top 20 Figures of Speech from about.grammar. Today is 1 through 4 (in alphabetical order) from their list. Please interact with these series of posts. Present uses of the different kinds of figures of speech in the Bible. Point out where missing the figure of speech sets one up for misinterpretation. Agree or disagree with my examples. Here goes.

1. Alliteration -- Repetition of an initial consonant sound.
Probably the best illustration of alliteration found in the Bible is Psalm 119. This alliteration cannot be seen in our English Bibles, though. This points up that this kind of figure of speech, at least, does not translate well. Psalm 119 is a song composed of 176 verses divided into 22 sections. Each of these 22 sections contains verses that correspond to the Hebrew alphabet. So the first section always starts with Aleph, the second Beth, and so forth through the Hebrew alphabet. Jeremiah uses a kindred structure in Lamentations chapter 3.

There is use of alliteration in the Greek of Hebrews 1:1. I transliterate it here:
polumeros kai polutropos palai ho theos lalesas tois patrasin en tois prophetais

(Lots of "p" sound.) Literal translations focus on maintaining the integrity of the meaning, so this type of figure is seldom seen outside the original autographs. The International Standard Version worked toward it a bit in Heb. 1:1, giving "God, having spoken in former times in fragmentary and varied fashion to our forefathers by the prophets,"

2. Anaphora -- Repetition of the same word or phrase at the beginning of successive clauses or verses.
Matthew 5:3-11 and Isaiah 14:13-14 are examples of this.
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth...

For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.

(I think I have heard this style a good bit in preaching.)

3. Antithesis -- The juxtaposition of contrasting ideas in balanced phrases.
I believe Romans 5:15 can be considered an example of this.
But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.

Compare also Isaiah 59:9 as an example.

4. Apostrophe -- Breaking off discourse to address some absent person or thing, some abstract quality, an inanimate object, or a nonexistent character.
In Matthew 23, Jesus speaks to the crowd of scribes and Pharisees, then breaks off to address Jerusalem in verse 37.
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!

I believe these are some legitimate examples of these figures of speech. I am not sure that missing the figure in these cases are as integral to missing the meaning as some other figures of speech.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Systematic Theology again

Being a country boy, every once in awhile I like to run a stick up in a hole and see what comes crawling out. So with Systematic Theology. I usually can poke some of you out with this one, and y'all ain't been very active for awhile. So here goes.

It is clear to me that God wrote the Bible and that men write systematic theologies. The Bible is a harmonious whole provided to man by God. It is often not the harmonious whole in the preconceived way we think it is. Too many times we study half of what the Bible says about something, form our opinions, and then toss out the other half of what the Bible says about that subject. In effect, we form a systematic grid that we place over the word of God and dispose of whatever doesn't fit that grid. It is too often that we don't realize that it is the word of God that needs to be placed over the grid. If the grid isn't fitting the Word, toss IT.

"We must recognize that God and the Scriptures rule over our theology and not the other way around." -- John Stevenson

Those of you who know me know that I am quite the biblical literalist. When James says the elders were to anoint with oil, I believe the elders were literally anointing with literal oil. When Paul discusses a head covering in I Corithians 11, I believe he really meant what he said.

But it is a problem that we often misinterpret the Bible because we do not recognize that it uses figures of speech. When we try to literalize what is not literal, we run into nonsense.

From this post, I want to launch over the next few days a highlighting of the most common figures of speech in the English language and look at how or whether these are used in our Bible. Come back tomorrow. Similar time, same place.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

A sad thought

One day this past week I thought about the comment we patriotic Americans sometimes make: "The United States is the greatest nation in the world."

With this in my mind, the thought struck me, "God help the world."

Friday, July 09, 2010

A $50 Lesson.....

Copied from an e-mail

"I recently asked my friends' little girl what she wanted to be when she grows up.

"She said she wanted to be President some day. Both of her parents, liberal Democrats, were standing there smiling.

"So I asked her, 'If you were President what would be the first thing you would do?'

"She replied, 'I'd give food and houses to all the poor homeless people.'

"Her parents beamed with pride.

"'Wow...what a worthy goal.' I told her, 'But you don't have to wait until you're President to do that. You can come over to my house and mow the lawn, pull weeds, and sweep up my yard, and I'll pay you $50. Then I'll take you over to the grocery store near where the homeless guys hang out, and you can give one the $50 to use toward food and a new house.'

