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Elements of Persuasion in the Bible

Elements of Persuasion in the Bible

The study of Greek Persuasion Concepts has an interesting effect on people: they begin to see these concepts in just about every form of communication they encounter.

Hebrew and Christian Scripture - being the quintessential communications document - offers many excellent examples of Persuasion. Each of the concepts is represented!

Elements of Persuasion in the Bible

The Classical Concepts of Persuasion (Pathos)

Types of Suggestion

Psychological Forms

Scripture references, except where noted, from the New International Version; [JB] = The Jerusalem Bible.

The Classical Concepts of Persuasion (Pathos)

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Simile - A Qualified Comparison using "as", "as if", or "like"; softer in its implications. "She is like a Dove."

Metaphor - An Absolute Comparison with no qualifiers. "She is a Dove."

Allegory - A series of Tropes; a figurative treatment of one subject under the guise of another; a parable.

Metonymy - Borrowing a word out of its element for use in a cause/effect relationship where the word enhances or augments its new surroundings. "Ruby Lips."

Synecdoche - Using the Whole for a Part, or the Part for a Whole. "Russia" for "U.S.S.R." "Americans" for residents of "U.S.A." exclusively.

Antonomasia - Using a Proper Name for a Common Name. "Frigidaire" means "Refrigerator." "Chyron," a specific manufacturer of character generators, means "Character Generator."

Irony - A Polite Wounding; an incongruity of speech in which the words express a meaning that is usually opposite of the intended meaning; can be unintentional.

Sarcasm - A form of Irony that is deliberately intended to hurt or offend; always intentional.

Hyperbole - An intentional exaggeration not intended to be taken literally; usually descriptive in nature.

Catachresis - Related to Metaphor, but more direct; name-calling. "He's a dork." "What a doll."

Onomatopoeia - The use of suggestive words for rhetorical effect, usually through the imitation of sounds. "Crack." "Tweet."

Interrogatio - Asking a question or series of questions in order to trap someone into a specific response or to make a point. A leading question.

Dissimulation - Use of humor to emphasize the differences between two ideas, or to evoke a confession.

Ecphonesis - A showing of strong or vehement passion.

Aporia - The art of creating doubt.

Personification - Giving human attributes to inanimate objects in a passive form. "That stupid bed."

Aposiopesis - Denial through pretending to conceal or omit what one really intends to declare. "We won't mention the fact that my opponent is a womanizing hedonist: it's not really germane to the discussion."

Anacoenosis - Appealing to the audience for documentation or approval.

Anastrophe - Inversion; holding the point to the end to increase the listener's expectations or to thwart a hostile audience.

Erotesis - A show of strong emotion in order to infuse energy or passion into our discourse.

Prolepsis - Enumerate our opponent's objections in our discourse, then answer them in order to emasculate them.

Epanaphora - Graceful repetition; either a word or phrase alone, or a word at the beginning of a series of phrases. Beatitudes.

Apostrophe - The deliberate interruption of our current train of thought for a specific effect.

Periphrasis - Double-talk. Use of pedantic or excessive language in order to dodge an issue or question. Common in politics.

Synchoresis - Granting or yielding a point in order to win one

Asyndeton - Omitting conjunctions, such as "and", "but", "however".

Polyasyndeton - Deliberate use of conjunctions.

Oxymoron - Two juxtaposed concepts which apparently contradict each other, used to lend force to an expression.

Enantiosis - The juxtaposition of opposites used to mutually set off or enhance each other.

Climax - Building to a key point.

Hypotyposis - Language that moves very rapidly; using as few words as possible to make a point.

Prosopopeia - Giving human attributes to inanimate objects in an active form. "The bed said, 'You stupid human.'"

Alliteration - Repetition of consonants.

Epiphonema - The Epic Statement; a word or phrase that is intended to be remembered; a slogan or trademark. Usually used at the end of a discourse.

Euphony - A pleasant-sounding title, usually used to describe an unpleasant task or object. "Sanitation Engineer" for "Garbage Collector". Tool of the Politically Correct.

Cacophony - Describing in loud or harsh terms, or the use of loud sounds or language.

Honorific - Giving people or items a title. "The Right Honorable Mr. Quinton Smythe Jones". "Quinton Jones, Esq." for an attorney. Glossary

Types of Suggestion

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Ideomotor - Self-suggestion (or self-motivation) that originates from within; usually self-revelatory.

Prestige - Associate a cause, project, or product with a prestigious source, implying that consumption will impart qualities of the endorser on the consumer. Usually used with Transfer (below).

Auto-Suggestion - Self-suggestion that originates from without.

