I was talking about the Sumerians, a Mesopotamian people who are not just extinct but were all but forgotten about for millennia - unlike the Akkadians, a later people, who are also extinct but were at least referenced in the Bible.

Or is it "are referenced", present tense? The Bible, as in any of the physical copies lying around today, currently contains a reference to the Akkadian people. But the act of referencing them took place when the Bible was written, so in the distant past, suggesting past tense.

Which one is correct, or more correct if both are used?

  • I would say 'are referenced', as the Bible currently exists. – Kate Bunting Jan 27 '20 at 9:16

When referring to events in scripture, books, movies, etc., the present tense is always used no matter how long ago the work was written. Examples:

  • "The Akkadians are referenced in the Bible."
  • "In Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, Romeo kills Tybalt."
  • "In The Wizard of Oz, Judy Garland plays Dorothy."
  • Right, interesting! I take it that applies for any sentence with the work as the subject ("Batman Begins is based on a comic book") but not with the author ("Christopher Nolan based Batman Begins on a comic book")? The latter should definitely be in past tense, if my feeling is correct. – KeizerHarm Feb 27 '20 at 0:17
  • 1
    Generally true. Your examples sound right to me. As far as sentences where the author is the subject, I would say "Christopher Nolan directed Batman Begins" but "Christopher Nolan portrays Batman as a hero." – John Garvin Feb 28 '20 at 1:27

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