A NEW LOOK AT THE GOSPELS
By LORETTA FULTON
What do “Little Red Riding Hood,” the story of George Washington and the cherry tree, and the four gospels all have in common?
A lot more than is apparent. Dr. Christopher Hutson, associate dean of the College of Biblical Studies at Abilene Christian University, put all three–and more–together over two weekly presentations to prove a point. Various versions of “Little Red Riding Hood” and the George Washington tale differ in details depending on the audience and culture, but people come away from all of them understanding the story and the point.
As for the George Washington story, Hutson said the original author of the tale admitted he made it up. Still, it got repeated, with details changing. It didn’t matter.
“This is a story that got into our heads and it stuck there,” Hutson said. “We admire George Washington because he told the truth.”
Hutson gave Part 1 of “The Gospel According to Little Red Riding Hood” on Oct. 3 at First Central Presbyterian Church. The conclusion was presented Oct. 10. The presentation by Hutson was part of the regular Wednesday night programming at the church.
Speaker for Oct. 17 will be Terry Cagle, executive director of Connecting Caring Communities. The programs, which begin at 6:30 p.m., are free and the public is invited.
That same principle of audience and culture as seen in the fairy tales also holds true with the gospels, Hutson said. Similar stories about Jesus have varying details, depending on the audience and the culture.
Hutson used the story of Jesus healing the paralytic as an example. In Mark, the story takes place in a house in Capernaum with the paralytic being lowered into the room on a mat. In Luke, the story takes place at Galilee in a house with a titled roof and the man is lowered on a bed–both indicators of a wealthy homeowner.
Archaeological finds, as Hutson showed in a video presentation, show that the house more likely had a thatched roof, not a tile one. It would have been easier to dig through and to lower a mat, not a bed.
“Mark’s description of the scene seems to me more plausible,” Hutson said.
Luke used impeccable Greek, set the story in a tiled roof house and had the paralytic on an elegant bed that only a wealthy person would have owned.
“He’s aiming for an audience of movers and shakers,” Hutson said.
The point is that in all the stories, from “Little Red Riding Hood” to George Washington to the gospels, details change to fit the audience and the culture. When reading the gospels, instead of asking which is right, Hutson had a suggestion.
“You might ask, ‘which one resonates with me?'” he said.