Speech Used in the Bible
Explained and Illustrated
by Dr. E. W. Bullinger
"The best handbook on figures of speech" is Walter C. Kaiser's evaluation of Figures of Speech Used in the Bible. "This book should be on every exegete's shelf alongside the Greek and Hebrew lexicons and grammars," recommends Kaiser, dean of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and author of Toward an Exegetical Theology.
The author sets out 217 distinct figures of speech present in Scripture. He gives for each the pronunciation and etymology of its name, and then a number of passages of Scripture in which it appears, accompanied by a full explanation. In all, nearly eight thousand passages are thus cited.
The figures of speech are grouped together in three divisions: those involving (1) omission, (2) addition, and (3) change. Those in the first and second divisions are further subdivided into those affecting words and the sense. Figures involving change include those that affect the meaning and usage of words, those that affect the order and arrangement of words, and those that affect the application of words.
"A figure," writes the author, "is simply a word or a sentence thrown into a peculiar form, different from its original or simplest meaning or use." Bible translators have, through inattention to figures of speech, "made blunders as serious as they are foolish. Sometimes they have translated the figure literally, totally ignoring its existence....sometimes they have taken literal words and translated them figuratively. Commentators and interpreters, from inattention to the figures, have been led astray from the real meaning of many important passages of God's Word...."
Five appendices and seven indexes render Figures of Speech, first published in 1898, even more valuable as a reference work.