Thursday, November 26, 2009

Today’s Gleaning 11/26/09

For some reason I have great difficulty remembering the meaning of metonymy and today’s reading in the Institutes (Section: 4.17.21-23) should be helpful in that regard, because Calvin helpfully points out that this figure of speech is the explanation for what Jesus meant when he said of the bread at the Last Supper, “This is my body.” Calvin goes on to point out many other scriptural examples of this literary device:

“I say that this expression is a metonymy, a figure of speech commonly used in Scripture when mysteries are under discussion. For you could not otherwise understand such expressions as "circumcision is a covenant" [Gen. 17:13], "the lamb is the passover" [Ex. 12:11], "the sacrifices of the law are expiations" [Lev. 17:11; Heb. 9:22], and finally, "the rock from which water flowed in the desert" [Ex. 17:6], "was Christ" [I Cor. 10:4], unless you were to take them as spoken with meanings transferred. Not only is the name transferred from something higher to something lower, but, on the other hand, the name of the visible sign is also given to the thing signified: as when God is said to have appeared to Moses in the bush [Ex. 3:2]; the Ark of the Covenant is called God and God's face [Ps. 84:8; 42:3]; and the dove, the Holy Spirit [Matt. 3:16].”


At the rate I’m referencing the daily Calvin reading, I may be approaching Blogging the Institutes, but more learned men, such as Sinclair Fergusson, Stephen Nichols and Derek Thomas are doing a great job at this eponymous site. Concerning today’s reading, Derek Thomas catalogs a long list of literary devices employed by the Bible’s authors:

“Paul says "so is Christ" in 1 Corinthians 12:12 having spoken of the church, Christ is to be equated with the church's members. This is to fail to see the literary nature of Scripture, bearing marks of human (as well as divine authorship): thus we find acrostics, alliteration, analogy, anthropomorphism, assonance, cadence, chiasm, consonance, dialogue, hyperbole, irony, metaphor, meter, onomatopoeia, paradox, parallelism, repetition, rhyme, satire, simile and more. So why should we stumble over the meaning of "is" as metonymy?”

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