This post will be a little different than usual. One, it will be shorter :-). Also, it will describe a concept found in Hebrew writing that we need to understand to study scripture. It addresses the concept of parallelism.
What is Parallelism?
Merriam-Webster describes it, as it relates to scripture as:
repeated syntactical similarities introduced for rhetorical effect.
In other words, it is when similar words or phrases are repeated for additional emphasis.
Five Types of Parallelism
There are five types of parallelism to be aware of:
- Synonymous Parallelism
- Antithetic Parallelism
- Synthetic Parallelism
- Emblematic Parallelism
- Climactic Parallelism
Only one is relevant to my post, synonymous parallelism, which was described in the opening.
Why is this Important to Know?
Parallelism is used throughout scripture to provide additional emphasis to a thought or statement. Here is great example of it.
The earth is the LORD’S, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods. Psalms 24:1-2
Notice how the earth is repeated as the world. Water is repeated as seas and floods. And again, continuing with Psalm 24…
Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place? Psalms 24:3
Here, God’s dwelling is described in two different ways. Yet we know the same place is being described. This leads us to the main reason for this post.
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. Genesis 1:26
Here is an example of synonymous parallelism. God said let us make man in our image. Image here in Hebrew is “resemblance”. In some places it means an idol, but not here. So God made man to look like or resemble Him. Next, He said let’s make man after our likeness. Again, in Hebrew, likeness means resemblance! This is a parallelism. The double emphasis is important to make sure the reader understands the meaning. Sometimes this verse is taken out of context to mean two different things. Some think image means God created man to represent Him. Others think it means to be like Him. This is contextually incorrect. There is only one meaning here and it’s very simple. We look like our Creator in form and appearance. Nothing more!
God’s Love In Design
We should be so flattered and enamored at the thought of God loving us so much that He created us to look like Him! We want so much to be more than what we are, we miss the reality of God’s grace toward us and affection for us. Of all the designs in creation, God chose Himself to model us after. WOW! So why take Genesis 1:26-27 to mean something else? Yet again, man’s quest to be like God leads us into error. God warns us constantly of having other gods before Him. But we still want to think He created us to be gods too! Big G or little g matters not. It’s still Satan’s lie to Eve (Genesis 3:5).
And that’s it! Questions? Comments? Need more? Contact me below or at [email protected]
“Parallelism.” Merriam-Webster.com, Merriam-Webster, www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/parallelism. Accessed 2017.