Thursday, October 25, 2007

New Testament Exegesis Step 6: Rhetorical Devices

So far in this series we've looked at
1) Spiritual preparation.
2) General introduction.
3) Literary context.
4) Provisional translation
5) Grammatical Analysis.

Now we're at step 6:

6) Rhetorical Devices:

This involves looking for repeated words, transition devices, and parallelisms.
Right now, we're going to look at repeated words:

6a) Repeated and synonymous words:
At this stage in Exegesis it is good to look for repeated words, and then mark them in some way. I like to colour code repeated words.
For example when I was studying John 6, I noticed the Greek word pisteuo (to believe, trust) come up a number of times, so I colour coded it green. Then I colour coded the word erchomai (to come) in blue, the word didomi (to give) in yellow, anistemi (to rise) in grey, and dunami (able) in pink, I also colour coded the word to see, but to save time and space I have not put it down here):

ESV John 6:35 Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.

ESV John 6:36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe.

ESV John 6:37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.

ESV John 6:39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.

ESV John 6:40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day."

ESV John 6:44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.

ESV John 6:45 It is written in the Prophets, 'And they will all be taught by God.' Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me--

ESV John 6:47 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.

ESV John 6:64 But there are some of you who do not believe." (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.)

ESV John 6:65 And he said, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father."

=> Having these words coloured makes it much easier to see the point Jesus is making. It also makes it easier to scan through many verses and quickly see where certain words are repeated.

Having coloured these words we can also see clear themes in the text, in this case we see the following:

Being Given,
Being raised up.

By looking at the first two 'coming' and 'believing' more closely we can see that both have the same meaning in this text (see John 6:35).

By looking at the similarities between v.44 and v.65 we can see that word 'given' (v.65) is used synonymously with the word 'drawn' (v.44). Therefore I have colour coded the word 'drawn' in orange as it is close to yellow.

This leaves us with the final word 'raised', and if we look for every grey instance of this word, we see that this is not talking about a general resurrection of both the wicked and the righteous, but is talking about only those the Father has given to Jesus (v.39).

There is more than can be mined here, but hopefully there is enough here to demonstrate the usefulness of looking for repeated words.