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  1. #1
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    Figure of Speech


    CONDESCENSION. This is the figure that tells what Jesus did for mankind. Webster defines it: "To descend voluntarily to the level, regarded as lower, of the person one is dealing with." We act out this figure when we play hide & seek with our kids, or talk baby-talk to them, or when we pretend to nibble on the baby's toes. It's a very legitimate figure that may be used by policemen who speak to an elementary class, or a Senator who addresses a graduation, or by a member of one ethnic group to another; and it's apt to be used by anyone who considers himself superior to the ones he's addressing. Beware of using this figure on another adult--he won't like it even a little bit if he thinks you're condescending to him. "Who do you think you are, Buster?" What right have you to speak to me like that? "I'll be the judge of that: Nobody, but nobody, tells me what to do!" Because authority is involved, condescension is a very powerful figure of speech.

    A reading of the first three gospels makes it seem as though Jesus was simply born as a baby like everyone else, but from then on the story makes it increasingly clear that he'd had a previous life with the Father before being born on earth. From John's Gospel through Revelation we learn about how he condescended to come to Earth to be an example for us, and a Saviour & Deliverer, and to be a Son of God in the flesh!

    Rom8:3: "God sending his own son in the likeness of human flesh.."

    Heb10:5 "..a body hast thou prepared me.."

    Phil 2:7 "Took upon him the form of a servant; made in the likeness of men.."
    Dux allows: "It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out the matter". Pr25:2

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    HYSTERESIS. In physics this is called the lag that results from the change in forces applied; but in English it's the withheld or retarded (delayed) information 'figure' that holds back certain data; as in a mystery story where the writer wants to maintain the suspense until that final chapter. "A fool utters all his mind: but a wise man keeps it in till afterward". Pr29:11. This isn't the same as the parallax that results from a change in the viewer's position, although both of these conditions will figuratively alter a person's perspective and cause them to consider how it might look from another angle.

    We don't give all the facts of life to our children right off the bat, and likewise the Bible withholds important information concerning Enoch, Esau, Melchisedek, etc. until the latter part of the Epistles. The name of Jesus was kept secret in the Old Testament (though he was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, Rev13:8), and even the first three gospels didn't let on that He'd been with the Father from the Beginning--it was the Apostle John who finally let that cat out of the bag, in Jn1:1.
    Dux allows: "It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out the matter". Pr25:2

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    ANAMORPHOSIS. This word is tantamount to "Paraphrase" because it means "a new form", and a paraphrase is simply a new or different way of saying the same thing. Webster defines anamorphosis as "a gradual change of form by evolution". hah! It's similar to metamorphosis which describes the drastic body change that takes place when a caterpillar turns into a butterfly, or a tadpole into a frog. It's especially fascinating to Christians who look forward to becoming new creatures with new bodies! 1Cor15:38,52. And "flying away", per the Psalm of Moses, 90:10.

    A new form concerning language is simply another way of saying the same thing, and so it can apply to the same message in different languages, or figuratively like when I say "Put the pedal to the metal", instead of 'Go faster'. If your sweetie is lamenting the youthful years just say "the older the violin, the prettier the music". Once you've paraphrased something accurately, you have two messages that say the same thing, only differently. The two are one! Kapesh?
    Dux allows: "It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out the matter". Pr25:2

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    ELLIPSIS. This is the figure of omission, that leaves out a portion of a word or expression for effect, or 'to make a long story short', or like when we say "You'd better do it, or else..." The unsaid portion may use innuendo or insinuation to say more by its silence than if it were graphical. The word ellipsis is cousin to the geometrical figure of the ellipse that 'falls short' of a full circle; thus leaving out a portion. In grammar it's the apostrophe that fills in for omitted letters like the no in can't; and ellipsis points are those dots . . . which indicate something has been left out of the quotation or text.
    The three stars in Orion's belt are a heavenly ellipsis to remind us that the constellations represent living creatures or objects that can't literally be seen, but must be visualized according to ancient lore. It isn't a "connect the dots" or 'stick figure' problem, but is more like the job of anthropologists who try to reconstruct a creature's appearance by examining the bones.

    Scripture doesn't reveal everything!