"She thought that over for a few moments, then she looked me straight in the eye and asked, 'Why doesn't the homeless guy just come over and do the work, and then you can just pay him the $50?'

"I said, 'Welcome to the Republican Party.'

"Her parents still aren't speaking to me."


[Note: I don't think she'd fit in the current Republican Party either.]

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Read and heard

Read today:
Sacred Harp is a style of singing that is more often "caught" than "taught".

Heard the other day:
What we think is a coincidence is really a God-incidence.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

The storm hushed

The storm hushed.

'Tis past--the dreadful stormy night
Is gone, with all its fears!
And now I see returning light,
The Lord, my Sun, appears.

The tempter, who but lately said,
I soon shall be his prey;
Has heard my Savior's voice and fled
With shame and grief away.

Ah, LORD, since thou didst hide thy face,
What has my soul endured?
But now 'tis past, I feel thy grace,
And all my wounds are cured!

O wondrous change! but just before
Despair beset me round;
I heard the lion's horrid roar,
And trembled at the sound.

Before corruption, guilt and fear,
My comfort blasted fell;
And unbelief discovered near
The dreadful depths of hell.

But JESUS pitied my distress,
He heard my feeble cry;
Revealed his blood and righteousness,
And brought salvation nigh.

Beneath the banner of his love,
I now secure remain;
The tempter frets, but dares not move
To break my peace again.

LORD, since thou thus hast broke my bands,
And set the captive free;
I would devote my tongue, my hands,
My heart, my all to thee.

John Newton (1725-1807)
Olney Hymns, 1779

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Expository preaching

Awhile back I quoted Mike McInnis writing, "The whole concept of 'preaching' as necessarily involving taking a particular text and then developing it for a half hour or more is more a learned activity than one which is directed by NT example." Several of you disagreed with Mike and me, though not strenuously.

Now here is a quote in the opposite direction from Noah Lee: "It is my conviction that all sermons should be expository sermons in order to be faithful to the Word of God. When a preacher chooses to preach on a topic or a theme, he runs the risk of injecting his personal opinions or agendas into the sermon and neglecting the main idea of the Biblical text. Every expository sermon follows the same format: the text is read, the text is explained, and the text is applied."

I generally agree with Brother McInnis. I specifically deny that "all sermons should be expository sermons in order to be faithful to the Word of God." What do you think, readers? Should all sermons be expository sermons? If so, based on what reasoning? If not, why not?

[Note: Bro. Lee explains expository preaching as "the method of studying a particular passage of Scripture, discovering the main point or big idea of that passage, explaining that point to the church and making points of application from that passage's big idea."]

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Old Shiloh

Attended the Old Shiloh Cemetery picnic today. I think it is one of the few East Texas homecomings we still call a picnic.

The Old Shiloh Cemetery is one of the oldest cemeteries in Rusk County, and a very large country cemetery. The first recorded burial is 1853. The picnic is only a shadow of its former days. Once there were two churches at Shiloh and two singings -- one "little book" and one Sacred Harp. By the time I came along, the old church (org. circa 1843) and the Sacred Harp Singing had died out, and there was only the little-book singing in the Southern Baptist Church (org. 1902). It was a big deal in the days of my youth. It was probably the largest picnic gathering/singing in the area. In addition to singers and those who had family in the cemetery, it was big draw for politicians and singing groups. The church house was always full and overflowing. Today perhaps a third the building was filled. The singing crowd was bigger than the last time I attended. The overall crowd was much smaller.

Tradition has it that the picnic as we know began in 1867 when my great-grandfather's sister, Susan E. Vaughn Pierce (wife of Wylie Matthew Pierce), and others met for a picnic and cemetery cleaning day.

The cemetery is located just east of Hwy. 315, about 6 miles northeast of Mt. Enterprise, Texas.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Inalienable rights

Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma asks Elena Kagan whether she believes there are inalienable rights. She said, "I don't have a view of what are natural rights independent of the Constitution." Seems like a lot of intellectual dishonesty there.

Is this important? I believe it is. The United States is founded, at least partially, on the idea of our Constitution preserving pre-existing rights. Some people believe we only have the rights granted by the Constitution and they can be taken away at any time.