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    Talk About Worshiping the Press...

    bible_branding.gifQuote: “Do they object to getting a bag of Quaker oatmeal or Tide detergent or an AOL disc?”  Paul Tolleson, official with the International Bible Society - Send the Light, in Time.

    Figure of Speech: argumentum ad fortiori (for-tee-OR-ee), the argument from strength.

    A Bible publisher wants to distribute New Testaments, specially printed to fit inside those annoying plastic bags that accompany newspapers.  The idea has generated some criticism — much of it, to the group’s surprise, from Christians.  Tolleson’s reply pleases Figaro mightily, for two reasons:  it uses one of his favorite argument tactics, and it’s delightfully knuckleheaded.

    The fortiori argument employs a comparison.  If the weaker case succeeded, it stands to reason that the stronger case will.  People don’t mind getting soap with their newspaper, so why should they object to the Bible?

    Because, Christians answer, the Bible is not a brand (Word-o-God — Accept no substitutes!).  Believers do not want their most sacred text tossed in the trash with supermarket fliers.

    There’s a moral here, O faithful Figarists.  Before you argue from strength, make sure you actually have an argument from strength.

    Snappy Answer:  “Does it come with sin redemption coupons?”

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    Reader Comments (6)

    I'm not sure "New Testament" is flashy enough. How about "New and Improved Testament"?
    August 6, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterBrian Backman
    And you should try their peppermint-flavored communion wafers, Testamints!
    August 6, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterFigaro
    Many thanks for your great service, which I enjoy mightily.

    However, shouldn't Argumentum Ad Fortiori be translated "argument TO strength", not "FROM strength".

    The Latin preposition for FROM is AB, and appears in words like abscond, abdicate, abrogate.

    But AD means TO, TOWARDS or IN THE DIRECTION OF. It appears in phrases such as AD NAUSEUM, ie TO the point of making you sick.

    Argument TO strength makes more sense to me in the case of soap vs Bibles, because as you say the items mentioned are given in order of rising significance or value: oatmeal, detergent, an AOL disc.

    In Mr Tolleson's logic, if people accept something small and "weak", like soap, then they should find it easy to go with the upward trend and accept something big and "strong" like the Bible.

    I'll be interested to hear what your other readers think. No doubt there are many among them who are far more knowledgeable Latin scholars, and even more pedantic, than me.

    August 6, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterKathryn
    Literally, you're right, of course. But the rhetoric scholars Figaro steals from--I mean, studies--tend to call it "from," in the sense of "strength argument." Or is Figaro talking through his metaphorical hat again?
    August 6, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterFigaro
    Why don't we put the Bible right in with the detergent, with message: "Our Powerful Duo is sure to both SPOT and WASH Your Sins Away" !
    August 7, 2007 | Unregistered Commentersophia
    Well, that's pretty much what St. Paul said. He talked about Christ cleansing the church by "washing with water through the word." (Ephesians 25)

    August 7, 2007 | Registered CommenterFigaro

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