Direct Suggestion - Directly suggesting an action. "You must do such-and-such."

Indirect Suggestion - Suggesting an action by delineating a path and letting the subject arrive at the target suggestion through his or her own interest.

Negative Suggestion - Suggesting a negative attitude by example.

Positive Suggestion - Putting something in a positive light, usually through praise or flattery.

Counter Suggestion - Countering an opponent's suggestion, usually before it is made.

Psychological Forms

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Atmosphere Effect - Develop an atmosphere or mood complimentary to the message.

Together Device - Fostering Unity; appealing to the harmonious whole, or as a harmonious whole. "We're in this together."

Common Ground - Appealing to those individual aspects we all share. "What do we have in common?"

Rationalization - A neutral term: an emotional form of proof that we reason to explain an event, or warrant a position; to invent plausible explanations for (acts, opinions, etc.) that actually have other causes.

Repetition - Repeat an idea for effect. "Tell 'em what you're gonna tell 'em, tell 'em, then tell 'em you told 'em."

Scapegoat Technique - Blaming others for unreconcilable problems in which they had no involvement, usually to escape one's own fault.

The Big Lie - To tell a lie in such a way that it sounds like truth: the bigger the lie, the more credibility it exudes. "I feel your pain", "The Worst Economy of the last 50 years". OR To tell the truth in such a way that it sounds like a lie.

Strategy of Terror - Using terror or fear to elicit a response or an action. "They want to take away your medicare."

Transfer - The concept that, by using a product (or adopting a position) endorsed by a desirable spokesman, some of the qualities of the spokesman - ostensibly gained by him through use of the same product - will transfer to us. Usually used with Prestige (see above).

Plain Folks - Appeal to the basic elements of a population.

Testimonial - Using the testimony of an endorser (either celebrity or average Joe) to promote a product; usually outcome-based (what the product did for him).

Band Wagon - Conscientious attempt through excitement or pressure to get people to support your cause, usually through a degree of coercion. "Get on the Band Wagon."

Simile

Top of Document

A Qualified Comparison using "as", "as if", or "like"; softer in its implications. "She is like a Dove."

Song of Solomon 2:2,3

Isaiah 53:7

1 Peter 1:24,25

Deuteronomy 32:2


Metaphor

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An Absolute Comparison with no qualifiers. "She is a Dove."

Song of Solomon 2:1

Genesis 49:9 [JB]

Exodus 15:2

Job 27:18 [JB]

Song of Solomon 1:13-14 [JB]


Allegory

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A series of Tropes; a figurative treatment of one subject under the guise of another; a parable.

Luke 6:46-49

Matthew 18:12-14

Matthew 13:45,46


Metonymy

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Borrowing a word out of its element for use in a cause/effect relationship where the word enhances or augments its new surroundings. "Ruby Lips."

Exodus 4:21

Exodus 15:6

2 Kings 2:11,12 [JB]

Psalms 5:9b [JB]


Synecdoche

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Using the Whole for a Part, or the Part for a Whole. "Russia" for "U.S.S.R." "Americans" for residents of "U.S.A." exclusively.

Genesis 32:28

Isaiah 1:2,3


Antonomasia

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Using a Proper Name for a Common Name. "Frigidaire" means "Refrigerator." "Chyron," a specific manufacturer of character generators, means "Character Generator."

1 Samuel 2:2

Job 28:28 [JB]

Jeremiah 23:5,6


Irony

Top of Document

A Polite Wounding; an incongruity of speech in which the words express a meaning that is usually opposite of the intended meaning; can be unintentional.

Habakkuk 1:14-17

Matthew 6:7

Luke 2:43,...48,49


Sarcasm

Top of Document

A form of Irony that is deliberately intended to hurt or offend; always intentional.

1 Samuel 10:26,27 [JB]

2 Samuel 6:20

Proverbs 26:11

Hosea 1:2 [JB]

Luke 6:42a


Hyperbole

Top of Document

An intentional exaggeration not intended to be taken literally; usually descriptive in nature.

Exodus 19:4-6

Deuteronomy 26:9 [JB]

Deuteronomy 28:49

Joshua 1:8

2 Samuel 22:9


Catachresis

Top of Document

Related to Metaphor, but more direct; name-calling. "He's a dork." "What a doll."

John 10:14,15

Proverbs 28:26

Genesis 16:11,12

Exodus 20:5

Amos 4:1a [JB]


Onomatopoeia

Top of Document

The use of suggestive words for rhetorical effect, usually through the imitation of sounds. "Crack." "Tweet."

