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TitleSynonymia and Synonymous Parallelism
Publication TypeIcon
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsPinnock, Hugh W., and Fernando Vazquez

Synonymia features the repetition of words or phrases that mean the same thing or have similar meanings and are almost always found close to each other in a scriptural passage, as are other repetitions that reinforce a particular message. Synonymia is a most effective tool of communication because of its repetitive nature. It allows the author to expound on the principles he is teaching and gives him exceptional flexibility. It occurs when two or more words have "the same general sense, but possessing each of them meanings which are not shared by the other or others, or having different shades of meaning or implications appropriate to different contexts." James Kugel writes that the second half of the simple synonymous parallelism is "not expected to be [or regarded as] a mere restatement" of the first half but was meant to "add to it, often particularizing, defining, or expanding the meaning, and yet also to harken back to . . . it." This expansion of meaning in successive lines of parallelism is often a poetic device of intensification, or it builds up to a climax.

[P]rophet-author[s] sometimes used a series of words to reinforce a condition, situation, or opening concept. Bullinger defines a form … as a gathering together or assembly of terms. He notes that [it] differs from synonymia in that the terms "are not synonymous, but may be of many kinds and descriptions." The words occur in the course of what is said rather than at the conclusion. According to Bullinger, "The use of the figure is to enrich a discourse, or part of it by enumerating particulars" that are part of a common grouping. For the purposes of this book, I have chosen to use the term synonymous parallelism … to refer to this particular form. Watson writes that "the main function of key words is to express the principal theme of a poem," or, in other words, the main theme of a verse or several verses.


An extract from Hugh W. Pinnock, Finding Biblical Hebrew and Other Ancient Literary Forms in the Book of Mormon (Provo, UT: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1999), 56-64.

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Citation Key1141