The church I pastor is located just two miles from a seminary that trains pastors for many denominations, including my own. One of the professors there is a friend who was a classmate of mine when we ourselves were in seminary several centuries ago. Not too long ago he posted something on Twitter that I thought would be worth discussing and which I saw as a good excuse to meet him for breakfast. The Professor suggested we meet on Thursday, January 22.What follows is what happens when the pastor tries to make a date to meet the professor.
The Professor suggested we meet on Thursday, January 22, to which I replied:
That Thursday is just about the only morning I CAN’T do breakfast. Normally, any morning T-F works great. How about another suggestion? My only conflicts would be 2/4 and 2/5.
So, the Professor shot back this counter-offer:
Which puzzled me and launched me into some exegetical fantasy at his expense:
Your exegesis of my email is lacking at ONE crucial point, Professor. Before I give you a low grade, I’ll give you a chance for a do-over.
Here was the crucial sentence:
“Normally, any morning T-F works great.”
Some commentators suggest that this was the work of a later redactor, but I think a case could be made that it was indeed a part of Randy’s original epistle. Some have suggested that the technical term T-F is a reference to a time period beginning ‘Today’ and extending to ‘Forever’ but most lexicons agree that a more probable understanding is a time period occurring repetitively beginning with ‘Tuesday’ and terminating on ‘Friday’. Given the former interpretation, Monday, 1/26 would in fact be acceptable. But if the standard lexical data is correct, then a suggestion of Monday, 1/26 falls outside the given parameters.
So, please redo the assignment and submit it by noon today for no loss of grade.
The Professor, getting into the spirit of the thing, parried my challenge with this:
So you think you divine my intentions? There is a conditional construct well-known to students of George W. Knight termed “contrary to fact.” An example would be an offer for an engagement on a day when the offeree is not available, such as “I know you can’t do it then (implied), but how about Monday?”
But granting the perspicuity of the original author, How about 2/27? Is 7:30 okay? 7:00 is fine, too. We could meet near or in the direction of campus.
In reality, I judged this to be an oddly distant date, but I put it in my calendar nonetheless:
The Tuskawilla Panera is fine. I think we met there before. And either time is okay. On a Friday, the 730 is slightly better for me.
There we were set. I thought. The Professor confirmed thus:
Let’s do 7:30 at Tuskawilla Panera on Tuesday, 1/27.
Puzzled, I responded:
You ARE making exegesis tough. Now we need to bring textual criticism into play, and I’m not very good at that. The earlier text, which should have the preference, says 2/27.
“But granting the perspicuity of the original author, How about 2/27?”
However, the later manuscript adds detail, Tuesday, and is more likely since the original proposed a date that was so far out.
“Let’s do 7:30 at Tuskawilla Panera on Tuesday, 1/27.”
Now, I judge the later manuscript in this case to be the more accurate, harking back more closely to the original intent of the author. That being the case, the Mitchell Hammock Panera would, in fact, be more convenient for me. And this being a Tuesday and not a Friday, the time does not matter. We’ll stick with 730 unless you prefer the earlier time.
Replied the Professor, on Tuesday, January 20, mind you:
Oh the glories of multitasking. Yes, I intended March 27…just kidding. I intended Jan 27. If that works, please absolve me and I”ll see you a week from tomorrow.
Which required this from me:
So, though a week from tomorrow will be Wednesday the 28th, nevertheless, I’ll stick with the weight of the given manuscripts and be at Panera on Mitchell Hammock at 730 on Tuesday, January 27th. Here I stand; I can do no other.
Which left us one exasperated Professor:
God help us all. Can’t believe it’s Tuesday already.
For all I know, I’ll be having breakfast alone tomorrow!