My favorite thing about the Bible may surprise you

It’s the beauty.

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Images that burst into color in my mind’s eye. Phrases that stop me cold.

But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays. And you will go out and frolic like well-fed calves. Malachi 4:2

I feel myself already warming in the healing rays of that sun, playing like a frolicking calf.

Or consider this proverb:

There are three things that are too amazing for me, four that I do not understand:   the way of an eagle in the sky,   the way of a snake on a rock,   the way of a ship on the high seas, and the way of a man with a young woman. Proverbs 30:18-19

Such skillful phrasing that is accompanied by such luminous images. Yes, in translated English, but surely the Hebrew must be beautiful to inspire such poetry in English.

Notice the perfect rhythm in this promise the Lord makes to Israel:

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;   and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.   When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.   Isaiah 43:2

The images are vivid with color, palpable with feeling. The words, even in translation, make me catch my breath.

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And yet I will show you the most excellent way. If I speak in human or angelic tongues, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging symbol. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship, that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.                   1 Corinthians 12:31-13:3

Can you not hear the symbol clanging? The truth in the words is amplified by the beauty of them.

No matter how long I have read the Bible, its beauty has continued to capture me. It is not only that it is deep and true and wise, but that it reveals its depth, truth, and wisdom with beauty. Indeed, there is truth and wisdom in the beauty itself.

© Laura Goetsch and Thinking About Such Things, 2017

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