Dec 9, 2010 David Lang

Hebrew Scholars: How's Your Poetry?

For years I've been "reading" 'Twas the Night Before Christmas to my children. I put "reading" in quotes because I've long since memorized it, so that I now merely recite it and turn each page at the appropriate point in the narrative. Yet as familiar as I am with that delightful poem, I learned something recently about its author from our new Christmas Classics module:

Dr. Clement C. Moore, who wrote the poem, never expected that he would be remembered by it. If he expected to be famous at all as a writer, he thought it would be because of the Hebrew Dictionary that he wrote.

Yes, Clement C. Moore's "day job" was as Professor of Biblical Learning at the General Theological Seminary in New York, and his magnum opus was apparently a two-volume Hebrew dictionary—the first such work published in America. Yet his claim to fame comes not from his considerable scholarly achievements, but from a poem written one Christmas Eve for the entertainment of his children.


You preachers out there might find a good sermon illustration in that little accident of history. How many of us think we'll be remembered for our various accomplishments, when what we do for those we love may have a far more profound impact than what we do for a paycheck?

As for you Hebrew scholars out there, if you seek lasting fame, you might want to make sure you brush up on your iambic pentameter! ;-)

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