Loud lamentations are heard today over the diminishing audience for good books. Even college literature majors are apt to become impatient with older literary forms, such as the epic and the medieval romance, that demand a certain aesthetic preparedness. Some classical writings that have been standard fare for years are dismissed as being too tedious to read when a synopsis or abridgment is available. A feeling for the beautiful seems to be waning in our computerized, practical-minded world. And new ways of spending our leisure time—especially television-watching—seem to be taking us further and further away from the riches of good literature.

This aesthetic impoverishment deprives us of a wonderfully rewarding dimension of the Bible. What the biblical writer says is admittedly of supreme importance, but the style, the way the words are put together, is an integral part of the truth, too. The literary artist is concerned with form as well as substance, with manner as well as matter, with style as well as content. Most of those who overlook the formal excellence of the Bible do so because they have not trained themselves to look for it.

Aesthetics has to do with form, design, color, harmony—in other words, with beauty. God is interested in these qualities. In Genesis we are told that when “the earth was without form,” God shaped it into form. The same Maker had the Tabernacle built using beautiful materials—gold, silver, and brass, with lavish curtains of blue and purple and scarlet. The high priest performed his work in garments of beauty. God, who weaves the delicate tapestry of a rainbow and causes the dewdrops to gleam on the whiteness of the lily, has put his truth in artistic form. Both in nature and in biblical revelation, ...

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