From my mailbag: Bible stories and Gospels.

I answer questions in a variety of other settings. I decided to bring a couple of my answers here.


A friend emailed me to ask how to learn Bible stories never heard as a child.

What if you are a parent and you want to know Bible stories but just don’t have time to read on your own? Consider reading them from a kid’s Bible to your young child. Or if there are older siblings, have them read the stories. In that situation, you can eavesdrop and learn stories, the siblings can, and the toddler can. (We read to our kids from The Beginner’s Bible).


This is from Facebook

Dear Jon: A friend was reading a book recently, I believe it was, “The Fifth Gospel” by Ian Caldwell, that suggested that we should read the 1st 3 Gospels historically but that we should read John symbolically. Do you agree with this approach?

Answer: I had to look up the book, which is a novel rather than a non-fiction work on biblical interpretation. That said, however, any book or conversation can suggest approaches to reading scripture.

12239135_10153718463152008_8034133275092093053_oI’m uncomfortable with that division because I find symbolism and history in all four gospels. I was intrigued one day to realize that there are no parables in John, and that more disciples are identified by name and with spoken lines in John than in the other three. It’s true that John writes from the perspective of several signs, (the water into wine being the first), but that’s not an either/or.

Here’s what’s fun. In the book pictured here (Reading the Gospels Wisely), the idea is suggested that the gospels are testimony rather than history. They aren’t so much about giving historical proof as bearing testimony to what the writers saw and heard. It gives a different window for reading them.