Saturday, July 29, 2017

Gregisms and Jesusisms

Way back in the mid to late 90's, I used to listen to the Bible Answer Man with Hank Hanegraaff.  After a while of listening to him, I noticed that he had certain catch phrases he would frequently use that were peculiar to him.  One of them was, "The resurrection is the capstone in the arch of Christianity."  And he would use the phrase "pale of orthodoxy" a lot.  It's been over 15 years since I regularly listened to him, and I still remember that. If I thought about it, I suppose I could remember more.

I also started listening to James White way back around the end of the 90's or the beginning of the 2000's.  I noticed that he, too, had certain catch phrases he would use frequently.  The one that sticks out most in my mind is, "in any way, shape, form, or fashion."

I haven't listened to Frank Turek as much, but one thing I noticed about him is that whenever he gives a talk, an interview, or anything, he never fails to say, "I'm from New Jersey."  That has always struck me as funny.  After I started noticing it, I would point it out to people.  Then the next time I'd hear something from Frank, he would again say, "I'm from New Jersey."  It still makes me laugh every time he says it because it's so predictable.

Greg Koukl has been my favourite Christian radio host for most of these years.  I've listened to him more anybody else.  I became so familiar with how he spoke that I started keeping a list of what I called "Gregisms."  Here are some of his catch phrases:

After a fashion
A sense in which
As it were
Such as it is

I've come to the conclusion that just about everybody has little peculiar ways of saying things or particular words they use regularly.  If you listen to them long enough, you start noticing them.  It's especially true of people who give public talks.

I don't give public talks, but I've noticed that I, too, form habits of using certain words and phrases in things I write.  It changes from time to time, though.  One friend pointed out to me a long time ago, that I said "presuppose" a lot.  I don't do that anymore.  Sometimes my speech habits get on my nerves, and I make a conscious effort to change them.  One thing that has gotten on my nerves more than anything and that I haven't been able to break out of is my habit of saying, "little."  Whenever I watch one of my own YouTube videos, and I catch myself saying, "little this," or "little that," it makes me cringe.  The most recent habit of mine that I've noticed is that I'll say something like, "Not only. . ., but also. . ." or, "It's not that. . ., but. . ." or "It's not because. . ., but because. . ." That one is starting to annoy me, so I'll probably try to change it.

Anyway, all of this got me to thinking about Jesus.  If Jesus is like most people, he probably has his own catch phrases, and I wondered if anybody had ever done a study on it or if there's enough in the gospels to pick up on patterns.  I have not gone through the gospels with a fine-toothed comb to look into this, but just off the top of my head, there are a couple of things I can think of.  One of them is that Jesus will often say, "Truly I say to you," or "Truly truly. . ."  But he will also say, "The kingdom of God is like. . ." because most of his parables are about the kingdom of God.

These must be Jesusisms because the authors of the gospels never use these phrases, and nobody else in the New Testament does. But Jesus is quoted as using them in all the gospels.  From an historical point of view, it seems like the best explanation is that Jesus really spoke that way.  His followers remembered it because they listened to him so much.  Anybody who wanted to write an account of things that Jesus said would probably include some of those phrases. They contain his voice.

I'm curious if there are any more Jesusisms one might notice if they went looking for them.  Maybe the next time I go through the gospels, I will.  If you know of any, leave a comment.

*I recently binged watched all nine seasons of Seinfeld and noticed that Elaine Benes also says, "Lookit."  I noticed that one because it's my favourite Gregism.


At 7/29/2017 10:41 PM , Anonymous Watson said...

Bill Craig often says "Ah!" when he's giving a response.

I can't think of any other Craig-isms.

At 7/30/2017 9:27 AM , Blogger Sam Harper said...

Oh, another thing Greg says is, "Just because it's possible doesn't mean it's reasonable to believe," and "Some of the most brilliant people make some of the most foolish mistakes in thinking when it comes to religion." I may not have the wording of that last one exact.

At 7/30/2017 8:38 PM , Anonymous scbrown said...

Well, Jesus often started with a question. So, perhaps this Jesusism,


Also (...i've not read it...) "...Jesus asks many more questions than he answers. To be precise, Jesus asks 307 questions. He is asked 183 of which he only answers 3. Asking questions was central to Jesus’ life and teachings. In fact, for every question he answers directly he asks—literally—a hundred. Jesus is the Question considers the questions Jesus asks—what they tell us about Jesus and, more important, what our responses might say about what it means to follow Him. Through Jesus’ questions, he modeled the struggle, the wondering, the thinking it through that helps us draw closer to God and better understand, not just the answer, but ourselves, our process and ultimately why questions are among Jesus’ most profound gifts for a life of faith...."


At 8/03/2017 12:46 PM , Blogger Sam Harper said...

Another Samism:

"It turns out that. . ."
"If it turned out that. . ."

At 9/05/2017 7:16 PM , Blogger Sam Harper said...

I was just listening to the Dividing Line and noticed another White-ism. He uses the words, "fundamental," and "fundamentally" a lot.


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