    "And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples,which are NOT
    written in this book; but these are written that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ,
    the Son of God; and that believing you might have life through his name". Jn20:30.
    Dux allows: "It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out the matter". Pr25:2

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    SATIRE. The etymology of this word is from one used of a dish of mixed fruit; and another meaning 'a poetic medley'. Webster describes it as (1) a literary work in which vices and stupidity are held up to ridicule or contempt, and (2) the use of trenchant wit, irony, sarcasm, etc., to mock or discredit human follies & foibles.

    Job uses satire in 12:2 when he tells his 3 'friends' "No doubt but you are the people, and wisdom shall die with you". The synecdoche figure is seen also, as he lumps the three as representing everybody, and in the vernacular of the 20th Century we'd say: "You think you know it all, do you? or "Who died and left you in charge?"

    It's the uncommon word "trenchant" that corresponds to the "cutting covenant" that must rightly-divide the Word of God. Abraham divided the animals, Gen15:10, to illustrate how the New Covenant would figuratively be a dividing covenant to separate the sheep from the goats, the clean from the unclean, and probably the doves from the hawks; according to the way they deal with God's Word. If they've dealt off the bottom, or stacked the deck, or haven't cut the cards; they're in a peck of trouble.

    The Apostle Paul used satire when he said "But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant", 1Cor14:38. No one really wants to be ignorant (do they?), but how will they learn without a teacher? Rom10:14, Jn16:13. I can easily understand how people today don't know what Jesus said, but they surely know the gist of five of the Ten Commandments are essentially contained in the tenets of most cults and religions, and the laws of all countries. "The Gentiles which have not the Law, are a law unto themselves." Rom2:14.
    Dux allows: "It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out the matter". Pr25:2

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    Hyperbole is next door neighbor to lying, and sometime's the fence between them gets completely broken down; as when the movie screen portrays Christ stumbling under the weight of the wooden cross (not found in scripture), or when they toy with our emotions by describing how the cat o' nine tails used to whip Him was an unusually torturous type. They're either using tradition, or fanciful hyperbole, to stress the suffering of Christ, and it sets a style and precedent for a very loose and generalized interpretation of God's Word (putting words in His mouth, so to speak), and many people accept it as gospel truth without ever bothering to check it for accuracy. It's a rare book or script indeed that doesn't wander from the explicit Word, but only those who know their Bible are aware of the deviations. Because of the movies and Charleton Heston we're apt to think of Moses as a dynamic and forceful speaker, but scripture says 'No', that the speaking was done by his brother Aaron. Ex4:10.

    To say that someone is 'strong as an ox', or 'faster than greased lightning', or 'slower than molasses in January', isn't meant to be taken literally; nor is it said with the intent to deceive. If I've told you something 'a million times', and you only remember hearing it Heinz fifty-seven, consider it hyperbole and try not to get bent out of shape. If I say "You always make a mess of things", and you recollect the time you did it neatly and smoothly; just say 'hyperbole' to yourself ten times. This is the figure that uses those all-inclusive generalities to greatly increase the odds and the degree of affliction. "They're all monsters!" (speaking of 3rd graders), or "Nobody gives me a chance"...speaking of the crew at the office or on the job. Haven't we all been guilty of using these exaggerated expressions? Can we say to God that He's not allowed?
    You think?
    Dux allows: "It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out the matter". Pr25:2

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    SYNECDOCHE. Webster calls this: "a figure of speech in which a part is used for a whole, an individual for a class, a material for a thing, or the reverse of any of these." He says it's "a receiving together", or as we might say today: Everything lumped into one. We might ask for her hand in marriage, or they might announce "All Hands on deck", when it's the entire person they desire to be activated.

    This is the figure of the corporation concept that begins as a single unit and grows into a family, a clan, a dynasty, a nation, etc. When one of a thing represents more than one or many (like in the Trinity), or when the many are all lumped together; it's synecdoche, and it's the one man Adam who represents all of fleshly mankind who dies; and it's the one saviour Jesus who represents spiritual mankind who receives eternal life.

