The Elements of Style and the Beatitudes

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We bloggers need constant help in our writing so that every post will connect to our readers. Not just correct grammar but a good structure of sentences to give clarity and smooth flow in reading. One of the best books in writing I would highly recommend for bloggers is the book “The Elements of Style” by Williams Strunk Jr. and E.B. White. Short but very practical, I think recommending it to you might not be a surprise (if you’re writer).

In page 26 of this superb book, Stunk and White notes a principle composition method that brings clarity to the readers by repeating a word in a series of sentences. In the book it is called “Express coordinate ideas in similar form”. And they use an example from the Bible. It’s the opening words of Jesus in the Sermon of the Mount found it Matthew 5.

“This principle that of parallel construction, requires that expressions similar in content and function be outwardly similar. The likeness of form enables the reader to recognize more readily the likeness of content and function. The familiar Beatitudes exemplify the virtue of parallel construction.”

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

More than a great model of the said method, The Beatitudes is the radical approach in Christian living straight from our Lord’s lips. The structure of the sentences is excellent and Jesus wants it more than a monumental speech. He wants to enumerate things that create a vast gulf of what it means to live in this world pursuing God and what the rest of this world thinks what is great. He resolves it in this unforgettable Element of Style cuts it on verse 6 on the book. Let’s read the rest of it:

Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. (Matthew 5:7-11, KJV)

The MacArthur Study Bible said it well about the Beatitudes:

“The Beatitudes demonstrate that the way to heavenly blessedness is antithetical to the worldly path normally followed in pursuit of happiness. The worldly idea is that happiness is found in riches, merriment, abundance, leisure, and such things. The real truth is the very opposite. The Beatitudes give Jesus’ description of the character of true faith.”

So The Beatitudes are the new attitudes that we need to follow as Christians. May we walk on it and make our Christian walk a light to this dark world.

Additional resources

Here a great bumper video when teaching the Beatitudes. “God-o-nomics” by Dan Stevers.

Download a FREE e-book on The Beatitudes

The Beatitudes (.pdf)
Thomas Watson

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