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Discovery Magazine 5/2/2011


Point of View

Twice a year for the past few years I have visited the offices of a tax advisor in Montgomery, Alabama. Since I rarely went to his place of business (or even the area in which his business is located), I had a difficult time remembering exactly what side of the road it was on. When I expected to see it on my right, it would strangely appear on my left. Then, just as sure as I thought it might be on my left, I would find it on my right. Maybe I was just confused. Perhaps my memory was failing me. For whatever reason, I never took the time to figure out why I had the distinct impression that sometimes this building was on the right, and sometimes on the left. Whenever the time came for me to see my tax advisor, I simply headed in the direction of his office. I was always confident that I could find it, but unsure on which side of the road it would appear.

Recently, I finally learned why sometimes the building was on my left and other times it was on my right. I had not realized that the street on which this office is located is a long, slow-curving semi-circle. Both ends of the street eventually meet up at the same road, just one intersection apart from each other. Since the two intersections look very similar, I never realized that I sometimes turned left at one intersection and other times turned left at the next intersection. When I took the first left, the office building always appeared on my right. When I took the second left, the building was always on my left. For whatever
reason, I had never paid close enough attention. I had failed to consider that the seeming contradiction was merely the result of two different points of view: one from the North, and one from the South.

Sadly, many people approach a study of the Bible as carelessly as I approached the tax advisor’s office building: they fail to see the various viewpoints of the Bible writers.

  • Approximately 40 different inspired men from all walks of life wrote the Bible over a period of 1,600 years.
  • Sometimes Bible writers focused on a group of people (Luke 23:55-24:1); at other times they targeted a particular person within the group (John 20:1).
  • They wrote in the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek languages.
  • Sometimes the Bible writers recorded events in chronological order (Genesis 1). At other times, they were less concerned about the exact order of events, and they focused more on the main theme of the passage (Genesis 2).
  • These men lived (1) at different times, (2) in different places, (3) among different people, and (4) in different cultures.
  • The original recipients of their writings varied greatly—from Jewish, to Greek, to Roman, to all men.

Oftentimes when two or more Bible writers differ in their description of a certain event, skeptics claim they have contradicted each other. In reality, however, the skeptics have merely overlooked the fact that the inspired penmen wrote from different viewpoints. For example, many have asked the question, “How did Judas die? Did he hang himself as Matthew wrote (27:5)? Or, as Luke stated (Acts 1:18), did he fall headlong and ‘burst open in the middle’ and all his entrails gush out?” The answer: Judas hanged himself, and later his body fell (from wherever it was hanging), and burst open. Are Matthew and Luke’s accounts different? Yes. Are they contradictory? No. They simply wrote about two different, specific moments during the same general event.

If we fail to see the valid reasons for differences in life, we will find ourselves dazed and confused. I was perplexed for years over the exact location of an office building, because I had not taken the time to consider the exact direction from which I approached the building. Similarly, skeptics and others will never come to a proper understanding of the Bible until they recognize that differing viewpoints play a major role.



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