Numbers 20:11

2 Samuel 22:8

2 Samuel 22:13

2 Kings 23:26 [JB]

Jeremiah 46:9 [JB]


Interrogatio

Top of Document

Asking a question or series of questions in order to trap someone into a specific response or to make a point. A leading question.

Genesis 4:9,10

Exodus 16:28-30

Numbers 20:9-11


Dissimulation

Top of Document

Use of humor to emphasize the differences between two ideas, or to evoke a confession.

Genesis 18:11-15

Genesis 21:1-3

Matthew 6:7


Ecphonesis

Top of Document

A showing of strong or vehement passion.

John 2:13-17

Judges 3:7,8 [JB]

2 Kings 2:11,12 [JB]

Jeremiah 4:19 [JB]


Aporia

Top of Document

The art of creating doubt.

Genesis 3:1-5

Job 1:6-12


Personification

Top of Document

Giving human attributes to inanimate objects in a passive form. "That stupid bed."

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Isaiah 43:6

Exodus 10:21 [JB]

Joshua 10:13


Aposiopesis

Top of Document

Denial through pretending to conceal or omit what one really intends to declare. "We won't mention the fact that my opponent is a womanizing hedonist: it's not really germane to the discussion."

Matthew 16:1-4


Anacoenosis

Top of Document

Appealing to the audience for documentation or approval.

Exodus 19:4-6

Hosea 4:15a [JB]

Amos 2:10,11


Anastrophe

Top of Document

Inversion; holding the point to the end to increase the listener's expectations or to thwart a hostile audience.

Isaiah 6:9,10

Mark 12:13-17


Erotesis

Top of Document

A show of strong emotion in order to infuse energy or passion into our discourse.

Psalm 22:16-18

Malachi 4:5,6

John 2:13-17


Prolepsis

Top of Document

Enumerate our opponent's objections in our discourse, then answer them in order to emasculate them.

Amos 8:4-7 [JB]

Matthew 11:16-19


Epanaphora

Top of Document

Graceful repetition; either a word or phrase alone, or a word at the beginning of a series of phrases. Beatitudes.

Psalm 150:1-6

Luke 6:20-22


Apostrophe

Top of Document

The deliberate interruption of our current train of thought for a specific effect.

Numbers 22:7-10 [JB]

Zechariah 2:1-6


Periphrasis

Top of Document

Double-talk. Use of pedantic or excessive language in order to dodge an issue or question. Common in politics.

1 Kings 20:10,11 [JB]

Matthew 9:32-34


Synchoresis

Top of Document

Granting or yielding a point in order to win one.

Isaiah 6:9,10


Asyndeton

Top of Document

Omitting conjunctions, such as "and", "but", "however".

Exodus 20:6-9 [JB]

Exodus 34:6,7 [JB]

Leviticus 11:4-7 [JB]

Deuteronomy 6:4,5 [JB]


Polyasyndeton

Top of Document

Deliberate use of conjunctions.

Leviticus 6:1-3

Psalms 1:1,2


Oxymoron

Top of Document

Two juxtaposed concepts which apparently contradict each other, used to lend force to an expression.

Proverbs 18:21 [JB]

John 9:39

Revelation 22:12,13


Enantiosis

Top of Document

The juxtaposition of opposites used to mutually set off or enhance each other.

John 9:39-41

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8


Climax

Top of Document

Building to a key point.

Deuteronomy 26:5-9 [JB]

1 Kings 19:11,12 [JB]


Hypotyposis

Top of Document

Language that moves very rapidly; using as few words as possible to make a point.

Deuteronomy 26:5-9 [JB]

1 Kings 19:11,12 [JB]

Nehemiah 9:17


Prosopopeia

Top of Document

Giving human attributes to inanimate objects in an active form. "The bed said, 'You stupid human.'"

Genesis 4:9,10

Numbers 22:22-30

Job 17:12 [JB]


Alliteration

Top of Document

Repetition of consonants.

Ruth 1:16,17

Proverbs 25:15b [JB]


Epiphonema

Top of Document

The Epic Statement; a word or phrase that is intended to be remembered; a slogan or trademark. Usually used at the end of a discourse.

John 3:16

Genesis 1:3

Psalm 23:1-6


Euphony

Top of Document

A pleasant-sounding title, usually used to describe an unpleasant task or object. "Sanitation Engineer" for "Garbage Collector". Tool of the Politically Correct.

Micah 5:1 [JB]

Zechariah 8:3 [JB]

Revelation 22:16


Cacophony

Top of Document

Describing in loud or harsh terms, or the use of loud sounds or language.

Joshua 6:20

Revelation 6:12-14

Revelation 8:5


Honorific

Top of Document

Giving people or items a title. "The Right Honorable Mr. Quinton Smythe Jones". "Quinton Jones, Esq." for an attorney.

