patty kirk

patty kirk lying down, getting up, sitting at home, walking down the road doing deuteronomy 6:7

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

word for word

I’m just about to start studying the Jesus’ mountain sermon recorded at length in Matthew the way Pericles’ speeches are in Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War, written five or six hundred years earlier.

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.


  1. When I was in elementary school, I had a friend who was generally considered to be stupid by all whose opinions mattered. Even so, I could pull a card from a stack of baseball cards 2 inches thick, tell him the player, and ask him their batting average or RBIs or whatever for any one of the years they played and he would almost always get it right. I guess it only takes one of those. That would be a cool gift to have. God is awesome and apparently gifts people in any and all of the ways necessary to accomplish his goals.

  2. A good memory used to be considered a spiritual necessity. People memorized huge chunks of scripture to prove it. It would have been yet another area of sin for me, had I lived back then.