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Mr. Oren Piper, Dec. 12, 2018, accuses most Christians of being woefully uninformed about the biblical facts concerning the birth of Jesus. Piper's assessment may be correct. But, Piper goes further. He rushes headlong onto hallowed ground where even angels fear to tread and boldly asserts that the Bible gives two distinctly contradictory accounts in Matthew and Luke regarding the birth of Christ. What a daring, authoritative declaration! One would think that such a grandiose claim of contradiction would be supported by adequate evidence. Not the case. Piper simply recounts in a sophomoric manner the events that Matthew records and the events that Luke provides concerning the birth of Christ.

Evidently, when Piper reads the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, glaring contradictions jump off the page and lodge in his mind. Could the accusing Mr. Piper possibly be in the "woefully uninformed" camp himself? I'm afraid so.

All too often, people see the ancient Mideastern biblical texts in a flat literalistic manner, seeing the texts only through their American mono-cultural lens. The folks process the texts from within the prison of their tiny cultural bubble. There is little or no effort made to know how the original hearers would have understood the texts. This shoddy approach to the Scriptures results in all kinds of misunderstandings, including Piper-style contradictions.

With some understanding of the first century biblical world, some knowledge of the rhetorical styles of Matthew and Luke, and a grasp of basic linguistic concepts, one can construct a beautiful cohesive, coherent, birth narrative. Matthew and Luke don't contradict, but wonderfully complement each other.

I hope Piper and others of his ilk will reconsider the birth narratives and find reason to rejoice in the birth of the Glorious One.

John Littlejohn

Siloam Springs

Editorial on 12/26/2018

Print Headline: Letter to the Editor

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