Exodus 34:6,7 [JB]

Numbers 24:17 [JB]

Deuteronomy 32:3,4

2 Kings 1:9 [JB]


Ideomotor

Top of Document

Self-suggestion (or self-motivation) that originates from within; usually self-revelatory.

Deuteronomy 32:40,41

Ruth 1:16,17


Prestige

Top of Document

Associate a cause, project, or product with a prestigious source, implying that consumption will impart qualities of the endorser on the consumer. Usually used with Transfer (below).

Leviticus 19:1,2

Luke 3:15-17

John 8:12


Auto-Suggestion

Top of Document

Self-suggestion that originates from without.

Judges 6:36-40

2 Chronicles 29:10,11

Matthew 5:48 [JB]

Mark 3:35


Direct Suggestion

Top of Document

Directly suggesting an action. "You must do such-and-such."

Genesis 12:1

Genesis 35:1

Leviticus 2:6

Leviticus 18:22

1 Chronicles 16:23,24


Indirect Suggestion

Top of Document

Suggesting an action by delineating a path and letting the subject arrive at the target suggestion through his or her own interest.

Exodus 3:11,12

Exodus 7:16-18

Deuteronomy 11:26-28


Negative Suggestion

Top of Document

Suggesting a negative attitude by example.

Leviticus 7:26,27 [JB]

Leviticus 26:21,22 [JB]

1 Chronicles 10:13,14

Psalms 5:4-6


Positive Suggestion

Top of Document

Putting something in a positive light, usually through praise or flattery.

Exodus 19:4-6

Psalms 40:1-4

Ezekiel 18:5-9 [JB]


Counter Suggestion

Top of Document

Countering an opponent's suggestion, usually before it is made.

Deuteronomy 30:17,18

1 Kings 12:16 [JB]

Matthew 3:7-10


Atmosphere Effect

Top of Document

Develop an atmosphere or mood complimentary to the message.

1 Kings 19:11,12 [JB]

2 Kings 2:11,12 [JB]

Song of Solomon 8:6,7a [JB]


Together Device

Top of Document

Fostering Unity; appealing to the harmonious whole, or as a harmonious whole. "We're in this together."

Leviticus 19:1,2

Ruth 1:16,17

Matthew 12:30

Romans 14:13


Common Ground

Top of Document

Appealing to those individual aspects we all share. "What do we have in common?"

Deuteronomy 6:4,5 [JB]

Deuteronomy 26:5-9 [JB]

Matthew 5:14-16


Rationalization

Top of Document

A neutral term: an emotional form of proof that we reason to explain an event, or warrant a position; to invent plausible explanations for (acts, opinions, etc.) that actually have other causes.

Judges 6:36-40

Job 37:6,7,...13


Repetition

Top of Document

Repeat an idea for effect. "Tell 'em what you're gonna tell 'em, tell 'em, then tell 'em you told 'em."

Leviticus 11:44,45

Micah 2:1a [JB]


Scapegoat Technique

Top of Document

Blaming others for unreconcilable problems in which they had no involvement, usually to escape one's own fault.

Genesis 3:8-13

Leviticus 16:7-10


The Big Lie

Top of Document

To tell a lie in such a way that it sounds like truth: the bigger the lie, the more credibility it exudes. "I feel your pain", "The Worst Economy of the last 50 years". OR To tell the truth in such a way that it sounds like a lie.

Genesis 3:1-5

Matthew 4:5-7

Exodus 32:3,4


Strategy of Terror

Top of Document

Using terror or fear to elicit a response or an action. "They want to take away your medicare."

Leviticus 26:21,22 [JB]

Amos 8:9-12 [JB]


Transfer

Top of Document

The concept that, by using a product (or adopting a position) endorsed by a desirable spokesman, some of the qualities of the spokesman - ostensibly gained by him through use of the same product - will transfer to us. Usually used with Prestige (see above).

Deuteronomy 10:18,19

Psalms 27:1

Mark 3:31-35


Plain Folks

Top of Document

Appeal to the basic elements of a population.

Deuteronomy 26:5-9 [JB]


Testimonial

Top of Document

Using the testimony of an endorser (either celebrity or average Joe) to promote a product; usually outcome-based (what the product did for him).

Exodus 19:4-6

Mark 14:61b,62

Luke 3:15-17


Band Wagon

Top of Document

Conscientious attempt through excitement or pressure to get people to support your cause, usually through a degree of coercion. "Get on the Band Wagon."

Ezra 4:12,13 [JB]

Malachi 4:4-6

Matthew 11:28-30


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