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Divinely Inspired Rhetoric

It’s challenging enough for us to think of the eternal God revealing Himself to human beings in human language in the Sacred Scriptures. When we realize, however, that God not only reveals truth to us, but does so by means of rhetorical figures of speech, that we might be moved by His revelation, the Scriptures become even more fascinating.

A while back, I came upon an old 17th century book by a writer unknown to me, Cornelius Norwood, in which he collected examples from Sacred Scripture of all of the different figures of speech.

He explains that “a trope js nothing else , but the change of a word, from its natural signification, into another, whereby the idea of any thing is more sensible to us.” He then goes on to show that as we use words in this way, so does God also use them in communicating with us.

For example, God uses hyperbole in Genesis 32:12, the Holy Spirit says that “Thy Seed shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.”

Again, in Luke 16:29, Our Lord uses metonymy, saying, “They have Moses and the Prophets.” to signify the five books of Moses and the writings of the Old Testament Prophets.

In Deuteronomy 32:42, the Lord uses metaphor, “I will make my arrows drunk with blood and my sword shall eat flesh.”

Many more examples are collected in this great old book, which provides great motivation for the study of the art of Rhetoric: even God uses Rhetoric.

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