Dramatic Bible Exposition
OR
Dramatic Story Telling?

When I was young (early 20's) I was naturally drawn to the more dramatic speakers. A wise older brother warned me that that was the kind of speaker who could more easily lead his audience away from the truth. And that we should focus on doctrinal accuracy, the content, and not drama. It was said in passing, but it made such an impression on me that it frequently occurred to me as I listened to various speakers. It gave me an incentive to listen even if the speaker was monotone.

I recently came across a talk where a very dramatic and wonderful story was told: "Do you know, that when He went to Golgotha, brethren and sisters, we're told in the record, the meaning of that, in the Hebrew tongue, 'the place of the skull', and we instinctively think about Goliath's head and David bringing it to Jerusalem, and it may have that significance! I say it may; but I'll tell you what it is significant of, and there's 'no maybe' about it! That if we were faithful to the record, and we took that word 'Golgotha' and ran it back into the Old Testament to find out what it really does mean, you'll only find it used in ONE WAY AND ONE WAY ONLY, it was used by the expression, when Israel were counted 'by their polls' (Golgotha); it's rendered in the 16th chapter of Exodus by the expression 'for every man'. It means to be numbered and there He was! on Golgotha, numbered with the transgressors, all inclusive, brethren and sisters. Coming into our life, into the midst of human nature, with all its tangled skein of difficulties and misery and heartache. And in the end the stagnation of death, coming into that mire, brethren and sisters, to lead us out. That's what it was all about, 'thus it becometh us, to fulfill all righteousness'. ..".

I was quite impressed with the story and the application. Never mind that this commentator knows so much he can 'instinctively' understand parts of the Bible!

Now, he claimed this Hebrew word, when traced, is used ONE WAY AND ONE WAY ONLY. He said it with such emphasis I instinctively knew it had to be true. But then I thought about it. So I took the commentator's own claim, to be faithful to the record and I look up Strong's 1115, Golgotha in the NT. I find its origin is Aramaic, Strong's 1538 so I go to Hebrew #1538 and I read this: "12 occurrences; AV translates as “poll” seven times, “skull” twice, “every man” twice, and “head” once. 1 head, poll, skull. 1a skull. 1b head, poll (of census)."

Looking at the references I found that it referred to the census (in multiple accounts), an accounting of "every man", to Jezebel's skull, to Abimelech's head, and to Saul's head in the temple of Dagon. That, by any fair reading, is not "one way and one way only", especially when those words are exclaimed.

More importantly, if the Aramaic is interpreted by holy spirit inspiration as "the place of a skull" -- and it plainly is in three gospels -- see Matthew 27:33, Mark 15:22 and John 19:17 -- the very emphasis of God's mind is that interpretation provided by the holy spirit and whatever is intended by that. Unfortunately our dramatic commentator only saw a 'may' down the path which holy spirit inspiration was plainly pointing! While I do not deny the interpretation the dramatic commentator infers, "he was numbered amongst the transgressors", it is propped up with a false argument and false inference: that the OT uses the Hebrew word only one way (the census) and that therefore it must be the holy spirit interpretation: "and there's 'no maybe' about it!"

I got more out of a non-dramatic note in The Testimony magazine: “Further, it is likely that ‘Golgotha’, which means ‘the place of a skull’, is a corruption of ‘Golgoliath’, the place of Goliath's skull, which would be where David buried it (1 Sam. 17:54).” (The Testimony, July 1981, p 222). Granted, in reading it I wasn't left with a dreamy sense of wonder, but I was more intelligent and therefore more convicted about what God is communicating.

So, brethren and sisters, what did you learn? Brethren and sisters, my own time and experience indicates that you get less content, fewer learning experiences, but you walk away with more "good feelings" from these dramatic classes. Brethren and sisters, they're a good story, based as much on emotionally influencing the audience (And "oh, what wonderful classes they were!") as actually teaching God's Message. As our speaker said years ago, "Perce, I've got them [a.k.a. "brethren and sisters"] in the palm of my hand." I personally know multiple brothers who listen to this brother's audio tapes/CDs and model their own delivery style, brethren and sisters, after this brother's example. Absent the return of Christ, future generations will not be 'deprived' so, brethren and sisters, you might want to have your Concordance handy.