THE VALUE OF REPETITION | Newsflash — Yes, the Bible often repeats itself! Yeah, I’m talking about throughout the scriptures; we’ll read the same stories and the repetitive phrases.
One of the most potent storytelling tools is repetition. Some of our greatest orators have used repetition to deliver their messages. Let us not forget Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Hearing “I have a dream” repeatedly helped us understand the contents of his dream. Hearing biblical passages and not imposing my wrong notions on them is a skill I am working to build. But, like any other useful biblical interpretation tool, exegesis takes time to learn. As part of my learning process, I recently read a section from David A. deSilva’s book, “An introduction to the New Testament: Contexts, Methods & Ministry Information” (pages 808–810). deSilva did a fantastic job of sharing great examples and ways to explore the “inner texture” of a passage.
Understanding repetition and inner texture of passages come from both large and small scales. The teachings, miracles, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ in the first four Gospels are repetition on a large scale. All four books emphasize the importance of a person, them, or event. The use of repetition through all four Gospels brings greater credibility than without repetitiveness. By using repetitiveness, the authors were able to provide different perspectives to tell Jesus’ story.
On a small scale, we will see in the Bible repeated ideas, phrases, and themes. An example is in Exodus 6:7 and God’s promise to Moses. This same concept is repetitive through the Old Testament through Genses 17:7, Numbers 15:41, Leviticus 26:12, Jeremiah 7:23, and Ezekiel 36:28.
One of the critical points deSilva makes is that oral delivery and aural reception are the New Testament text’s primary components. In building my exegetical skills, I find myself paying closer attention to the many preachers I listen to and how, as deSilva points out, they engage in the repetition of important words or phrases from the text. I am learning that understanding the biblical author’s larger rhetorical and ideological goals is enhanced by verbal repetition.
Repetition and progression throughout biblical works bring together situations that we may typically keep apart. Repetitive texture helps to reveal the macro values, convictions, and beliefs of the passages. I believe that we receive a better understanding when we receive a repetition of the best truths. — #ToddCPittman