Who says what in dialogue?

Who says what here in dialogue?
Who says what here in dialogue?

Last Friday, I mentioned a couple different ways to mark up your bible text in the Friday Weekly Wrap-up Podcast. Here is another way to mark up your text: color coding who says what in narrative dialogues.

Keeping track of who says what in dialogue

How does color coding dialogue help you understand the Bible better? Take a look at the passage above.

This passage describes the moment when God gives Moses his mission and purpose in life: freeing the Hebrew people from slavery and bondage in Egypt. This is an important moment in the history of scripture. Jews and Christians will look back on this moment as part of salvation history, and who says what in this dialogue, and use it as a model of our relationship with God in His mission to save the world from sin and death.

Is it His Mission or Our Mission?

Who owns and is responsible for this mission of salvation? Our answer to this question will influence our own responsibility and actions in the mission of salvation. Some people believe salvation is God’s work alone and our role is to sit back and watch God do that work. Others believe our role is to record and recount God’s work of salvation. On the other extreme, there are people who believe salvation is an idea that God came up with and handed over to us to accomplish. This concept or responsibility for salvation is brought to the front in this dialogue.

Who is claiming and giving responsibility for salvation here? Can we tell by who is speaking in this narrative dialogue? I know many of us want to default to God, because that is what we have been taught. What does the text actually say though?

This particular passage has a lot of God speaking with some interjections from Moses. Reading it straight through, it could get confusing, especially near the end, regarding who says what in this dialogue. The reason is that Moses asks God what to say, and God is giving Moses the words to use. Color coding the dialogue can help you distinguish it visibly here.

Who says what to whom in this dialogue?

At first glance, it looks like there may be an inconsistency in this mission. At the beginning of the passage, God says it is Moses’ job to go down to Pharaoh and bring God’s people out of Egypt, into the Promised Land. Later, when God gives Moses the words to say to the Hebrew people, God tells Moses to give God the credit as the one who will do the work. Is that inconsistent?

Maybe. Remember this is dialogue, not just a list of instructions. It matters who the speaker and who the listener is when we regard the wording. For Moses, God says the mission belongs to Moses (on behalf of God). For the Hebrew people, it is God who will be credited with the responsibility of this mission.

Is that fair? Is God taking credit for something He is asking Moses to do? Not necessarily. When Moses questions “Who am I?” to be the one doing this work, God tells him not to worry, that God Himself will be with him. It is a co-laboring effort, this mission of salvation, and this text shows that. It also shows that we, as agents of God’s work don’t claim the credit ourselves. We work on behalf of God.

Where has God challenged you to work alongside Him?

What kind of questions do you have for God as He invites you into His mission?

What do you see here?

I’d love to hear what you see in this passage. You can comment below or send a text to 859-636-6965 for a faster response. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on our work alongside God.

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