Poetry and prose function quite differently in a culture, particularly in a culture which centers around speaking rather than writing. Think of the difficulty of recording any dictated words in the days before the invention of shorthand (to say nothing of tape recorders!). A poem can be dictated, word for word; a poem has its own inner structure, its own rhythm and balance. In a poem, every word has its place. But prose, spoken at normal speed, can hardly be recorded as uttered. The best that can be expected is a gist of what was said, and that gist will inevitably depend upon the writing habits, the stylistic habits, of the scribe. Later in this chapter of our study we shall meet Jeremiah's scribe Baruch. For now, I think we can assume that it was he who recorded Jeremiah's Temple Sermon too. Perhaps he set it down years later, long after the event. I think this contrast between poetry and prose, and the difficulty of recording prose word for word, and the inevitable participation of the scribe's writing habits, explains the startling contrast in style between the poetry we have been studying and this prose.
- from page 63, Jeremiah: Spokesman Out of Time