Sunday, June 21, 2015

Playing with Peripety

from Fotolia by Mr Doomits
I love the word “peripety.” Not only is it a literary tool, it’s just so fun to say - \pə-ˈri-pə-tē\

I can just say it over and over in my mind. It makes me happy for some reason.

I first learned the term “peripety” during a Beth Moore Bible study on the book of Esther. For those who know they know this word but can’t place exactly what it means, peripety is the English form of the Greek word “peripeteia” and means “a sudden or unexpected reversal of circumstances or situation especially in a literary work.”

Back in Aristotle’s day peripeteia was used more in tragedies. Greek tragedies frustrate the dickens out of me. I know those stories were used to teach people what is and is not appropriate behavior, but come on! Can people really be that obtuse? I guess history proves they can.

I like the way God used peripety in the Bible. When Haman is exposed for the really, really bad guy he was, and favor fell on the Jews to defend themselves in the face of annihilation – that’s just awesome storytelling.

And Saul, so determined to wipe the earth clean for God of those new followers of The Way who were blaspheming everything he “knew” to be true, was changed in a brilliant flash of light into who would become the Apostle Paul.

Now that’s peripety.

Peripety is so well orchestrated in the scriptures. Leave it to God to do it right. If you read through the two stories I mention above, you’ll notice these sudden turns of events are very organic to the core stories themselves. There are no unknown or surprise characters, simply changes of heart.

And quite frankly, the coolest part about peripety in both these stories is that it wasn’t just a literary tool – it’s history. Let’s not forget that what is words for us was reality for those who believed in God and His Sovereignty. And because God is the same yesterday, today and forever, peripety on the upswing can be our reality, too.

I know I can never master anything as well as God, but perhaps with His help I, too, can play with peripety in my stories and show in a memorable way the kind of change in a heart only God can make, and make it resonate with my readers. So let it be.

Humbly submitted by H.T. Lord


  1. Very good article. Thanks for the insight.

    Jeff Reynolds

    1. Thanks, Jeff! God is good. :)

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I agree, God is great at peripety! And it is a wonderful word. Thanks for sharing H.T.