    Ezekiel chapter 16 is a notable example of synecdoche, where God first see's the City of Jerusalem as a newborn baby girl who hadn't yet been swaddled or salted, or even had the umbilical cord tied off. Nobody pitied her, God said, but He had caused her to grow through puberty into a beautiful nubile young woman who was ready for love and to be a wife; but she was unfaithful and didn't raise her children properly, and wound up being a harlot. In reality the subject of this chapter is the Hebrews themselves, who by now have been carried off 'captive' to Babylon, where Ezekiel writes from. The baby girl is a non-person, fictitious; but symbolically the segment of society who aren't faithful to the One True God.

    In the New Testament the synecdoche figure is used for the church that is the Body of Christ with many members--one body, but a large "membership". 1Cor12:13. In the Old Testament it was Jacob who had his name changed to "Israel", and who sired the dozen sons that became the 12 tribes, and subsequently grew into the Nation of Israel. When God said "Israel is my Son, even my firstborn", Ex4:22, he wasn't speaking of just a single individual, but of that entire collective nation of "The Children of Israel". He looked upon all of them as "One Son"--a corporate contrast to the earlier firstborn 'Adam'. Luke 3:38.

    Scripture substitutes one thing for another: days are put for years, horses are put for actions, wisdom is termed "she", words are called fruit, deliverance is called bread, and cities are spoken of as ideological dwellings. People are called trees, stones, clay, bread, etc. Jeremiah 3:1 asks the question: "If a man leaves his wife, and she remarries; shall he return to her again?. .won't that land be greatly polluted? The analogy compares the fruit of the harvest to the fruit of the womb; and both are meant to be fruitful! When someone else intrudes into the conversation it's often said: "Aha! Another country heard from!"

    "God called his Son out of Egypt". Mt2:15/Hos11:1. Moses delivered the Children out of there, and Jesus was called out of there as a boy -- from that geographical location and country of the pyramids -- but the covert meaning is that God calls each and everyone of us to come out from our worldly thinking, and separate ourselves to Him. 2Cor6:17. The first great Passover was the ceremony that preceded their departure from Egypt, and thereafter they observed it annually; but under the New Covenant today we fulfill it individually whenever we accept Him as the True Lamb of God, and begin to "eat The Word". It's when we forsake the ways of the world that we "come out of Egypt". When we don't do it, we have only ourselves to blame for the consequences.
    Dux allows: "It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out the matter". Pr25:2

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    ANTHROPOMORPHISM. From 'anthropo', a human, and 'morphus', a form or figure; this literally translates as "figure or form of man". Webster calls this "the attributing of human shape or characteristics to a god, animal, or inanimate thing". Closely akin to Personification; the figure in which an object or quality or idea, is represented as a person.

    Jesus said: "Behold, I send you forth as SHEEP in the midst of WOLVES; be ye therefore wise as SERPENTS, and harmless as DOVES". Matt10:16 KJV

    Does the eye of God have a cornea and pupil as ours does? Is He simply a larger hunk of flesh than we are? Does his arm have sinews and muscle? Is he ribbing us (joking/teasing) or'pulling our leg' about His Word? Does he have feathers, as Ps91 indicates? Remember, Jesus used the bird-analogy too:

    "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets (Did the City do it?) ..How often would I have gathered thy children, even as a hen gathers her chickens.." Mt23:37.

    Some days we're so busy wrestling alligators that we forget that we started out planning to drain the swamp. No alligators in the Bible, but our modern vernacular understands alligators are more like 'a problem'.

    Spiritual things must be understood as having certain parallels and comparisons to our physical world, without insisting on 100% conformity. In analogy, the two things being compared are never quite the same--the example cannot be exactly like the subject, so the differences must be discounted and set aside.

    He told her "It isn't right to give the Children's food to the DOGS", Mark7:27. The "Children" were the 'Children of Israel', the Jews, and the "Dogs" were the Gentiles, and this Syrophenician (Greek) woman was appealing to him for healing for her daughter.

    Rather than being insulted, and taking offence at being called a dog, she replied that "Even the dogs get the crumbs under the table", Matt15:27. This story is only found in Matthew and Mark, and she probably wasn't aware that Jesus was the True Bread and source of the crumbs, but he definitely liked her persistence and faith, and her daughter was healed in absentia.

