Where Are You From?
Although it sounds like an easy question, for a growing number of people it is becoming more and more difficult to answer: Where are you from? Ask the eighteen-year-old college freshmen who grew up in a military family where she is from, and you likely will hear her rattle off five or six different states (and perhaps even a few countries!). Ask the son of a Major League baseball player (who has played for eight different teams in his twenty-year career) where he is from, and you might hear him respond by saying, “I was reared in a lot of places.” Ask a preacher’s kid where he was reared, and you likely will hear the same response.
It seems like the longer I live, the more problems I have telling people “where I’m from.” I was born in Macon, Georgia, then lived in Tennessee for five years, back to Georgia for two, in Oklahoma for the next twelve, and then back to Tennessee (in three different cities) for the next six years. I now live in Alabama. Today, when someone asks me, “Where are you from?,” I must confess that I sometimes do not know what to say. “The last move I made was from Tennessee. I spent most of my “growing-up years” in Oklahoma. I was born in Georgia….” Where am I from? Take your pick.
Some critics actually think they have a legitimate Bible contradiction on their hands by pointing out that different passages sometimes speak of the same person being from two (or more) different places. For example, in Mark 1:21-29 Simon (Peter) and his brother Andrew are said to have lived in (or very near) Capernaum. The apostle John, on the other hand, recorded that “the city of Andrew and Peter” was Bethsaida (1:44). Are these two accounts contradictory? No. Peter and Andrew were living in Capernaum at the beginning of Jesus ministry, however, they were known as being “of” Bethsaida, which is probably where they first learned a trade, got married, and made a name for themselves. The writers are simply referring to two different times in the lives of Peter and Andrew.
A similar “controversy” surrounds whence Jesus came. Well-known skeptic Dennis McKinsey had the audacity to ask, “Why would Jesus be called ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ when He was born in Bethlehem of Judea” (2000, p. 133). Obviously, Mr. McKinsey is not willing to give the Bible writers the same freedom we have today when we talk about our “ hometown” and our “birthplace.” The fact is, Jesus was born in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:1), but grew up in Nazareth (Matthew 2:23; cf. Acts 22:8).
Remember, for something to be a legitimate contradiction, the same person, place, or thing must be under consideration at the same time in the same sense. If not, then it is impossible to know that two things are contradictory.
McKinsey, C. Dennis (2000), Biblical Errancy (Amherst, NY: Prometheus).