When looking at the bible one must first assume god inspired the authors and preserved them from error and mistake. The reader must start the process of inquiry by assuming a certain outcome - don't look for the most likely hypothesis suggested by the evidence, nor the one that is most likely straightforward or reasonable. Start by believing that a certain conclusion is true and examine the evidence through the lens of that conclusion. Ask yourself, "what explanations or interpretations can I come up with that would allow me to maintain my belief that these texts are not contradictory." If you can find any at all then you have succeeded in your task. By implication, if you cannot, then the problem lays with you and not the text.This is exactly the point I've been trying to make in regards to politics. Too many people work backwards from the conclusion, with evidence be damned, and in the process are forced to contort themselves into partisan pretzels.
This is the quote I've been thinking about for months, describing the process of religious apologetics: