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)

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