Something that has always worried me, from a credibility perspective, about both Jesus’ mountain sermons and Pericles’ speeches is their perfectness. That the writers in each case somehow, without any recording equipment besides their brains—and afterwards, perhaps, pen and papyrus—managed to capture what was said so convincingly word for word.
Without being too there-really-is-scientific-proof-of-a-man-swallowed-up-and-vomited-out-live-by-an-enormous-fish about the matter, though, I have to remind myself that, even absent miracles, such a feat of documentation is possible. Back in the early days of my acquaintance with my husband—then this weird farmer guy, a star of our University of Arkansas MFA program who was looking for a wife—I happened to sneak a glance at the notes he took in class one day and discovered what looked like the script of a play: names of people in our workshop followed by direct quotes of what they had said and how others had responded, seemingly word for word as each person had said it, only clearer and more impressive than I remembered.
I’m saying here I’m married to a Matthew or a Thucydides.