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  1. #1
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    Biblical Contradictions

    Long introductory post, please read at least the first part of it if you wish to participate.

    Many critics often claim that the Bible is full of contradictions. Often times, it's merely a complete misunderstanding of the context. Some may seem like obvious contradictions, others perhaps not so obvious. However, I contend that there are no contradictions in the Bible. And I will challenge those who believe that there are, by posting them in this thread. As someone who is confident and well studied in hermeneutics, I often take on the task of refuting the critic's claim of contradictions in other forums. I offer that challenge here as well.

    Rules for submission: Please provide only 3 "contradictions" at a time per person in a given post until your contradictions are responded to (after which, you may certainly may provide more contradictions). Too often, there will be many responses and each response will have 10-15 contradictions (usually copied from other web sites...which is fine, but it makes it too easy to list too many for me to respond to) in each post, which adds up to several contradictions to respond to very quickly. I will attempt to respond to EVERY alleged contradiction by EVERY person who posts here. I'll keep this thread alive through my response. If I cannot answer your contradiction, I'll let you know. I'm not claiming to have all the answers, just a great deal of them.

    If you submit more than 3 in a given post, I'll only respond to the first 3.

    Also, and this is very important, you must cite the passages of scripture (referencing where they can be found by Book and verse(s)). Do not expect apologists to simply know the contradiction you are referring to, and for them to supply where in the Bible it is found.

    (end of first part, but below may come in handy, and will be used in reference)
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    First, let's go over a few things about the Bible and these "contradictions" that critics often bring to our attention.

    Guidelines for handling difficult passages
    This has to do with attitude when discussing it or criticizing it. The burden of proof rests on the critics. As long as it is shown that there is a possible solution, that their objection "ain't necessarily so", then the conflict has been resolved. Like any American citizen, the Bible should be presumed innocent until proven guilty. Like a good friend, it should be given the benefit of the doubt. A scientist always assumes that there is an explanation when faced with some unexpected and unexplained anomaly. In the same way, the Bible student assumes that there is a harmony in the Bible in light of what appear to be contradictions. The presence of these types of problems motivates the student to dig deeper and find information that otherwise he may have never come across.

    Be sure you know what the text says
    Often a misquoted verse will mislead someone. More often, there is a textual problem that is disguised in our English translation. Especially in the Old Testament where numbers are involved, a minor copyist's error might have been incorporated into the text. A good commentary can tell us about these things and will answer about 90% of the objections we may encounter.

    Be sure you know what the text means
    May sound silly, or redundant, but it's not. The Bible uses some words and phrases that may not mean exactly what you expect them to mean. For example, some have complained that Jesus was wrong to call the mustard seed the smallest seed when an orchid seed is really smaller. A closer examination of what Jesus said, reveals that the word He used for "seed" means garden seeds that yield a crop. He says it was a seed which a man sows in the field (Matt 13:31; Mark 4:31) and compares it to the garden plants.

    Also remember that some words change meaning in different contexts. A trunk might belong to an elephant, a car, a salesman, or a tree; it's meaning depends on the context in which it is used. Look closely at the context and the meaning of th words to be sure you really understand what is meant by what is said. In this regard, the Bible is the best interpreter of itself. Clear passages often help in understanding difficult ones, and phrases are often used in other contexts that help to clarify their meaning.

    Don't confuse error with imprecision
    Precision with measurements is crucial for an aircraft engineer, but those requirements are not necessary in other ares. Rounded numbrs do fine when trying to give a general idea of the size of an object or army. Likewise, quotations don't have to be reproduced verbatim from their source. No one was going to grade the biblical authors on their form as if they were writing research papers. As long as it can be shown that their citation is faithful to the meaning of the text quoted, imprecision can be tolerated. This is the same standard accepted by today's media. One can be faithful to the idea without using the exact same words.

    Don't confuse falsity with perspective
    Just because a witness only sees part of the accident or only sees it from one angle doesn't mean that his testimony is false. So also, when a biblical writer records a part of an event which he saw and fails to mention some other part that someone else saw, his record is still true. These differences in accounts assure us that the authors did not conspire to "get their story straight."

    Language about the world is everyday language
    Language about the world is often expressed from human perspective. If an archaeologist 2000 years from now found a copy of the book The Sun Also Rises, would he be justified in concluding that our culture had no concept that the earth revolves around the sun? No, we often speak of things as they appear to us rather than as we know them to be in the bigger picture of things. The same goes for biblical authors, who speak of the sun standing still (Josh 10:12) and heaven being above the earth (Isa. 40:22). There is no reason to assume that the Bible is supporting any theory that the earth is the center of the universe; this is the normal way to express these ideas.

