Something to Discover

The Complete Sayings of Jesus. Assembled and arranged in sequence by Arthur Hinds. (D. H. Pierpont & Co., Williamsburg, Mass)

One of the greatest joys of reading is to rediscover an old book in the light of a new understanding. Anyone with a considerable library must have experienced this joy at times. Year after year a given volume will be noted upon one’s shelves and passed over in the unconsidered belief that it is too well known to justify re-reading; and when one becomes briefly aware of it, something of the mood in which it was read passes vaguely across the owner’s consciousness. It is an outlined mood in most cases and ought to be if one has been developing; accordingly it is no longer appealing, and it may even be unpleasant. The mood and the book being identified, the book is neglected.

But some day, owing to some trivial circumstance, perhaps, one does glance into the book, reading a bit here and there. Then it may be if one’s mental state should be just right, that something really wonderful will happen. Suddenly the old book, the thought of which had come to be a trite boring is no longer an old book. It is an astonishingly new affair all around and when once the light of common-day fell across the pages the brilliance of a revelation becomes. One may remember many sentences and even their places on the pages, just it is as though one had really never read the book before, and one is likely to bore the family with enthusiastic accounts of an astonishing literary discovery.

And it may be truly a great discovery for the power and meaning of beauty of any book are exactly commensurate with the capacity of the receiving consciousness. The startling discovery is really that of an enlarged capacity in oneself.

Probably anyone who possesses a considerable collection of well chosen books would be astounded if he could know how much is hidden from him behind the familiar covers. It is precisely the books one takes for granted that are likely to have more to reveal — books we readily call “great” but seldom [?] [?] care to read. It is as though they were dead and reverently embarked in their own unquestioned greatness.

Probably, for the vast majority of readers, even the majority of those who feel themselves to be [?] the New Testament is just such a book. Most of us, perhaps are [?] to associate it with a mood and [?] developed in childhood — a mood that for all the reverence we may express for it in words, secretly appeals to us as of little practical significance — something appropriate for Sunday.

But what if one should realize suddenly, in its wholeness, just what Jesus of Nazareth said: that He ACTUALLY MEANT IT — all of it, as He said it — meant it so much that He did not care what might happen to Him if only He could get it said? (These words don’t quite get the idea across, but many will feel, the meaning for themselves.)

As an aid to such a discovery of an old book, the little vest pocket volume here noted promises much. It is state that the sayings of Jesus constitute just about 20 per cent of the New Testament and since they are distributed unevenly throughout the four Gospels (a few in other books), only the devoted, the habitual reader of the book is likely to realize how much was said. Here all the sayings are collected and set down in order, with only enough connective material to render them in-telligible. When read as a whole in this form, they are likely to strike many a reader with unsuspected power and beauty and meaning.

“So many volumes have been written to explain what Jesus meant, whereas He said it Himself.”