What would be a good recource for why different Apostles had different perspectives?

Just wondering why the Disciples had different perspectives to the degree they did. The Synoptic Gospels all cover mostly the same things, but ofc John is sorta the odd one out. You also see this in the differences between Luke and Paul even thought they are both very astute scholars. Is it just a matter of different personalities/professions or is there something more here?

Thanks for any answers on this.

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I would like to bump this topic.

Thanks for any and all answers.

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Hi, @Jesse_Means_God_Exists! This is a great question. Could you give me an example of some specific differences between Luke and Paul that you see? I think that deserves further comment and investigation, but if I have examples, then I will better be able to understand where you are coming from and could maybe have a hope of being more helpful :slight_smile:

Each of the gospels, even the Synoptics, have their own distinctive emphasis and focus and were written to different audiences. Though the Synoptics share a great deal of material, each presents it in a different way. Examples of differences in emphasis among the synoptics are: Mark is fast paced and has a heavy focus on Jesus’ death and the cross (the suffering Servant of Isaiah 53); Matthew has a heavier focus on connecting the events of the gospel with the Old Testament and Jesus’ fulfillment of it and also of Jesus’ bringing the kingdom of God–both in the immediate sense and the future one; Luke really emphasizes salvation for all. And yes, John is notably different from the other gospels. But he is not necessarily “the odd one out.” The other three seem to have shared material, some hypothesize from another source they call “Q.” But John is different because John does not seem to have shared much, if any, source material with the other three. He has a focus and emphasis on Jesus’ deity. In Exploring the New Testament: A Guide to the Gospels and Acts (Volume 1), authors Wenham and Walton (2001) write, “John’s portrayal of Jesus as divine is so strong, that some scholars have doubted whether his Jesus is really human” (p. 248). However, the authors note that there are clear statements within the text that show that John knows Jesus was fully human as well as divine: “the word became flesh,” Jesus’ tired and hungry states, Jesus crying, etc. So John is in agreement with the writers of the other three gospel. He just has a very different emphasis, and he states his purpose for this emphasis in John 20:31: “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (New International Version). It would make sense, then for John to so strongly show Jesus’ deity and write to connect him with the life-giving Creator God in Genesis: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him, all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind” (John 1:1-4, NIV).

I could write more, but I can get wordy :slight_smile:, so I want to stop there and see if this is helping and actually addressing what you are asking adequately.

Let me know!

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Hi @psalm151ls!

I appreciate you writing so much for this question.

My question isn’t so much “ARE the writers different” but “Why are the writers different?”

For example, Luke was a historian and Paul was a Pharisee sent to the gentiles so different perspectives. I just want to know… why do we need so many different perspectives? Given God can do the impossible act of writing the Bible, why make the Bible specific to culture? Why not make it a universal kind of teaching that applies to all people for all times? (I know it actually does, I’m saying this to kinda make a point.)

Like, for example, some atheists like to make the argument that because the Bible is written by different people means that the Bible isn’t coherent, has contradictions and all sorts of things like that. It’s natural to assume that the Bible written with so many different lenses could be a stumbling block for some people. So I would like to discover why God chose to use many different walks of life and personalities to write the Bible. I even do think that the fact the Bible is written by so many different personalities must benefit us somehow now that the cannon is complete.

Just some things rolling around in my head. I think everything God did with the Bible is intentional, hence, I am curious what the positive spin on there being mulitple authors is.

The difference with the NT is that it was all written in a very short period of time. So the idea of unity in One Spirit is something that kinda CAN look weak when there are so many different focusses about the life of Christ.

I think knowing this will help my perspective in my online evangelism when facing objections to things like, “Mark said this and John said that” sort of thing.

Thanks!

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Hi, @Jesse_Means_God_Exists. Thank you for clarifying. My point in bringing up the different emphases among the authors (and, apologies, I should have said this when I first wrote and meant to but forgot) was not to merely point out that they “are” different from each other but that the differences come from the authors wanting to get across different things. Any objection that says that something is incoherent simply because it is presented in light of different perspectives is not logically sound because perspectives can be different while all testifying to the same truth. Different does not have to mean contradictory. Neither does someone’s lack of understanding of the differences need to point to contradiction within the texts. Many times, there is an oversight or blind spot in the person’s study of the text when they approach it. Those who claim there are contradictions in the text either do not know to look at context, audience, authorial intent, ect. or they are approaching the text from a worldview that says, “The Bible can’t be trusted.” So, as the saying sort of goes, if you go out already thinking about red cars, you’re going to keep seeing red cars, despite the fact that there are many other colors of cars passing by you on the road.

