Oh, the Beauty of Scripture!
All my life I have loved sunrises and sunsets. I once painted them in oils as a youth when residing in the Paradise of the Pacific. One of my favorite scenes to paint was the sunrise at Kailua Beach, the most beautiful spot in the islands and the town in which I was raised.
And yet, with all apologies to nature lovers, I feel that nothing is more beautiful to behold than the Word of God.
I shall not be annoyed if this be called bibliophilia. The Bible is indeed to be appreciated, though it is not to be idolized. I do love it – its architectural precision, its symmetry and grandeur, its prose and poetry, its depth and its simplicity. I once published an essay in the Westminster Theological Journal in which I exulted in the opening paragraph of the book of Hebrews, which is perhaps the most magnificent sentence ever written in the ancient Greek language. I likened it to the narthex of a great European Minster such as the Cologne Cathedral.
It is a narthex that ineluctably draws – indeed woos – the visitor to enter the sanctuary itself. The Son of God shines brightly in the prologue of Hebrews, and the message it contains is truly breathtaking.
The colors that were once upon my palette are no less beautiful when I read them in black and white in the passages of my Greek New Testament. The first chapter of Philippians is a good example:
Its words, like a napier, pierce the heart. I can remember almost the exact instant when I discovered how much I treasured the Bible. I was a 16-year old surfer living in Hawaii. Since that day I have learned to love seeing how the Bible is put together, from phoneme to morpheme to syntagmeme to semanteme to discourse structure – where do I stop? There is no greater thing to be said of God Himself than that He has spoken to mankind. And, in perhaps an analogous way, I am now incurably afflicted with a desire to speak about the truths found in the very Book that God spoke into existence.
To me nothing could possibly be more satisfying than fellowshiping with one’s Creator and Savior and Friend through meditating upon His revelation. I cannot refrain from saying as much in my classes, for there is no greater need in teaching than to point one’s students to the Great Teacher and away from oneself. To the person who is satisfied with mere human words, the Bible must appear as a paltry substitute indeed. But for the man or woman who has not been despoiled by the ephemeral thoughts of men, the Scriptures are deservedly the most important writings ever produced in history.
Having littered the world with millions of printed words myself, I would be the last to say that English literature is irrelevant. Yet in a very real sense that is exactly what I am saying. Nothing in my Hawaiian paint box ever spread with such a conflagration of scarlet as the great crimson cloud of the sunset of God’s love, as revealed in a Book whose one message is that the Creator loves the world so much that His own dear Son was willing to die for it.
What matchless beauty!
January 7, 2014
David Alan Black is the editor of www.daveblackonline.com.