Pete & Repeat…

I grew up a dog person, which might explain why I didn’t meet the book Millions of Cats until I took a children’s literature class in college. I don’t remember the plot (except that it involved lots of cats), but I can still recite half the book to you – every other page or so was the same: “hundreds of cats, thousands of cats, millions and billions and trillions of cats.” It only takes a few pages to catch on, and then you’re in. You own the story (at least every other page or so), and it’s a delightful read-aloud experience you never forget.

This is Daniel 3. If you haven’t taken my advice to read the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego out loud yet, then do so immediately. Better, read it aloud with a group listening. I guarantee that long before you are done, everyone will be reciting half the story with you. (I recommend reading it in the NASB – New American Standard Bible.)

Biblical narrators like to use repetition, but none of them do it quite like the storyteller of Daniel 3. Before I suggest why this chapter goes gaga over repetition, let me give you a rather dull listing of the most repeated phrases:

The people coming to the dedication & hanging out at the furnace

  • v.2 “Satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the other provincial officials…”
  • v.3 “Satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the other provincial officials…”
  • v.27 “satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers”

The “call to worship” instruments

  • v.5 “horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music”
  • v.7 “horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp and all kinds of music”
  • v.10 “horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music”
  • v.15 “horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music”

The penalty box

  • v.6 “furnace of blazing fire”
  • v.11 “furnace of blazing fire”
  • v.15 “furnace of blazing fire”
  • v.17 “furnace of blazing fire”
  • v.20 “furnace of blazing fire”
  • v.21 “furnace of blazing fire”
  • v.23 “furnace of blazing fire”
  • v.26 “furnace of blazing fire”

And finally, the granddaddy of them all…

The king & his image

  • v.1 “King Nebuchadnezzar made an image…and set it up”
  • v.2 “the image that he set up”
  • v.3 “the image that Neb the king set up”
  • v.5 “fall down and worship the image of gold that Neb the king set up”
  • v.7 “fell down and worshiped the image of gold that Neb the king set up”
  • v.10 “fall down and worship the image of gold”
  • v.12 “worship the image of gold you have set up”
  • v.14 “worship the image of gold I have set up”
  • v.15 “worship the image I made”
  • v.18 “worship the image of gold you have set up”

Such an inefficient use of language! The storyteller could have saved a whole column of parchment if he’d pulled some pronouns (they, it, them, etc.) out of the ink well. Maybe so, but if he had, the story would lose its punch and we’d be likely to miss its point (which you’ll have to come back for another day…)

P.S. This doesn’t even count how many times “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego” are repeated. I can’t count that high.

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About wendywidder

For LOVE of the WORD
This entry was posted in Daniel 3, How to read the Bible, The Book of Daniel. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Pete & Repeat…

  1. Pingback: Let the Music Play | for LOVE of the WORD

  2. Pingback: Sticks & Stones & Unburned Bones | for LOVE of the WORD

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