Tropes in the bible: Checkhov’s Gun

Checkhov’s gun” means not including unnecessary elements in a story. You don’t detail what will happen if you eat of the tree in Eden unless you’re foreshadowing that you will use the tree later in the story. Jesus told Peter he will deny him 3 times as foreshadowing, except Christians call the trope prophecy.

This isn’t proof that events didn’t flow from one to another, but it makes sense for these stories to have become streamlined in the retellings. We don’t even know the little details such as how Jesus looked or talked, or what David’s palace or the pharoh’s palace looked like. The writing is usually told by an omniscient narrator, and yet it is very simple, and not very photographic compared to a modern English novel. Less detail makes for a faster story, but it also makes the creator of the universe aloof, as though neither he nor Moses saw human characters as particularly distinct from each other.

The bible is full of characters that interact without faces or jewelry. Why doesn’t God care to accurately educate us about ancient history, pharoh’s name, or how the Egyptians dressed and what they wrote? Checkhov’s gun shows the author’s intentions; dropping a few verifiable facts about Egyptians to convert future archaeologists and appease our curiosity was less important to God than including more lying wives and drama.

God is a grade A story-teller, but a grade F documentary maker.

 

 

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