THE GREATEST OF GREAT LITERATURE


You are going to enjoy this one!  Submitted by our own Lee Pierce.  This is awesome! -anita

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I’ve always been a reader. I had two minors in college: one was philosophy and the other was English literature. I’ve always enjoyed reading old and vaunted examples of great literature. Beowolf, written in the early 8th century, Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, Homer’s Iliad and The Odyssey, Sir Thomas Malory’s Morte Darthur (The death of King Arthur), the Epic of Gilgamesh, Aesop’s Fables, Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War, the writings of Aristotle, Plato, Socrates, Sophocles, Euripides, along with  Josephus’ The Jewish War, Augustine, and many, many more.

One great writing, I regret to say, I never spent much time on when I was younger, however, was the Bible. All of the great texts cited above were the product of a single author, each penned in his lifetime. Conversely, the Bible has no such author uniformity. The Bible was written over some 1,500 years, by some 40 authors, and comprises 66 books. Interestingly, most of the authors never knew one another personally.

What to me is even more astonishing, the authors all came from widely divergent socio-economic backgrounds. This fact alone would tend to suggest that the writing style, vocabulary employed, plot sophistication, and other literary attributes would be tremendously different. Moses was a highly educated political leader, Solomon a great king, and Joshua a great military general, but Amos was a shepherd, Peter a fisherman, and Matthew a tax collector. The biblical books were written on three different continents (Africa, Asia and Europe) by authors in vastly different geographic and circumstantial environments. Moses in the desert, Jeremiah and Paul in prison, Luke during his travels, John during his exile on Patmos, and David while on the run in the mountains and, later, in his palace. Yet, despite all this diversity, the Bible flows or, as the kids say, “It hangs together.” I can go from reading Psalms to reading a long, scholarly passage in Romans and it flows nicely and I’m not put off by the different styles one bit.

The writers of the Bible utilized many literary forms to tell their stories. Lyric poetry (the Psalms), epic poetry (Genesis), dramatic poetry (Job), historic narrative (Samuel, Kings and Chronicles), patriotism (Esther and Daniel), practical wisdom (Proverbs), philosophy (Ecclesiastes), moving depth (Isaiah), short stories (the Gospels), letters (NT epistles), and even mysticism (Revelation). Yet form notwithstanding, every portion of the Bible cross references numerous other portions of the Bible. I find that so amazing!

As I read various passages of Scripture, I am constantly enthralled with the wisdom, the profundity, the beautiful literary flow of the words used. Some examples (thousands more, literally, could have been chosen):

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps—Prov 16:9

They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint—Is 40:31

He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end – Eccl 3:11

I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well – Ps 139:14

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life…Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?—Mt 6:25-27

For when I am weak, then I am strong—2 Cor 12:10

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword…discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart Heb 4:12

Can a leopard change his spots –Jer 13:23

The Lord sought him a man after His own heart – 1 Sam 13:14

A soft answer turns away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger—Prov 15:1

Do you not understand that everything that goes into the mouth passes into the stomach, and is eliminated? But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. Mt 15:17-18

Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” – Lk 5:31-32

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see—Heb 11:1

No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.—Mt 6:24

 

We are so blessed that God saw fit to give us His words… words of truth, love, wisdom, and blessing. The greatest of man-made literary efforts, as entertaining and insightful as they might be, pale before the words given to us by our heavenly Father. Words of life…words of Jesus. Do be sure to read them—your life depends on it!

Lee Pierce

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