Please Explain the Negative

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Bryce Hufford | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Sep 5 2019 6:27 PM

I think there is a bit of over analysis to your question.  A negative sentence from a grammar perspective is “I am not eating broccoli.”  It is negative because I used the word “not”.  It isn’t a bad thing though, because I don’t like broccoli.

Conversely ”I am sick.” is a positive sentence from a grammar standpoint,  but it it is obviously not a good thing.

Positive and negative from a grammatical sense have absolutely nothing to do if the action is good/favorable or bad/unfavorable.  Does that make sense?

Posts 6315
DAL | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Sep 5 2019 7:15 PM

Bryce Hufford:

I think there is a bit of over analysis to your question.  A negative sentence from a grammar perspective is “I am not eating broccoli.”  It is negative because I used the word “not”.  It isn’t a bad thing though, because I don’t like broccoli.

Conversely ”I am sick.” is a positive sentence from a grammar standpoint,  but it it is obviously not a good thing.

Positive and negative from a grammatical sense have absolutely nothing to do if the action is good/favorable or bad/unfavorable.  Does that make sense?

After reading an article in google, this actually makes more sense.  I read the same grammatical concept in Spanish and it applies the same way.  I think I grasp it better now.  I should be able to explain it in a lesson I’m working on.  I don’t like to repeat things like a parrot ๐Ÿฆœ for the sake of sounding smart.  I’d make a fool of myself if someone asked, “why are you saying ‘described in the negative’ when it’s actually a positive thing not to have those qualities!” In other words, I don’t want to say, “Love, described in the negative...etc.” and not know what it really means.

DAL

Posts 191
Puddin’ | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Sep 6 2019 12:45 AM

Rosie Perera:

DAL:

 I noticed that a lot of commentaries  when explaining things that are actually positive they say that it’s described in the negative.  Why is that?  English is my second language but I never quite understood that, so I’m trying to grasp the grammatical concept; so please bear with me.

 Here is an example:  “Love described in the negative does not envy,  does not parade itself, is not puffed up, does not behave rudely, etc.”  Elders’s good qualifications are described in the negative as “not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, etc.”

 All these things are good for them “not to be“ but it’s still said that it is described in the negative. Why?

The commentaries are merely saying that it's phrased in a grammatically negative way ("not ..."), rather than that it is a negative (bad) quality for them to have.

There are a lot of things in the Bible that are stated as grammatical negations. Most of the Ten Commandments are in the form of "Thou shalt NOT..." rather than affirming positively how one should behave. The only positive ones are "Remember the Sabbath day" and "Honor your father and mother." Again, it's about grammar only, and negative grammar does not imply that it's a bad behavior being commanded, it means the command is rather to avoid bad behavior. Why does so much of the Bible command against bad behavior rather than commanding good behavior? Maybe it's because we are so prone to sin we need to be reminded what not to do.

I personally think (and psychology seems to agree) that it's usually better to instruct in good behavior than to forbid bad behavior. When training little children for example, if you tell them not to do something, it becomes like the forbidden fruit, and they are more likely to want to try it to test boundaries. It's better to say something like "Stay with me on the sidewalk and hold my hand" rather than "Don't run into the road!" But it's human nature to speak the forbidding word. We do it all the time.

In Christ, by the Holy Spirit, we are guided to a new way of living (positive rather than negative). I'm reminded of Col 2:20-23: "If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the universe, why do you live as if you still belonged to the world? Why do you submit to regulations, “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch”? All these regulations refer to things that perish with use; they are simply human commands and teachings. These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-imposed piety, humility, and severe treatment of the body, but they are of no value in checking self-indulgence." And yet there are still some negative commands in the New Testament. E.g., Philippians 2:3: "Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves." And 1 Thessalonians 5:19–22: "Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise the words of prophets, but test everything; hold fast to what is good; abstain from every form of evil." (Both of those have both a negative and a positive aspect.)

Wowsie—very insightful post.  In pastoring a church I have to constantly remind myself to encourage the good behavior contra discouraging the negative behavior....something my fallen humanity doesn’t always want to do ๐Ÿคจ!  Although, there are times the pastor has to “make the vision plain”—otherwise, some people just won’t get it (hard to believe I know ๐Ÿคช!).

Excellent thread.

Posts 6315
DAL | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Sep 6 2019 5:14 AM

Good morning! ๐ŸŒž 

Thank you all for your contribution to this tread! I can now say I understand the “Negatives” grammatical concept thanks to each of you.  I will also get the English Grammar to Ace Biblical Hebrew and Greek to help me understand other grammatical concepts and be able to better explain the Sacred Text ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ‘Œ

Have a blessed weekend!

DAL

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