Lucid Brevity

This short post makes a slight variant of a point that has been made famously elsewhere (see, for example, here), but since I do a lot of speaking and writing — and am around people who have spoken and written a lot more than I have and been greatly honored, often for how prolific they’ve been — it has particular power:

God has infinite, perfect knowledge and wisdom and could have expressed it any way He wanted, but a couple of thousand years ago He decided He could say all He wanted to say in a couple of  years and was happy to have other people write it down, so direct and clear was it.  I think that’s a good thing for writers and speakers to bear in mind before they drone on for too long.

On this point, consider a few quotes from Richard Bauckham’s Jesus:  A Very Short Introduction:  (1) “Jesus’ public life as an itinerant healer and teacher seems to have lasted not much more than two years.  This is a remarkably short period in which to have the impact he did” (38, then noting that the impact on the disciples was his teaching but on others his healing).  (2) While the parables of the Prodigal Son and Good Samaritan are “relatively long” compared to some of Jesus’ other narratives, “none of them wastes words.  They say only what is necessary for the point the story makes” (59-60).  (3) “Finally, we should notice the intensity with which Jesus seems to have devoted himself to teaching, which must partly explain why, in such a short period, he made such an impression” (61-62, then elaborating on the variety of venues in which he taught).

“Lucid brevity,” by the way, was what John Calvin said the good expounder should strive for; he might have gotten that phrase from Cicero.  ‘Nuff said.