    Remember that the Bible records things that it does not approve
    The Bible is largely a book of history. As such, it sometimes records things without approving them. For example, David's sins (2 Sam 11) and Solomon's polygamy (1 Kings 11:1-8) are recorded without any sermons condemning them immediately afterwards. It also records Satan's lie without approving it (Gen 3:4-5). The sermons are not necessary because the condemnation is clearly stated elsewhere.

    The above are some of the guidelines that are often neglected when examining the Bible....using them will usually result in the immediate dismissal of the majority of the so-called objections.

    The guidelines above are credited to Professor Norman Geisler
    Last edited by Apokalupsis; February 18th, 2004 at 02:19 PM. Reason: Highlighted procedures for submission.
    -=]Apokalupsis[=-
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    I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend. - Thomas Jefferson




  2. #2
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    Alright...

    I looked up some of the biblical contradiction pages you mentioned.

    One of the classic so-called contradictions is between Matthew 5:48 and Luke 6:36. Did he tell us to be 'perfect' or 'merciful'? I understand perfectly well that this can simply be a matter of how the original aramaic was translated.

    Nevertheless - these are two different meanings. If this were a book that was 100% divinely inspired, such a translation error would not have been allowed to appear.
    Assume nothing. This includes assuming that you should not assume.

  3. #3
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    Alright Apok - I will take up your challenge from the evil fundamentalists thread...

    The posting above this was one I put in, in January, but you never replied.

    When in history have witnesses stated the exact same detail of an event they witnessed?
    Never - never at all. And why is that? It is because humans are flawed, and give flawed accounts of what happens. And that is exactly what the Gospels are - flawed human accounts of what happened. If God were writing through the hands of the men who wrote the Gospels, he would have gotten the details exactly right, which means there would be no contradictory details.

    Since the Gospels differ some on the details, those details are not inspired by God.
    Assume nothing. This includes assuming that you should not assume.

  4. #4
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    A contradiction is: A cannot be both A and non-A at the same time in the same sense.

    In otherwords, God cannot be both evil, and good.

    Or...we are to be mercififul, and unmerciful.

    These different accounts of the Sermon on the Mount are complimentary, not contradictory. Luke goes into greater detail than Matthew does and even quotes the parables that Matthew did not quote.

    In this Sermon, Jesus is telling people how to treat one another, regardless of their belief system or background. He is saying that we are to be merciful, that all are equals, we are to love even our enemies. We are to be like God.

    In each case, Christ is calling His Apostles to be something greater than what they are. Both Matthew and Luke see the Sermon on the Mount as a call to righteousness (Compare Matthew 7:15-29 and Luke 6:43-49).

    But both Matthew and Luke have different perspectives and backgrounds. God didn't verbally tell the authors of the Bible to write specifically what God says, verbatim. That isn't how Biblical inspiration worked. God worked THROUGH his prophets to reveal His word. There are a variety of literay styles in the Bible as well as backgrounds and occupations of the authors, as well as when and where the Bible was written, as well as varying "moods". All of these are discussed in the Case for the Bible thread. By using different people, we have different writing styles and perspectives...but they all line up with God's view and plan. Thus, this is what we mean when we say it is the word of God. God didn't literally force the hand of the author to write each specific word verbatim...He used the authors to write what God wanted them to write about, through their own perspectives and views. Luke is much more detailed as he was a physician. His writing is quite different than that of Matthew, who was a wealthy tax collector.

    God perfect as well as merciful...and both descriptives fit the meaning of what Jesus is saying in the preceding passages. There is absolutely no "contradiction" here whatsoever.
    -=]Apokalupsis[=-
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    I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend. - Thomas Jefferson




  5. #5
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    Thus, this is what we mean when we say it is the word of God. God didn't literally force the hand of the author to write each specific word verbatim...He used the authors to write what God wanted them to write about, through their own perspectives and views.
    So...

    Are you saying that when they quote Jesus in the bible, it is possible they might not precisely remember each and every word exactly as it was said?
    Assume nothing. This includes assuming that you should not assume.

  6. #6
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    Yes. But do not confuse that with "completely misunderstanding what he said".

    It is like a police officer asking 3 witnesses who saw the crime committed by the criminal. In this case, the 3 witnesses gave accurate testimonies as to what really happened...but in their own words.

    Simply because they used their own words, doesn't necessarily mean that 1) they completely missed the mark, 2) that what they say is different (in as far as what happened) than the other witnesses.

