It’s not backwards.

Tonight was another late night for me coming home. I attended a lecture at which the brilliant Dean of St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary called our attention to a striking passage from the Book of Psalms. Specifically, he quoted Psalm 103 (numbered 104 in modern translations).

29: […] thou shalt take away their breath, and they shall fail, and shall return to their dust.

30: Thou shalt send forth thy spirit, and they shall be created […]

(SIDE NOTE: This poem is older than the book of Genesis. The book in which God says, “Let there be this,” and there is this, and “Let there be that,” and there is that, effecting all reality by declaring it into existence, and then… “Let us make man”—he says not an injunction, but an announcement of his plan. And it’s the first time what he says is not followed by, “…and there was X.”)

Now, why is this passage far more interesting than it looks? Because it’s not backwards. When you read it, you change it in your mind, perhaps involuntarily, automatically, to understand verse 30 first, and then verse 29 second. Chronological order. But that’s precisely the opposite of the chronological order.

It’s not backwards.

It’s already in chronological order.

Thanks, dear reader, for being puzzled with me tonight.


About philokalos

Philologist, historian, and lover of great books, I started this blog to keep myself alert to the beauty of what I see amid the demands of my work.
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