Zev Porat

Saturday, January 23, 2016


I had lunch with a dear friend a few days ago who told me that because of some of my PNN articles a person in his family stopped reading PNN.  After listening to my friend, I came to realize the culprit is hyperbole.  If you have read any of my written work you realize (I hope) I often use hyperbole.

"He is older than Moses."  "I haven't seen you in a month of Sundays."  "I am hungry enough to eat a horse."  "I will do that when hell freezes over."  "Your house is big enough to have its own zip code!" 

Hyperbole is, standing alone, an untrue statement (lie?) and/or a ridiculous or unachievable stated or implied goal/intent. It is an obvious overstatement not meant to be taken literally.  Typically, hyperbole incorporates some degree of humor as revealed in the examples above.  Sometimes, hyperbole does not incorporate humor, such as:
"Everyone knows that!"  "I could smell you coming a mile away."  "He never stops working."  "This agony is lasting forever."  "She's not worth her weight in salt."  "You look like death warmed over."  "They are all idiotic."  In these cases, the exaggeration of fact can express a frustration, irritation or complaint.  

Hyperbole without humor is harder to identify and can be hard for those who disagree or struggle with the premise to endure. Jesus said, "…eat my body and drink my blood."  (John 6:54).  The Apostle Peter wrote, "be holy (perfectly righteous) as God is Holy."  (1 Peter 1:16).  Luke wrote, "…hate your parents…"  (Luke 14:26).  

Paul wrote, "Wives submit yourself to your husbands in everything."  (Ephesians 5:24).  "...whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea...those things which he saith shall come to pass...."  (Mark 11:23).  "....(every) prayer of faith will save (all) the sick."  (James 5:15).  And, so on.  Standing alone, these verses (concepts) are untrue (lies?), ridiculous or obviously unachievable. In context, they are exaggerations intended to emphasize a truth.

The very nature of this style of expression mandates the reader or hearer understand the intent is to emphasize a point by exaggeration. The exaggeration is not intended to be taken literally.  Only understanding the point implied by the hyperbolic statement is the goal.  For example, in a previous article written for PNN I made the statement, "Democrats are evil."  http://www.ppsimmons.blogspot.com/2016/01/why-do-democrats-embrace-islam.html.  

Obviously, not every Democrat is evil.  There are very few things in life that are 100%.  However, the tone of the article was that the Democrat moral and political platform is ungodly and those who adhere to that evil platform are evil. 

When using non humor-based hyperbole, it is easy to offend and/or irritate readers/hearers.  Many of Jesus disciples left him when he said, "eat my body and drink my blood."   It may be easier to offend and/or irritate readers/hearers for one of the following reasons.

1.  The reader/hearer takes the hyperbole seriously (at face value) as if the exaggeration of the fact is being presented as the ultimate fact.  This could be because the written or spoken words are expressed poorly or it may be the reader/hearer does not or cannot comprehend well.

2.  The reader/hearer realizes the hyperbole effectively emphasized (gave strength to) the writers/speakers premise, with which the hearer/reader adamantly disagrees. Thus, instead of concentrating or responding to the premise of the conversation the individual responds to the hyperbole; a purposeful attempt to attack the messenger and avoid dealing with premise.

Using hyperbole can be confusing.  The Apostle Paul employed a lot of the hyperbolic style of writing.  Peter wrote that Paul wrote things that are "hard to understand."  (2 Peter 3:16).

Using hyperbole in a manner that is designed to identify justified criticism can sound or read like anger. A (my) summary and paraphrase of Jude 11-13 reads:  "Damnation to them! They worship money, rush to error on purpose, are rebellious, destructive, fearlessly evil, self-absorbed, full of empty promises, wrong, worthless, double-dead, have no foundation, shame-filled and wild-wanderers who deserve eternal hell."  After reading this, one might conclude that  Jude believes not one person in the group has a single redeeming factor and that Jude wants these people to go to hell; the sooner the better.

Non-humor based hyperbole can appear purposefully hurtful to the smaller percentage of people who do not deserve criticism.  Jesus called the Pharisees children of hell (Matthew 23:15) and accused them of great sins.  However, though not stated or clarified by him, he did not mean all of them. Nicodemus was a decent fellow and he was a Pharisee.  

I use a lot of non-humor based hyperbole in my writing.  I will attempt to use less.  Rather than "Democrats are evil" I will write, "A great amount of the expressed political and moral platform of the Democrat Party is pure evil."  Rather than, "Everyone knows that!"  I will write, "It seems to me knowing this is just a matter of some thought and the application of common sense."

I try not to use over-statement (exaggeration) unless the context blatantly identifies that the over-statement is for emphasis only. Apparently, I failed.  I hope my friend's relative will give me another chance. 

Author Image
Rev. Joda Collins
I make no claim that anyone else agrees with my opinions.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with your original statement. They are evil. I apologize that I can't apologize to anyone for that. It was what I meant to say. Everyone needs to watch Curtis Bowers video,"Agenda, Grinding America Down". We even see evil within many churches. Some churches where I live invited that Jeremiah Wright to speak at their church. He needs to be in church, with a ballgag on and sitting on the front row.