In the beginning was the word.
- John 1:1
Revolutionary, controversial, hated by some but loved by many more, Jesus could always be counted on to attract a crowd. And crowds - noisy, cheering crowds - there were as Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem a few days before the crucifixion.
Teacher, demanded the non-cheering Pharisees, tell your disciples to be quiet!
I tell you, Jesus replied, if these people were to keep quiet about me, the very stones would cry out in their place (Luke 19:37-40).
The Pharisees were not the last to try quieting the world lest they hear about Jesus, or God himself. The Communists tried it; the God-is-dead philosophers tried it; and social activists who try, layer by layer, to thicken the cleavage between church and state, keep finding that their wall of separation isnt made of law after all, but of stone, brick and fragile claim.
We have many arguments for the permanency of God, including the one central to the Judeo-Christian faith that, God created man in his own image (Genesis 1:27), creating also a natural, umbilical tie between man and his creator. But the connection Jesus was talking about in his illustration of the stones is verbal.
So, as an aside to the primary message of the Bible, have you ever wondered how much of our language and literary history would disappear if the Bible had never been written?
How many names would have to go? John, Mary, David, Elizabeth, Daniel, Ruth, James, others? How about our beloved stories of wonder and courage - David and Goliath, Daniel in the Lions Den, Moses crossing the Red Sea, Elijah on Mt. Carmel, etc.? And linguists estimate that at least 15 percent of our common English words and phrases have their origin in the Bible, including the following, few examples:
A good Samaritan comes from the racially-charged story Jesus told about an outcast Samaritan who came to the aid of a distressed Jewish man (Luke 10:30-37);
The prod-igal son, another story, concerns a wayward son and the forgiving father who welcomed him home again (Luke 15:11-24);
Money is the root of all evil was Pauls warning to young Timothy that the love of money leads to foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction (I Timothy 6:8-10);
Am I my brothers keeper? was Cains sarcastic reply to God who asked where his brother, Abel was, after Cain had killed him (Genesis 4:8-9);
The patience of Job, is the theme of the Old Testament story of Job, whose faith remained strong despite his terrible losses and the constant criticism of his friends;
Doubting Thomas describes the disciple who wouldnt believe Jesus had risen from the grave, unless I see the nail marks in his hands (John 20:25);
An olive branch, the universal symbol of peace, is based on the sprig of greenery a dove brought back to Noah after the great flood, proving that life for Noah and his family could begin again, at peace with God and the earth (Genesis 8);
The handwriting on the wall was Gods warning to wicked King Belshazzar that punishment was about to fall upon him and his kingdom (Daniel 5);
The salt of the earth, was Jesus description of those he called to flavor the earth with his message, just as salt improves the flavor of food (Matthew 5:13).
Also, when we speak of the gospel truth, the golden rule, the 11th hour, a thorn in the flesh, a multitude of sins, a peacemaker or a scapegoat, we are using language that originated with those who transcribed a heavenly message for an earthly people.
So, when the world seems as frenetic to you as The Tower of Babel (Genesis 11), judge not that you be not judged (Matthew 7:1).
(Barbara Seaborn is a local free-lance writer. E-mail comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.