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As I was listening to a preacher, he made the following statement . . . .
“David had his enemies, and he understood how it felt and what it meant to have an enemy since one of them was — his son, — his own son. You want someone who understands to tell us how to deal with it – how to face it and overcome it — how to come through it.”
When I heard this statement, it reminded me of what Aristotle taught in “Rhetoric” concerning amplifying a point or an argument.
Aristotle indicates that you can amplify a point or an argument.
“The facts having been proved, the natural thing to do next is to magnify or minimize their importance.” — Book three, part 19
What was said by that preacher – in enthymematic form — was that David understood what it meant to have an enemy. However, the entire syllogism was truncated — that is parts were unstated.*
Major Premise: The worst kind of enemy is a member of your family.
Minor Premise: David’s enemy was his own son.
Conclusion: David had the worst kind of enemy a man could have
*Only the minor premise is stated, making it a truncated syllogism or an enthymeme.
In driving the point home, the “argument” or point being made is that . . . .
It is one thing to have an enemy, but when it is your son, your own son, who is your enemy, that would qualify as the worst kind of enemy.
It is by including the fact that “his enemy was his son, his own son” which drive the point being made even harder. While all men may have an enemy in life, to have as our enemy a son — our own son — is the most egregious violation of decency and the most painful possibilities of betrayal. The point being made is amplified.
The speaker is intensifying the point which is being made by drawing in other factors and dynamics which are in play. Although those factors and/or dynamics are not specifically stated in the passage, they are still known and understood when it comes the biblical record. The speaker is bringing them to bear upon the account.
Note: There are biblical examples which illustrate this very method of intensifying or amplifying the argument.**
Now, there are other similar arguments that can be made, which would amplify an event, a person, the activity, a response, the reaction, the action, etc.
- The relationship – the connection between two individuals
- The warnings – the nature of the warnings given
- The place – where it happened
- The power – the strength or wealth given
- The advantage – the gifts and benefits given or possessed
- The rank – the heights which were attained
- The strength – the powers and abilities given or endowed with
- The gender – the unlikeliness/likeliness – advantages/disadvantages based on gender
- The experiences – after having faced/gone through
- The opportunities – the blessing / given positions / the chances to
- The cultural pressures – facing him-her-them
- The nationality – the ethnicity / tribe / background
- The educational attainment – highly educated or not
Examples Of Amplification
Let me illustrate some the possibilities of rhetorical amplification using the above list.
Statement: Judas betrayed the Lord!
Amplify: Judas — who had a personal relationship with the eleven other disciples – day in and day out — and daily with the Lord – for almost three years.
Statement: Belshazzar – king of Persia, lifted himself up with pride! – Daniel 5:4
Amplify: What is amazing, is that Belshazzar saw what had happened to his father, Nebuchadnezzar. That is what the Lord points to when addressing the sin of this King of Babylon.
**[Interestingly, the Lord makes this very argument. He argues the sin of Belshazzar is amplified because he knew what happened to his father. Nebucadednzer lifted himself up and was mentally insane for seven years, and his son saw that reality lived out in the life of his own family.]
Statement: Achan — in spite of the specific warnings given to them by Joshua, he still decided that he would take the gold.
Amplify: Now add to that — Achan did this in spite of what he had just experienced — the destruction of the walls of Jericho – after Jericho!
Rahab was a died-in-the-wool pagan of the “Jericho” culture. She had the least reason to turn to Jehovah. There were far more moral pagans than she was — who made an honest living. Despite her “immoral means of employment” and the cultural pressures which surrounded her living and lifestyle, she turned to the God of Israel.
Ruth had little reason for any hope of the future — her nationality — her gender — her association with Naomi — her unfamiliarity with Jewish culture — her previous marriage — it all spoke a message of a hard life ahead.
If anyone had experiences which one would have thought qualified them for a blessed life, it had to be the great Apostle Paul. Educated – Wrote most of the New Testament – Established churches across the known world. He is the only one who we know of, outside of John in the book of Revelation, who had the privilege of being transported to the third heaven.
Yet, read II Corinthians – as to all of the trials he went through. Read about his thorn in the flesh, which was not removed . . . . Here is a man the Lord used mightly who still faced terrible – painful – cruel trials of life!
Possible Mind Generators
Think of an individual person in the Bible who would fit each one of those.
Here are some of the possibilities for rhetorical amplification.
- The relationship – Judas / Absalom / Peter (a member of the inner circle)
- The warnings – Solomon (given him by David and the Lord) / Belshazzar / Pharaoh
- The place – At the gates of Gath / Just crossed the Red Sea / Jordan
- The power – Moses’ staff / Elijah Mt. Carmel
- The advantage – Judas / Mephibosheth / Elisha / Gehazi
- The rank – Joab / Ahithophel / Centurion / Nicodemus /
- The strength – Samson / David against Goliath
- The gender – Ruth / talking with the woman at the well
- The experiences – Paul / Peter-James-John / John
- The opportunities – Israel / Elymas / Solomon
- The cultural pressures – Rahab / Daniel / SM-Abed-Nego / a widow
- The nationality – the good Samaritan / Cornelius / Ruth
- The educational attainment – Saul-Paul / Stephen
** see Belshazzar example above, as well as Matthew 12:41; 12:42; 25:26; Mark 12:12; John 3:1-7; Acts 2:22, 3:10