Polysyndeton: Shhhh. 

In verses 1-3 we saw the figure Polysyndeton used, and in more than one way.
In verses 4-8 we see Polysyndeton’s counterpart, Asyndeton, which is the absence of conjunctions. With Polysyndeton more conjunctions are used than is normal. With Asyndeton we have the opposite, or less conjunctions than normal. The “A” in Asyndeton means without, hence this figure of speech is used not to tie together the bundle into a whole of its parts as with Polysyndeton, but to carry us along quickly. It is commonly accepted that Asyndeton will present a “punch-line”, or “moral of the story” at its conclusion, which it does in verse 8. However, Asyndeton is the deliberate absence of conjunctions, not the presence of punch lines.

4 Charity suffereth long, [
and] is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
8 Charity never faileth:

Verses 4-8 contain other figures as well. In this sitting we will enjoy the Asyndeton beginning with “charity” in verse 4, and concluding in verse 8 with “charity”. “Charity never fails” not only ends verses 4-7, but it begins a new thought carried from verse 8 through verse 10, which we will look at next time.

Notice also the figure Prosopopœia, or Personification, which is ” A figure by which things are represented or spoken of as persons; or, by which we attribute intelligence, by words or actions, to inanimate objects or abstract ideas.” to pursue this figure further, see “Figures of Speech Used in the Bible” by Dr. E. W. Bullinger, beginning on page 861. https://archive.org/stream/cu31924029277047#page/n915/mode/2up

4 Charity1 suffereth long2, [and] is kind3; charity envieth not4; charity vaunteth not itself5, is not puffed up6,
1 ( Ἡ ἀγάπη, [agape] the charity [G26]; noun: a very special love from or for God, or one another).
2 (μακροθυμεῖ, [makrothumā] suffers long [G3114]; verb: patient perseverance).
3 (χρηστεύεται, [chrēsteuetai] is kind [G5541]; verb: to show oneself benevolently useful towards others).
(ζηλοῖ; ζηλόω [zeloi] envies not [G2206]; verb: (negative sense) to boil with envy, anger, hatred).
(περπερεύεται; περπερεύομαι [perpereuomai] vaunts not [G4068]; verb: boastful, braggart).
(φυσιοῦται; φυσιόω [fuseoō] puff up [G5448]; verb: inflate with pride).

5 Doth not behave itself unseemly
7, seeketh not her own8, is not easily provoked9, thinketh no evil10;
7 (ἀσχημονεῖ; ἀσχημονέω [aschemoneō] unseemly [G807]; verb: to act unbecomingly, out of order).
8 (ἑαυτῆς; ἑαυτοῦ [heautou] her own [G1438]; pronoun: herself, himself, itself).
This then addresses the noun “charity” in the Personification.

9 (παροξύνεται; παροξύνω [paroxoonō] easily provoke [G3947]; verb: to irritate, provoke to anger).
10 (λογίζεται; λογίζομαι /κακόν; κακός [logizomai/ kakos ] think evil [G3049]; verb/adjective: to make an account of wrongs; see various meanings at link).

6 Rejoiceth
A not in iniquity11, but* rejoicethB in the truth12;
but is the word δέ which is a disjunctive conjunction, however, it does not negate the Asyndeton in verses 4-8a. Verse 6 is one element of the figure, and within that element the conjunction is used to join “rejoiceth not in iniquity” with “rejoiceth in the truth”. This is the conjunctive aspect of δέ. It brings these two things together to show their difference. It does not join verse 6 with verse 5 or 7.
A ( χαίρει; χαίρω [khi-rō] rejoice [G5463]; verb: to welcome with gladness, etc. See various meanings at link).
11 (ἀδικίᾳ; ἀδικία [adikia] iniquity [G93]; noun: injustice or unrighteousness.
B (συγχαίρει; συγχαίρω [sun-khi-rō] rejoices [G4796]; verb: to take part in another’s joy.)
(ἀληθείᾳ; ἀλήθεια truth [G225]; noun: what is correct according to God.)

7 Beareth
13 all things*, believeth14 all things, hopeth15 all things, endureth16 all things.
All things with distinction to what is true according to God’s Word.
(στέγει; στέγω [stegō] to cover, hide or conceal [G4722]; verb: to cover over so as to protect others from the consequences of their faults.)
(πιστεύει; πιστεύω [pisteuo] believe [G4100]; verb: to operate the manifestation of faith.)
(ἐλπίζει; ἐλπίζω [elpizō] hope [G1679]; verb: to trust God at His word regarding what He has promised, but is not currently available to simply believe for.)
(ὑπομένει; ὑπομένω [hupomenō] endure [G5278]; verb: abide, persevere.)

8 Charity never faileth:
(ἐκπίπτε; ἐκπίπτω [ekpiptō] fail [G1601]; verb: to fall powerless or be without effect.)

That main course was quite filling, but this feast of figures is a smorgasbord, so we’ll just sit here at the table awhile and let our meal settle, then go back for seconds and enjoy!

By Ken Rossoll, Feb. 20, 2021.


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