December 17th, 2020

Time flies like an arrow ...

Good writing captures a feeling. Sometimes, in our daily experience of life, time seems to pass very slowly. At other times, it seems years pass in the wink of an eye. Effective narrative prose is written in a style that captures the same feeling and makes it immediate. For example:

"I lay down for a nap, I fell asleep, I woke up, it was 20 years later, everything in the world had changed ..."

This technique is known as a coma splice.


Genesis 10: The Table of Nations.


Chapter 10 of Genesis lists the descendants of Noah - the nations of the Earth. It is not a tribal but a universal narrative, something unknown in other literatures of the ancient Near East. Notice that for the first time in Genesis, the development is lateral as well as vertical; that is, all of the sons in each generation are named, and not just the firstborn.

Among the descendants of Cush (one of the sons of Ham) was Nimrod, described as a mighty hunter, and also the first person identified by the Bible as ruling over other people.

A descendant of Shem, for whom the Semitic languages and peoples are named, is Eber (also transliterated as Ever). The name is cognate to the word meaning "to cross over", and also to the name "Hebrew" (Ivri).