Help Understanding Figurative Language

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Don Awalt | Forum Activity | Posted: Wed, Aug 24 2016 5:19 AM

HI all,

I watched the video on the new Figurative Language feature for the NT, and I thought I understood it, but then I ran this search and I am confused as to the results. Can someone explain why these search results are considered figurative language, or comment on my thoughts? I am feeling slow-witted today.

I see how verse 51 "Weeping and gnashing of teeth" is figurative - I also kind of understand verse 48, but why is "himself" the result and not (also) the wicked servant? "Son of Man" does not seem figurative to me as Jesus called himself that, although I guess I understand it in context of Daniel who used the term so Jesus is inferring a comparison to that reference. But "Lord" as figurative language? I don't think that's what anyone will call the term?

Thanks!

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Graham Criddle | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Aug 24 2016 5:55 AM

Don Awalt:
But "Lord" as figurative language? I don't think that's what anyone will call the term?

This is how it is defined in the glossary

So it's arguing that the term Lord is being used as a metaphor. I'll need to think about itSmile

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Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Aug 24 2016 5:58 AM

The Son of Man is a figure of speech in that it is not to be understood literally. A literal meaning would be that son of x, means that a person by the name of x is the father of whoever is referred to as his son. "Son" is already figurative in that in means "descendant". "Man" means mankind. In the case of the Lord Jesus, the "Son of Man" is even more loaded with more meaning than a mere literal reading would allow. 

I am not so sure about the other two instances. Perhaps it is an error. Perhaps there is some reasoning behind it such as the wicked servant does not actually speak words to himself. It's a manner of speaking, that is, figurative language to say, "he thought". As for "Lord" perhaps it is thought, in the context of the explicatory parable that follows, to mean literally the "master of the house" (the owner of the slaves, head of household, etc) which is a figure of speech to represent by analogy the authority of Christ? As I said, not sure about this at all. Perhaps these are just errors.

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Josh Westbury | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Aug 24 2016 11:09 AM

Matt. 24.48  highlights one of the great features of the figurative language dataset. Since we annotated the Greek New Testament, places where English translations have obscured figurative expressions in the Greek, are now easily seen in your preferred English translation. So, for example, the ESV has translated the Greek phrase "in his heart" as "to himself". The figurative (metonymic) expression is "his heart" which is used to refer to the whole person, hence the ESV's translation "himself". The figurative language dataset allows you to see important underlying figurative expressions that may be easily missed with an English translations.

Another benefit of the dataset is that it prompts reader's of the Bible to think about terms that are used so frequently that we sometimes miss the fact that they are used figuratively to convey a specific meaning. For example, words like "King" and "Lord', commonly used to refer to God and Jesus, represent concepts that are deeply rooted in a broader cultural knowledge frame. Lord, for example, was widely used as term of respect for people who were considered of superior social or political rank. As a result, the term came to be associated with a variety of meanings, including authority, power, and even sovereignty. Since Jesus didn't possess any of the social, political or cultural trappings typically associated with those referred to as "Lord" (i.e. he didn't have a home, wealth, or social or political status), using this figurative expression to refer to Jesus is significant.

 

 

Josh Westbury, PhD

Scholar-in-Residence, Faithlife Corp.

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Eli Evans (Faithlife) | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Aug 24 2016 2:05 PM

Josh Westbury:
Since Jesus didn't possess any of the social, political or cultural trappings typically associated with those referred to as "Lord" (i.e. he didn't have a home, wealth, or social or political status), using this figurative expression to refer to Jesus is significant.

And of course we know he actually is the ruler of the universe, but not everyone in the text knows that (or knows it to its full extent, which is only revealed later) which makes this expression a kind of dramatic irony as well. (See Luke 6:46, John 13:13 where Jesus calls this out explicitly.)

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Don Awalt | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Aug 24 2016 3:50 PM

OK thanks all, and thanks Graham for the Glossary reference!

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Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Aug 25 2016 12:21 AM

Thanks for the helpful explanations. One bottom-line I take from this is the reminder to check the underlying original language text because the translational choices of the modern version we use may obscure in what sense something is figurative. 

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