Condensing a verse down

It is quite an art condensing a text down to it’s bare, essential constituents. I have been working on one of the key verses from Numbers 14: 22-23.

Over two or three readings I try to find the key words for recalling this long sentence. Here it is in the NRSV:

Then the Lord said, ‘I do forgive, just as you have asked; 21 nevertheless—as I live, and as all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord— 22 none of the people who have seen my glory and the signs that I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and yet have tested me these ten times and have not obeyed my voice, 23 shall see the land that I swore to give to their ancestors; none of those who despised me shall see it. 

So working on the text from ” None”, there are essentially two main statements :

  • None of the people who have seen my glory and signs shall see the LAND
  • None of those who despised me shall see IT .

Taking these two simple statements create two vivid images. Two nuns. Now draw on nun memories e.g. a convent you stayed at, Mother Teresa, the Sound of Music !

I then look for words that sound like the text to prompt the actual text so you end up with this rather colourful story line :

Story line A

None = Nun

Glory and Signs = GAS

And yet = Ant’s nest

Shall see land = Chelsea Land

Story line B

None = Nun

Despised me = Spider

Shall see it = Chelsea

Place these two story threads into a series of scenes e.g. in a London convent – e.g. Nun 1 wears a gas mask she is trying to sort out an Ant’s nest in Chelsea. Nun 2 is interested in spiders.

Having got the two story lines clear in your mind you can add more secondary detail.

e.g. Nun 1 is connected to People – People looks like Pope so introduce him into your first scene.

e.g. Next to ‘Nevertheless’ – (the ant’s nest) there are two points – (1) the people tested him 10x ans (2) didn’t obey his voice

So using your imagination perhaps the Nun kneels on the ground and tests the ants ten times to see if they can go over a mound – she tries using voice commands but they don’t obey and so on.

Food for thought. Perhaps give it a go on a text you choose to learn. Do email me if you want some assistance.

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