I remember in my freshman Lit Hum class at Columbia we had to read fairly large excerpts from the King James Bible – not as a religious text, but rather as a piece of literature. I had never read the Bible in any contexts before, only heard passages recited by my mother or the pastor we listened to on the radio on Sunday mornings. However, reading the Bible in the context of literature was a good start. For one, there was none of the heaviness or “gravitas” usually associated with Bible study. It was there to be analyzed, scrutinized and criticized just as one would do to the latest Jonathan Franzen novel or Paul Auster collection.
Not surprisingly we started with Genesis, but when we got to the New Testament and read the Gospel of John, we discussed how the opening line paralleled the opening of Genesis:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
Our class zeroed in on the “Word“. In the original Greek, word is written as λογος which has a variety of meanings including “thought”, “idea”, and “reason”, among many others. For me, however, this was a powerful connection. Here was one of the most important texts in the world elevating the word to the highest position – equating it with God. Even if you don’t believe in God, you still get a sense of how lofty that position is.
The Word is everything. And a Word always means something, even when it appears to say nothing.
This blog won’t necessarily focus on the Word, but I love the Word and will always come back to it.