Monday, June 28, 2010

God writes poetry

Do you roll your eyes when I start to get enthusiastic about poetry?  Do you think you don't understand poetry or maybe even find it vague, long winded and pointless (If you fall under that last category you have to read Lewis Carrol's poem about poetry, it's hilarious).  

Well, you are not alone, but I think that (good) poetry is amazing.  It is beauty, it is raw emotion, it is instructive, it is funny, it is satirical, sarcastic, eye opening, rich and deep.  How can you not agree with me?  Well, if you still don't I have a few questions for you.

Q: How many books of poetry are in the Old Testament?
A: Officially there are 5 (Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon), however, most of the book of prophecy are written largely in verse so a better question would be:

Q: What percentage of the O.T. is poetry
A: 1/3 or 33%.  There are only 7 o.t. books that contain no poetry (Leviticus, Ruth, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Haggai, and Malachi)

Does that shock you?

O.k., let's move onto the New Testament.

Q: How much of the New Testament is strictly poetry?
A: I have no idea.  This one is harder to quantify as there are songs, hymns, benedictions and beautifully lyric passages throughout so let's just look at one of the most amazing events in human history: the birth of Christ.  We know that it was foretold in O.T. poetry but in Luke we find that the events leading up to His birth are heralded by some of the loveliest songs ever written (The Magnificat, Luke 1:46-55; The Benedictus Luke 1:68-79; Gloria in Excelsis Luke 2:14; and Nunc Dimitis Luke 2:29-32) and that's just for starters!  The rest of the N.T. is full of hymns, prayers, benediction, ect -- and don't tell me that the Beatitudes don't have a special flow and beauty to them! But let's get back to our questions

Q: How much of the o.t. is quoted in the N.T.
A: There are 283 direct quotations
Q: What is the most quoted book in the New Testament
A: Psalms, a book of poetry, quoted 116 times
Q: What is the second most quoted book
A: Isaiah, another book of poetry quoted 66 times which means that (and please please please correct my faulty math, it's almost midnight) 35% of all the O.T. quotations found in the N.T. are poetry

So I ask you, are you reading Leviticus, Ruth, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Haggai, and Malachi exclusively in order to avoid poetry?  Or, are you reading some of the most beautiful literature known to man and not fully appreciating it for what it is - pure poetry.

1 comment:

Jacquelyn said...

Bonus question #1: What is your favorite verse? Is it perhaps -- poetry?

Bonus question #2: Why would God write history and law in prose, and prophecy in poetry?

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