For an Informed Love of God
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4. Digging deeper
Now that we’re acquainted with the way the Synoptic Gospels were written and the role of interpretation in solving apparent contradictions, let’s examine some of the more complicated issues.
- What are some differences you’ve noticed between the Gospels? Before reading this book, why did you think those differences occurred?
- Does it bother you that Matthew and Luke used Mark? Does it seem fair that the writers put their own stamp so to speak on their account of Jesus?
- What roles do paraphrase and approximation play in biblical text? Do you believe they lessen the authority of the Bible? Why or why not?
- Does it bother you that we usually do not have the exact words of Jesus but only paraphrases coming from Aramaic into Greek?
- Why is it important to examine historical context when studying biblical passages?
- In what ways were the standards of ancient writings different from modern writing standards? How did those standards affect biblical accounts?
- Can you list a few examples of when you approximate something and still expected to be understood as accurate and faithful to the facts? The same question but with simplifications.
- Give a modern example of how you might compress a story into a single event when in fact it happened over a period of time. Do you think there is a difference between, “almost dead,” “as good as dead,” and “dead”?
- What are some examples of how the gospel of John is different from the Synoptic Gospels? Why do you think those differences exist? Are they contradictory?
- Do you think Jesus cleansed the temple twice, or did John move the story to the beginning of Jesus’ ministry to make a theological point? Does your answer affect. Your faith?
- Do you think it is necessary to believe in miracles in order to follow Jesus? Why or why not? How would you explain to a friend that you don’t have to understand something or experience something in order to believe it is real? What are some examples you could use?
- Are you familiar with any stories about miracles performed by people that are parallel to those found in the Bible? If so, what are they? If someone said that the Gospels just took stories of other people and applied them to Jesus, what would you say?