Word of the day: paraleipomenon (pa-ra-lay-po-MEN-on).
Left over. Extra. Warmed over. Rehash. Scooted to the side because it’s nothing new – and ultimately condemned to be tupperwared in the back of fridge where it becomes an impromptu science experiment.
All these capture the soul of paraleipomenon.
Or try this one on for size: rechauffe (French – ray-shoh-FAY). A scrumptious beauty of a word that could be readily applied to most current theatrical releases. Rechauffe so beautifully captures that “haven’t we seen this before?” sinking question that hits you five minutes into the film you just spent ten bucks to see (the fact that there is a 2 or 3 after the title should usually be the first clue). You must so use this word the next time you see a film that is just that is just the latest rip-off of previous films. “It’s just so rechauffe.” (And yes, employing a French accent will only enhance your overall pleasure in using the word.)
Rechauffe. Paraleipomenon. Rehash.
That was the ancient title applied to what modern Bible consumers know as 1-2 Chronicles – at least in the ancient Greek translation of the “Old Testament” we know as the Septuagint. (The original Hebrew title for these books is debere ha-yamim = the words of the days).
Peter Enns observes in his latest book The Bible Tells Me So:
Chronicles was originally placed toward the end, if not at the end of the Old Testament – where it remains to this day in the Jewish Bible. But early on some editors (who even back then got in the way of good writing) got the bright idea of sticking Chronicles right after Samuel/Kings – probably to group similar books together. The early Christians went with that order, and these poor books have been trying to get noticed ever since. The fact that Chronicles was known back then by the title “The Things Left Over” didn’t exactly encourage people to read it. (In Greek it’s paraleipomenon – pa-ra-lay-po-MEN-on. If you’re looking for a different kind of biblical-sounding name for your kids, look no further).
Placing Chronicles after Kings was an inexcusably dumb move, if you ask me, and I think God should give this editor some sort of temporary afterlife punishment before entering his glory – like make him read the entire Left Behind series nonstop for a year…out of order.
Forgive the rant, but the shame of it all is that Chronicles isn’t mopping up what’s left over from Samuel/Kings. It was intentionally crafted to give a very different take on Israel’s past. That poor book is jumping up and down, demanding to be read on its own terms, not treated like Samuel/Kings’ annoying little brother.
And that brings us to the point of this post – to what jumped out at me when I saw the word paraleipomenon.
None of us are tired rehashings.
None of us are warmed overs.
We are not paraleipomena.
Except perhaps when we trying to be someone we’re not – or when we’re trying to be someone else.
Each of us is a book jumping up and down, demanding to be read on its own terms, not treated like the annoying little brother to be dismissed into the shadow of more regal siblings.
But how rarely we give such dignity to one another. Particularly in comment threads.
You’re just another liberal.
You’re just another conservative.
You’re just another religious nut.
You’re just another irreligious extremist.
You’re just another…
You’re just another…
Perhaps that’s the best rendering of paraleipomenon after all: “You’re just another…”
Been there, done that, encountered that, heard that – you don’t even have to open your mouth.
And then instead of being the “word of the day” uniquely positioned as the latest or even the last because you and your story deserve to be heard, seen and valued, you are grouped, sorted, categorized, tupperwared with those you most resemble (at least at first glance).
You are dismissed. You are oh so rechauffe. So paraleipomenon.
We deserve better from one another.