- Why so young?
- Why short names?
- Why modern English?
1. Why so young?
He had a lot to do.
Elijah saw three kings whose reigns totaled thirty-six years.
- King Ahab, 874-853 = 22 years
- King Ahaziah, 853-852 = 2 years
- King Joram, 852-841 = 12 years
In the 9th Century, BC, most people died before their fiftieth birthday. So to find time to comment on the deeds of these three kings before he caught that chariot of fire, Elijah needed an early start.
The Bible makes no mention of Elijah’s years.
Some artists paint him with a white beard, but he started with pink cheeks.
Elijah did not drop into the scene stooped over a cane. Like the rest of us, he crawled before he walked.
2. Why short names?
These stories are fiction, not Bible, not history.
Modern historians use full names: George, Thomas, Abraham. Fiction sometimes mixes in short names: Georgie, Tom, or Abe.
Ancient historians1–who wrote Kings and Chronicles– used full names: Elijah, Nathan, Shelemiah. This fiction sometimes mixes in Lijah, Nate, and Shel.
Yes, short names do make them sound undignified at times. And they’re okay with that.
3. Why modern English?
Please let me know if words don’t fit the period.
Although Elijah has not discussed helicopters or syringes, “munchies” and “certifiable” did slip into early drafts. My friend, Ava, says I jolt her with “literary whiplash.”
So, in what period do we find the English of Elijah?
- Beatrix Potter (1910)? “Oh, do let’s.”
- Jane Austen (1811 AD)? “It is a truth universally acknowledged….”
- King James (1611 AD)? “I am sore distressed….”
I switched on the flux capacitor and sent the DeLorean back to 850 BC,2BCE for my agnostic friends but even before I tapped Elijah on the shoulder, I heard everyone speaking the language of their day — not English, but Hebrew.
So, this story is in the language of our day — not Hebrew, but English. I think Miss Potter, Ms. Austen, and KJV will understand.