Bible Authors And The Imagination -- By: Francis B. Denio
BSac 77:305 (Jan 1920) p. 83
Bible Authors And The Imagination
In the volume “Value of the Classics,” recently published by the Princeton University, the following statement occurs: “The Bible and Shakespeare apart, there is no more potent means of mental culture and spiritual uplift than is furnished by Greek literature.” It is to be desired that the primacy of the Bible as a literature thus recognized be also recognized in our institutions of learning, and that it be studied as a literature. There is no fear that its religious value will not take care of itself when a free chance is given to it.
The whole Bible is one body of literature. The New Testament is not a part of the Greek literature. It is not treated as such in histories of Greek literature. They do not always mention it. The words of the New Testament are derived from the Greek language, but its thought is a continuation of the Hebrew Scriptures. Both parts of the Bible arose in the same race. They both are the expression of one spirit and of one philosophy of life. They both came out of a life molded by the Redemptive Spirit of God. The Bible as a whole is the classical literature of Israel. It exhibits the more important marks of a great literature in the highest degree. It is a literature full of life and of power, personal power. This power is universal and permanent. It survives the shock of translation more fully than other literatures. It kindles intellectual activity. It calls forth a dignity of thought, a sobriety of taste, and a sanity of judgment to a degree unsurpassed by other literatures. It has power to create literatures.
In the divine economy the production of this literature was by means of the same mental functions by which other literatures have been produced. As in other literatures the matter centered around human experience and included the philosophy of that experience. The form and
BSac 77:305 (Jan 1920) p. 84
expression of the literature were due, as in other literatures, to the mental activities that we group under the word “imagination.” The words of Lowell are as true of the Bible as of any literature: “Imagination, as we have said, has more virtue to keep a book alive than any other single faculty. Burke is rescued from the usual doom of authors, because his learning, his experience, his sagacity are rimmed with a halo by this bewitching light behind the intellectual eye from the highest heaven of the brain. Shakespeare has impregnated his common sense with the steady glow of it, and answers the mood of youth and age, of high and low, immortal as the dateless substance of the soul he wrought in.”
The imagination has a twofold function: the inner activities of imaging to the self, and that of utteri...
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