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Figures of Speech Used in the Bible An Outline

Job Sarcasm, is a satirical remark uttered with scorn or contempt; a taunt; a gibe; a cutting jest. The soldiers kneeled before Jesus mocking him, saying, "Hail, King of the Jews! Hyperbole, is a manifest and impressive exaggeration for the purpose of expressing the full force and increasing the vividness of the subject presented. Psalm Personification, is a figure that clothes inanimate objects with the attributes of things animate.

Paronomasia, is a play upon words, a figure in which a word is repeated with a variation in the sense.

Anthropomorphism, is a figure which ascribes human features or elements of the human form to God. Paradox, is a figure in which opposites are seemingly affirmed of one and the same subject. Parable, comes from the two Greek words, para, beside, and ballein, to throw; hence to throw or place beside.


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It is a story by which something real in life is used as a means of presenting a spiritual or moral thought. The simple definition, "An earthly story with a heavenly meaning", is excellent.

Figures of Speech Used in the Bible | MP Seminars

The word "parable" is used in a broad sense in the Bible often including other figures of speech. Jesus was a master of the parables. Nell R.

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Lightfoot in a fine work entitled The Parables of Jesus, lists forty-six parables Jesus taught. In Matthew , is a short parable on the value of the kingdom of heaven which is compared to a "pearl of great price. It really captures the importance of understanding cultural context when seeking to understand an idiom. Did you know that the Bible is full of idioms? In other words the Bible is full of sayings or expressions that cannot be understood in and of themselves because they have a separate meaning of their own.

In the book of Job chapter 19, verse 20 we can find a wonderful ancient Hebrew idiom preserved for us from the oldest book in the Bible. The phrase can only be understood as a figure of speech. A person cannot find its meaning via literal interpretation.

Figures of Speach in the Bible

In order to find the literal meaning of a figure of speech you need to unpack the figurative non-literal meaning of the language being used. First: There are figures of speech that leave out the meaning or important words. These figures of speech affect grammar or sentence structure. We know John had to eat and drink but this is pointing out that John turned down invitations to have meals with others. A figure of speech occurs when a word, phrase, or sentence is employed in a sense other than the usual or literal sense it has normally.

When a word is used in its primitive or most usual sense, it is said to be literal.


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The purpose behind the use of a figurative expression is to intensify the idea being conveyed. The figure adds force, feeling, and color to the thought presented. It is a mistake to assume that when a figure of speech is utilized, the impact of the statement or argument is somehow weakened; actually, just the reverse is true. Every language known to man is punctuated with the adornment of numerous figures of speech.

Figures of Speech Used in the Bible - Asyndeton

The Greeks were so sophisticated in the art of symbolic language that they gave names to more than forms. Scholars have given several reasons why figurative language developed and accelerated across the centuries.

Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

First, all languages are growing entities. There is not always a word to express a specific idea; accordingly, figures develop so that thoughts may be conveyed more precisely and dramatically. Thomas Horne explained it in this fashion:. It is impossible to have a precise word for every idea; accordingly, rather than attempting to invent a new term for each expression of human thought, words began to be employed in multiple senses.

Second, the human mind has been so designed as to appreciate comparisons. Thus, the use of analogies accommodates the very way we think. It was but a natural inclination, therefore, that man progressively concocted language patterns to help describe ideas, and to strengthen human communication. The fact is, it is difficult to convey certain ideas in the sterile atmosphere of pure literalism. Third, in terms of biblical studies, it must be recognized that many of the great spiritual truths of scripture e. Fourth, it should be remembered that most of our knowledge is acquired by means of sense perception, i.

Frequently, we think in pictures. It is not at all surprising, therefore, that graphic images of human languages should be borrowed from the world about us so as to facilitate our communication with one another. How does this concept apply to interpreting the figurative language of the Bible? In his classic work on biblical hermeneutics, Milton Terry comments regarding this point. The truth is, a very strong case can be made for the fact that the land of Canaan was selected providentially by God because of its vast range of flora and fauna.

This was due also to its topographical variations, its differentiated climatic conditions, and its rich historical background.