Of Sages & Prophets

The Grammar of Wisdom & the Rhetoric of Prophecy

The relationship of the passage of time to the flow of human speech is so obvious, perhaps, that we seldom think of it. In general, we do not speak in disjointed sounds. What we say has, in varying degrees, the quality of sequence. We link our words together in a certain order. That is to say, our normal speech courses its way through a sequence of time, each syllable falling into its place in the line.

Speech is also related to time in a more formal way through our verbs, especially in the past tenses of those verbs. After all, most things, when we talk about them, have already happened.

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Patrick Henry Reardon is pastor emeritus of All Saints Antiochian Orthodox Church in Chicago, Illinois, and the author of numerous books, including, most recently, Out of Step with God: Orthodox Christian Reflections on the Book of Numbers (Ancient Faith Publishing, 2019).

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