I can hear the wheels turning in most of your minds, “hypo what?!”
Now don’t feel bad if that word isn’t immediately familiar. Neither Webster’s nor Dictionary.com have a listing, but, according to Ultius.com, “hypophora is a figure of speech wherein a writer raises a question and then immediately answers it.” It differs from a rhetorical question in that a rhetorical question is not intended to be answered.
This literary technique has been used in a variety of applications, from famous speeches from the likes of Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy to writers like William Shakespeare and E.B. Cummings.
In her book, Charlotte’s Web, E.B. Cummings character Charlotte responds to a question concerning her unmerited kindness towards Wilbur the pig, providing for the reader an excellent example hypophora, as well as a wonderful message on making the most of life:
“After all, what’s a life anyway? We’re born, we live a little while, we die. A spider’s life can’t help being something of a mess, with all this trapping and eating flies. By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heaven knows anyone’s life can stand a little of that.”
Yes, our dear Charlotte, all of us can certainly stand a little of that.
Good attorneys will often employ hypophora, asking and responding to their opposing counsel’s questions before they ask them, and in fact we’ve seen the Apostle Paul do exactly that back in Romans 3:27, “Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of work? No, but by the law of faith.”
As we continue our series, Romans: The Book of the Power of the Gospel, Paul will once again employ hypophora as we consider “The Other Side of Salvation: Dead to Sin, Alive in Christ”.
We look forward to seeing you at 9 and 10:45; grace and peace to you in the week ahead!
Below are graphics with information attached.
Click on the graphic to find out more information.