The Bible: Beginnings

The Bible contains many examples of excellent writing that contributes to the author’s meaning. As we read, we need to learn how to engage in the writing techniques.

I’m going to examine beginning of Genesis as example.

Here are the first two sentences:

    In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.  The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALook how much information is shoe-horned into two simple sentences:

  • We know the time frame: the beginning of time.
  • We know the main character:  God.
  • We know his action: creating.
  • We know the setting: heaven and earth
  • We also know the problem: the earth was without form and void.
  • And a bit of a cliffhanger: darkness was over the face of the deep. Where did this darkness come from? Is it related to the deep? Is it related to the lack of form and void?

The next sentence adds a new layer of intrigue to a mysterious situation:

    And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

We draw more information with the addition of this new sentence:

  • God has a Spirit.
  • This Spirit was present on the scene (hovering).
  • Water is introduced.

Now, as readers, we have gleaned some information. The next step is to ask some questions:

Why was the Spirit hovering? Was there problem with the waters? Was the Spirit hovering in anticipation of an action by God? Or something unique in the water? Was there something significant in the water?

In three sentences, the biblical writer has given us a mysterious start to the greatest story every told. We’re drawn to learn answers.

We know the value of opening sentences. In Genesis, the writer packed much information into three sentences and each word contributed to the unfolding story.

Expert writing contributes to profound meaning and an alert reader can uncover meaning with good observation and great questions.


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