“In the beginning was the Word”
One of the reasons I love the Bible as literature is found in Isaiah 6. This chapter is 13 verses long: 12 verses of awesome and glorious ~ God on His throne in heaven, seraphim with six wings praising God; the temple of heaven shaken by God’s glory… And a vision of cleansing ~ Isaiah’s, yours, and mine. Realizing our uncleanness, confessing that, becoming cleansed and then being fit and eager to serve God’s purpose for us here on earth. It is magnificent.
And then there’s that other verse in chapter 6. Actually it’s not even an entire verse. It’s the opening words of verse 1, and it’s outside that pattern of glorious and magnificent: “In the year that King Uzziah died…”
Not much there, right? At least not in comparison to the beauty that follows.
And yet it’s crucial. This is Isaiah combining the amazing and unbelievable with the earthly. Like a reporter, he first answers the question of when the amazing thing happened. It grounds and verifies the loftiness that follows.
Logos, pathos and ethos. Aristotle said that these are the elements of persuasive thinking: reason, passion and the credibility of the speaker. They are all there.
Now bring your attention to John 1, and you’ll see that same wonderful, informative and inspirational combination.
John is writing a biography, right? The public years in the life of a man ~ God made Man. But in the opening passages of chapter one, John intersperses the basic with the infinite… the earthly with the heavenly.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…” Four verses that require focus and re-reading and pondering.
And then a bit of earthly: an introduction to John the Baptist, sent from God to bear witness to the coming of the Light of the World.
That Light? “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him…” (v 10) “and those who believe are born not of the flesh, but of God.” (v 13)
John the Baptist bore witness of Him, that Word who became flesh and dwelt among us (v 15,14).
“And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace…” (v 16)
“Now this is the testimony of John…” (v 19)
You see what I mean? Poetry and Prose and Promises. History and Prophecy. The hard-to-stomach and the hard-to-believe, sometimes back to back.
He tells us less than we want to know sometimes, but everything we need to know. It’s all there. So read your Bibles, people!