Friday, August 13, 2010

The Friday Figure

This week I will highlight one of my favorite rhetorical figures: Climax. 

Climax is a figure in which one creates a chain of actions or events, but before proceeding to the next link in the chain, one repeats the preceding link.  The figure builds toward a climax, hence the name of the figure.

This week's example of climax comes from Romans 8:29-30.

This one can be recognized in English (NRSV):

Rom. 8:29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family.
Rom. 8:30 And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified. 
The chain begins at the beginning of verse 29 with God's foreknowledge leading to predestination.  Then there is a short break, and the chain picks up again where it left off with predestination, leading to a calling, leading to justification, and finally coming to its climax with glorification. 

This is one of my favorite figures because of the rising tension, the repetition, and finally, the culmination in the climax. 

I ask just this question: did Paul just stumble upon this elegant figure?  Or, rather, was this a purposeful ordering of words?  If so, was it a conscious decision to use a rhetorical figure of speech?

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