I like to think that God uses different personalities from different backgrounds to show that He embraces the diversity of His creation, that you don’t have to be just one personality or of one culture or background to be included and have meaning and purpose within God’s design and redemptive plan. He can use anyone from any background, any tongue and nation. Isn’t that breathtakingly beautiful?! What better illustrates the truth of God’s sovereignty, power, and love for people and His creation than that (besides what Jesus did on the cross, of course!)?! Furthermore, God’s original plan was for all humanity to rule over the earth as His representatives. So God’s plan was always to work through people, and God doesn’t form people on a factory setting with identical cookie cutters. He forms each individual with unique abilities and personalities and births them into a specific time and place. In that way, He makes room for differences in perspective and culture. God did not just want to dictate His message to someone as He did the covenant with Moses. He wanted us to receive it through many perspectives, because each perspective speaks to reality in a different way and to each person in a different way. Another thing is that God does not wish to suppress human personality in order to give His message. Why would He, the One who created people with their peculiar individual traits, want to suppress that which He has encouraged and designed? Rather, God shows better His sovereignty by working THROUGH the different personalities to weave a beautiful tapestry that has beautifully voiced His truth in many different ways.

Last, I think we humans need to learn through different perspectives and experience. God’s use of methods that we can understand on a human level is called accommodation. He works through us and uses different perspectives and personalities so that we can relate and experience His truth and reality through the eyes of those with which we share common experience, even if separated by time and culture. Different perspectives will speak to some people and not others, so all are needed to reach and teach us about God and His truth.

I hope this is making sense.

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@psalm151ls,

Thank you, that was a very good answer.

But just for the sake of argument, which is likely to happen in these kinds of conversations with people online, what if someone comes up with the argument that God is a being of divine simplicity, so it would make no sense why God would need to work through different perspectives?

(This would be a heavy duty argument someone would make who knows theology fairly well [possibly because I have already brought up this point earlier], but is either resistant to the truth or still has questions)

Further, In God’s divine simplicity, he doesn’t have “multiple characteristics” because he doesn’t really even have characteristics apart from his infinite nature.

Hey, Jesse, these are good questions, and I’m going to tag @andrew.bulin, because though I have had some higher education in theological study, Andrew has quite a bit more than I and could probably be a great deal of help.

First, in my theological studies, no where did I encounter the idea that “God is a being of divine simplicity.” I would want to know how this person came across this idea and what s/he means by it. I wouldn’t be surprised if the person could not explain it well. Saying that “God is a being of divine simplicity” doesn’t explain God’s nature and does not logically offer itself to the conclusion that God doesn’t need different perspectives or anything else. Considering the fact that we cannot fully understand God (if we could fully understand any god, I would hesitate to call that a god at all), that means God is not simple–at least not for the human mind. Also, even if God is a being of divine simplicity, the conclusion that it wouldn’t make sense that God would need different perspectives does not necessarily logically follow. The question is not about what God needs but about what those He wants to reach need.

Added to this is the trinitarian nature of God. God is love, because He is a being consisting of three persons that continuously give and take in perfect united community. Each being has distinctive roles and yet they are unified in the Godhead. God’s working through different perspectives to communicate a unified truth to humankind is a reflection of His nature rather than a contradiction of it.

Any beginner in at least Christian theological studies knows that God does, in fact, have multiple characteristics, but He does not just “have” those characteristics but “is” those characteristics. The fact that He IS those characteristics does not mean they are not multiple. Being just and merciful are two different characteristics, and yet God is both, so it isn’t logical to say that God does not have multiple characteristics on the basis that He is His characteristics.

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@psalm151ls, here is a recource for divine simplicity:

It’s long, but solid.

Start at 10:50

Here is another recource…

@Jesse_Means_God_Exists Hi Jesse, If this is something you are interested in reading more deeply into, one of my profs in grad school has a book called The Art of Biblical History. I can recommend it as a thought-provoking work related to your question; while it is actually concerned with the historical narratives of the Old Testament, in our class he applied many of the same insights to the gospels so I think it would still be great for the issues you’ve raised here.

Besides being a (just recently retired) professor and a respected biblical scholar, he is also an artist. In this book, he uses the concept of representational portraiture to help us understand how ancient histories were written. Both history and portraiture involve selection, arrangement, omission, perspective, emphasis, etc. and I think this starts to get at part of the “why” of the differences which you are asking about. It starts to fill in what kinds of reasons authors may have had (and what would have been normal practice, different from say, modern reporting) for presenting things differently than someone else who documented the same events.

I have found his work (especially this extended metaphor of representational portraiture) very helpful for understanding why accounts of events in Scripture that appear in more than one passage are sometimes presented differently by the respective authors.

Bless you, Jesse, as you continue to delve into this topic through your discussions here and your personal study.

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@Lizibeth,

Wow, thanks! This looks great!

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