    Makes you wonder where the cats were - and the current saying about 'Cats being harder to herd than sheep' -- You think?
    Dux allows: "It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out the matter". Pr25:2

  9. #9
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    AMBIGUITY. From a root meaning 'to wander or waver', an ambiguous word or expression is one that has two or more interpretations, as in "the blind man picked up his hammer and saw", or as the minister says to the newlyweds: "May all your troubles be little ones". These are 'plays-on-words', or epigrams; but ambiguities also include those serious passages where the author uses obscure or equivocal phrases, or doesn't provide enough amplifying information in the immediate context to enable the reader to tell which way it should be understood. This figure is double-trouble because people aren't always aware of the alternate meaning(s), and some see it one way, and some the other, according to their experience and background. It's the figure that may well be the taproot of OUR CONFOUNDED LANGUAGE, as well as of our divisive denominationalism.

    Psalm 37:4. "Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give you the desires of your heart". Does this mean that He'll give you the white pony you've been wanting; or does it mean he'll give you a change of heart that wants a red wagon..? Phil 2:3 reads "It is God which works in you..to do of His good pleasure". It's probably more important that we recognize both possibilities, than that we judge one to be 'right', and the other 'wrong'.

    John 6:44. "No man can come to me, except the Father...draw him". Does this mean that a person must sit tight and wait for God to make the first move, or did Jesus mean that man's search for his roots or Creator would lead him to the Son? "God has dealt to every man the measure of faith", Rom12:3, and "Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you", Jas4:8, inclines me to the latter understanding.

    "Those that WAIT upon the Lord shall renew their strength", Isa40:31. The verse goes on to say that they'll walk and they'll run. Is this like the wait we do in the doctor's office, where we sit and do nothing; or is it like what the waiter does in the restaurant; to get busy and serve? When decision time rolls around, do we just sit there until something develops, or do we get up and get going? Do both apply at the appropriate time? If I've been waiting to hear from the Lord for umpteen months with no results, should I go ahead and make the plunge and do what I think is right? (Personally, I favor this latter view, and it's the reason I'm spending all this time at the keyboard).
    Dux allows: "It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out the matter". Pr25:2

  10. #10
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    MALAPROPISM. From the combination of 'malady', meaning 'sick', and 'apropos', 'to the right purpose'; this figure-of-speech means wrong thinking; like in ludicrous foolishness that transposes or confuses one word or expression for another or the outrageous bluff of Solomon to 'cut the baby in half'! We speak of the "tail wagging the dog" when a tiny something affects a larger something, or when the solution comes from an unexpected quarter.

    "Are you serious?" "No, Sirius is the dog star". Surely you jest! "I'm not Shirley; I'm jest Ernest as I can be."

    Comedians make their living with this figure; using wacky and idiotic plays-on-words, so it's a figure that's heavily into humor, despite its inherent falseness. Jesus said "Of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks", Mt12:34, and "By their fruits you shall know them", Mt7:20, so it's the motivation of the speaker which determines whether the malapropism is refudiate sick-yuk, or is healthy humor. You may have a general feeling for the meaning of "fruit", but when you arrive at Galatians 5:22 in the Epistles, you'll learn about nine specific fruit that come from the same spirit.

    A king is a ruler because that's a foot long, and a foot goes into a shoe, which is why you shoo a fly, and when you fly you're up in the air, and an heir is one who has a fortune, and with one of those you can charge all you like, and a since a king is the one who's in charge; that's why a king is a ruler! This is foolish and cockeyed logic for sure, like putting lipstick on a pig!

    This figure of malapropism, with its aspect of sick-thinking, reminds me of the story that's told about a church that split up over the question of whether or not Adam and Eve had navels! Sure it's an intriguing thought (like "which came first; the chicken or the egg?"), but maybe we shouldn't open that 'can of worms', and "that dog won't hunt", and grownups ought to know better than to make mountains out of molehills, or grand-canyons from belly-buttons.

    "The foolishness of God is wiser than men", and "God chose the foolish things of the world to confound the wise", 1Cor1:25. Is He allowed to round off numbers, or to change from days to years, like in a Day for 1,000 yrs.? It may be funny-malapropos to confuse one word with another; but it's a downright shame for The Word of God to be confused with the doctrines and ideas of long robed or long haired men.
    Dux allows: "It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out the matter". Pr25:2

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