Friday, March 02, 2007

On writing with and without computers and revelation

Over at the Greek blog I waxed rhapsodic about the literary and theological marvel that is Hebrews 1:1-4. That's primarily for Greekers; this is for everyone.

At first, I thought that pc's were a fad. They seemed that way at Talbot. But one of the first things that sold me on them was how easy it is to rewrite, and to cut and paste.

I'm a chronic re-writer. I re-do just about every post I put up at any of my three blogs. Often, this continues after publication. In the days before pc's, this was a pretty rough process. There was no such thing as just rewriting a paragraph, without re-typing the whole paper. It gave a lot of motivation for doing the best as possible the first time, and putting off a rewrite until I was pretty sure that I had all my rewrite ideas set.

Now turn with me to the literary marvel that is the Bible. Genesis, Psalms, Proverbs, Isaiah, Hebrews—even on a literary level, these are sparkling gems of creative genius.

But how did they do it? I thought about this, relative to Hebrews 1:1-4. How did Apollos do that? Had he preached this message many times, polishing the intro each time, until he had it just right? Did he crumple up papyrus scrap after papyrus scrap? Did he have his wife, his buddy, his junior pastor sitting by him, so he could say his thoughts aloud, rework them, rinse, and repeat? And then did he write, but only after he was sure he'd captured le bon mot?

We do know that obviously this process of thought and reflection was often part and parcel of the process of revelation. Some of the Bible was dictated; much of it was not. The sage pondered, reflected, and then wrote Proverbs 24:30-34 under inspiration. The Preacher did similarly in Ecclesiastes 12:9-10.

We learn that effort, thought, deliberation and art are in no way antithetical to inspiration. These were men under the direct, revelatory working of the Spirit of God — and yet they clearly brought the full arsenal of their God-given creative abilities to its formulation and communication.

What does this say to the sanctified sluggard to slaps together an ill-conceived sermon at the last moment, having whiled away his preparation time in empty pursuits (Proverbs 28:19)? Or, worse still, to him who slanders the Holy Spirit by implying that He can only give a message on the spur of the moment, and not—as He regularly did in the Biblical writers—confluently with the process of revelation, inspiration, and inscripturation?

8 comments:

HOOKEM said...

Godd stuff as always.

No Fluff Required said...

Amen and amen! There is a beauty and artistry to great preaching that can only be delivered by a man who knows and understands the text deeply. One can give me a manmade, thrown together organization of good words and I may or may not change. If you show me God, I am changed!

Patrick said...

Apollos? I thought the author of Hebrews was unknown?

Daniel said...

I'm inclined to think that you give the New Testament authors too much credit. People today can communicate faster, and expect comminications faster. But people cannot think any faster, so the polish of our work is diminished. I couldn't imagine a first-century church leader giving a dynamic weekly sermon. They simply did not have the resources.

If you were given a year or two to work on a five to seven page address, I would imagine that it would be far more polished even if it was simply held in your mind until the last month.

Pastor Steve said...

Yeah, I second the Apollos question, although I can't say I have a better solution to authorship. When you get a chance why don't you write an article on that...hehehe...

Pastor Steve said...

P.S. - As a pastor I barely have enough time to work on delivery and wording after I am done with the interpretation and application study. This is one great advantage an evangelist has who can preach the same message time after time. The grass is always greener....

Gavin said...

Apollos?. Spurgeon said Paul wrote the letter to the Hebrews.
(eg - search for "Paul's epistle to the Hebrews" in the Ages digital Library Spurgeon collection - ie in the expositions at the end of sermon #2722).

Al said...

I know this is a bit late in the comment section... But I thought you might like this video:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=6gmP4nk0EOE

It fits with your post

al sends