narrative speed

The ratio of story action to the time taken to tell it is the speed of the narrative. A lot of storytime told briefly moves fast. Changes in narrative speed may indicate significant events or speech.

Biblical narrative often contains conversations told as direct speech, such scenes move at the pace of the action. Most accounts move a lot faster, eg. Gen 32:22-23:
"He (Jacob) got up in the night and took his two wives, his two maids and his eleven children, crossed the ford of the Jabbok River. He took them and sent them across the stream, along with everything he had.

Despite the listing of people and the repetition, which slow the action, the telling still happens much faster than the action described.

The quantity of 1 to 1 action, where the telling and the told move at the same speed also influences our perception. Small snippets of 1 to 1 action (such as direct speech) in a narrative that moves quickly forward, have less effect on the subjective speed than a larger spread of direct speech.

Discription (which is rare in biblical narrative) can slow the telling so that it can take longer than the action.


This page is part of the Hypertext Bible Commentary - Amos,

© Tim Bulkeley, 1996-2005, Tim Bulkeley. All rights reserved.