I have had this trouble with Scripture: The commentary explains away contradictions by saying the author is only retelling the story to make his point, and there are two pre-existing traditions the biblical author used ... and, presumably, the two traditions have conflicting details. This has never done much for me or my Biblical reading.
As an example, see the Genesis story of Joseph's being sold and taken to Egypt.
The Commentary "explains" this as two Traditions, pre-existing stories. As I said, this never did much for me until …
… until I reflected on one of my own stories, The Tale of the Deer ( Click here for the long, previously blogged, version ). Ellie and I experienced deer crossing the road in front of our car. We were alone. At first we disagreed on the direction the deer were going; later we agreed on that but disagreed on who changed their story.
It occurred to me that:
- we did not consipire to disagree
- we had two conflicting stories about an event that had occurred something like three to four weeks earlier
- had we not spoken to each other and discovered these discrepancies, I would have told my story and she hers. Some people would have developed the “walter tradition” and others the “ellie tradition.”
- both traditions would be true ( not deviating from the actual facts as the story teller knows them ) but only one ( at most ) is actually how it happened.
I am no longer bothered when there is a discrepancy in the story and the Commentary informs me that there are two traditions. I chuckle a little, am able to say, “of course,” and move on, looking for the point of the story.