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    Forecast of Comfort and Joy

    lamb.jpgQuote:  “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given… ” Isaiah 9:6, King James Bible.

    Figure of Speech:  prophetic perfect, the it’s- as- good- as- done figure.

    In baseball, it’s called “selling the call.”  Much of an umpire’s authority comes from his appearance of absolute certainty as he sweeps his arm, jerks his thumb, and yells steeeeerrrike!

    In the prophet line, it’s the prophetic perfect — using the past or present perfect tense to lend credibility to a prediction.  “My prophecy is so real,” the figure implies, “it’s as good as done.” That’s how the prophet Isaiah could announce the birth of the Messiah at least seven centuries early (assuming, as Christians do, that the Messiah has shown up already).

    “Is done” and “is given” are in the present perfect tense. But Hebrew scholars say that the past perfect — “has been born,” “has been given” — come closer to the original.

    Either way, it’s perfect.

    Snappy Answer:  “And his name has been called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”

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    Reader Comments (9)

    Speaking of the prophetic perfect in Hebrew, it's common for Israeli parents who are getting their kids ready for school in the morning to tell them, "Ma pitom! K'far meuchar!" Literal translation: "What, suddenly! Already late!" "Ma pitom" is an expression of surprise, usually meant sarcastically; there's no surprise little Shmueli can't find his left shoe. And "k'far meuchar" is usually said long before it's time to leave the house. So the prophetic perfect is alive and well in some households. What, another year gone by already? Ma pitom, k'far meuchar!
    Ciao, Bella
    December 21, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterBella Silverstein
    Prophetic language is interesting, and in my limited experience, usually misunderstood, especially where the Jacobian English of the King James Bible is concerned.

    For example, modern-day proponents of "prosperity ministry" don't seem to understand that "wealth" meant "a good life," not "money," and that "eternal life" or entering the "Kingdom of God" was a measurement of "abundance" and "quality," not a calendar extension.

    English 17th-century words have different, or even opposite, meaning when used today (e.g. suffer = allow, prevent = go before).

    To quote Joseph Campbell, "Eternity has nothing to do with time."

    Or better still, Thomas Aquinas: "Beware the man who has read one book." ;)
    December 21, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterRick
    And Thomas got sainted for it, too.

    December 21, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterFigaro
    Love the prophetic Israeli mother, Bella! It explains why you here "already" as a filler word in Yiddish.

    December 21, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterFigaro
    I always enjoy and am enlightened by your words. But, thanks, especially for this one.
    December 21, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterCrystal
    Thank you, Crystal. That's much appreciated. Figaro is moved shamefully by kind words.

    December 21, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterFigaro
    Hi Figaro. My name is Michael Castro and I am from Puerto Rico. I discovered your site while doing research on rhetoric about two years ago. Ever since I got hooked on rhetoric and being an English teacher have incorporated some of your "lessons"to my classes. I bought your book and it has a special place among my grammar and English collection of books.

    You have been an inspiration to me and I incorporated a section in my website where I use your model to write entries on rhetoric. My page is in Spanish but the translation of the section in case you decide to give it a look is "Rhetoric Radar". The page is in www.freewebs.com/eduradar/

    Have a happy and very merry Christmas
    December 21, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMichael Castro
    I hearken the sentiment of Crystal: thanks, Fig, for a touching post.
    December 21, 2007 | Unregistered Commentermstone
    May the "Good News of great joy to all" fill your heart and mind with peace and joy of that Jesus the Saviour of the world brings and this Christmas season reminds us.
    Hansraj Jain
    December 23, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterHansraj Jain

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