May people gain inspiration from the Bible for their hope, faith, and lives, but for writing?
Let’s see if I can make my point that the Bible can teach lessons about good writing.
Characterization and succinct writing from The Book of John
Jesus’ first major encounter with people (where there is actually dialogue) is when he meets the disciples. It’s important to note a few things about this meeting, so let’s look at the verses.
40 Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. 41 The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). 42 And he brought him to Jesus.
Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter[g]).
43 The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.”
44 Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. 45 Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
46 “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked.
“Come and see,” said Philip.
47 When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.”
48 “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked.
Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.”
49 Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.”
Did anyone else get the beautiful spiritual lesson of this story: God calls. Regardless of social status, skepticism, or even our own pride, God captures our hearts and brings us to Himself. We are awed by Him.
The writing lesson?
Within 213 words we meet 5 characters and get a small sense about them. 9 verses. I don’t know if anyone else is impressed with that, but I am.
The most information we get about any character in this section (besides Jesus) is Nathanael – a man we barely hear anything about for the rest of the epistle.
What do we learn about him? He’s honest. And can handle the truth, just as well as he can give it.
The Bible isn’t clear about what Nathanael was doing under the fig tree or even when he sat under the fig tree, but whatever chord Jesus’ words struck it went directly to Nathanael’s heart.
Economy of words
And characterization of Nathanael.
If you doubt it, just read the Psalms. 🙂
God calls you and me to follow. To honestly give our lives, hearts, and words – both spoken and written.
He calls us to something greater than what we are. He calls us to be His.
It’s the best ‘Call’ a writer could ever receive.