Tuesday, December 4

Uniting the biographies

The New Testament gives us 4 different biographies of Jesus. Three of them (Matthew, Mark and Luke) contain many of the same events. John is completely different. Then you also have some additional biographical information in Acts and 1 Corinthians.

Together, all of the these accounts give us a picture of who Jesus was and what he did. Even though these accounts are not all the same, they are unified in the picture they paint of Jesus. However, when we read the story of Jesus, it is sometimes hard to get a handle on the complete order of events, particularly when dealing with stories that don't appear in all of the biographies.

Even when there are similar stories, they don't always appear in the same order. There are at least a couple of good reasons for this. First, when it comes to things that Jesus taught and stories or parables that he told, it is likely that he said similar things on different occasions. It would not be uncommon for teachers or pastors today to repeat the same stories to different audiences. In fact, when I hear speakers again, I like it when they repeat my favorite stories or illustrations. Second, the gospels were written for specific purposes. John even goes to far as to tell us what his purpose actually is: "that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name." Even today, when we have a point that we are trying to make, we may discuss things out of sequence (or may skip some things entirely) because they make it harder to convey the message we are trying to present. For example, we I talk about our trip to Jamaica, I tend to discuss things that happened at VBS together, and things that happened in Bamboo together, etc. Even though in a straight timeline we went back and forth between the two, it could be confusing to tell the story that way.

All of that said, the different biographies of Jesus can be put together in a way that tells the life story of Jesus from beginning to end. Check out the Fourfold Gospel. It has put together the information and stories from the four gospels, plus the biographical information found in Acts and 1 Corinthians, into a single account from beginning to end. It is worth checking out.

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