    I understand that the critic's claim is that they (as witnesses or authors of the Bible) HAVE and CAN "miss that mark"...but the critic has an awefully difficult time proving it. Also, that is outside the scope of this thread, which is to deal specifically with Biblical Contradictions.
    -=]Apokalupsis[=-
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    I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend. - Thomas Jefferson




  7. #7
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    I see this as a long term campaign. Your acceptance that they could make tiny, supposedly irrelevant, mistakes is progress.

    Do you feel that the authors of the Bible could not make mistakes that are significant to our understanding of ethics or cosmology?

    If so, why is it that they can make small mistakes, but not big ones?
    Assume nothing. This includes assuming that you should not assume.

  8. #8
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    I never said they made mistakes. A variant, when quoting, is a paraphrasing.

    Also, to make the claim of even 'small mistakes', you'd have to adequately 1) define what qualifies as such, and 2) show that one exists.
    -=]Apokalupsis[=-
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    I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend. - Thomas Jefferson




  9. #9
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    So then... When they quote Christ in the Gospels they were really just paraphrasing him - is that what you are saying?
    Assume nothing. This includes assuming that you should not assume.

  10. #10
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    Unless you read the Bible in the original languages it was written in, the entire Book will be paraphrased. So when you read Jesus saying in English "Turn the other cheek," that is very obviously paraphrasing.

  11. #11
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    Right - but what I am asking is, did the disciples who wrote the Gospels quote Jesus, or paraphrase him, when they wrote down what he said?
    Assume nothing. This includes assuming that you should not assume.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by AntiMat
    Are you saying that when they quote Jesus in the bible, it is possible they might not precisely remember each and every word exactly as it was said?
    Indeed. And Surely Jesus said more than what appears in the Bible. Why was so little attributed to Jesus in the Bible? More from Jesus and less from Paul would have been a good goal.

  13. #13
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    Of course nothing in the NT was written by any of the eyewitnesses to the life of Jesus, the closest is Mark which is a second hand source. The biggest contradiction is not what Jesus said but they three different accounts of what he supposedly did after he rose from the dead. Matthew, Luke and John all have independent versions-and we don't have anything past the women returning to the tomb in the original Mark. How can you explain three different resurrection accounts?

  14. #14
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    kwinters, that is absolutely, 100%, untrue. All of the authors of the NT knew Jesus. John and James, were Jesus' cousins. Also, Mark is not a "second hand source". You'll have to support these claims for them to carry any weight here.

    WriterBook
    MatthewMatthew
    Mark Mark
    LukeLuke Acts
    JohnJohn I John
    II John
    III John
    Revelation

    PeterI Peter II Peter
    JamesJames
    JudeJude
    PaulRomans
    Phillipians
    I Timothy
    I Timothy
    I Corinthians
    II Corinthians
    Colossians
    Titus
    I Thessalonians
    II Thessalonians
    Philemon
    Galatians
    Ephesians

    UndeterminedHebrews


    As far as the "contradictory accounts"...what specifically do you believe is contradictory? Claiming it, and proving it are 2 entirely different things.

    Anti-Mat, Jesus' followers wrote down what was said by Jesus. However, every exact word, may not have been written 100% the way it was said. Do not mistake this to mean that "they got it all wrong" however. It is like watching a football game, then going home to tell your friend what happened in the game. Oral tradition then, was like our written tradition today. Entire volumes of books were memorized and were passed on to others. Also, these books were written in the lifetimes of their peers who also witnessed and knew of these accounts. Had they been untrue, the public would have objected.

    However, we are starting to stray off topic with this discussion. Let's stick with specific contradictions and leave w/ the "how do you know's" to other threads.
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  15. #15
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    [If we had access to Greek (or Symbol) font this would appear correctly.]

    First identify the problem and then explain it away in the following passage from the NT:


    kai ote hggisan eiV ierosoluma kai hlqon eiV bhqfagh eiV to oroV twn elaiwn tote ihsouV apesteilen duo maqhtaV
    legwn autoiV poreuesqe eiV thn kwmhn thn katenanti umwn kai euqewV eurhsete onon dedemenhn kai pwlon met authV lusanteV agagete moi
    kai ean tiV umin eiph ti ereite oti o kurioV autwn creian ecei euquV de apostelei autouV
    touto de gegonen ina plhrwqh to rhqen dia tou profhtou legontoV
    eipate th qugatri siwn idou o basileuV sou ercetai soi prauV kai epibebhkwV epi onon kai epi pwlon uion upozugiou

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by non-croyant
    [If we had access to Greek (or Symbol) font this would appear correctly.]

    First identify the problem and then explain it away in the following passage from the NT:


    kai ote hggisan eiV ierosoluma kai hlqon eiV bhqfagh eiV to oroV twn elaiwn tote ihsouV apesteilen duo maqhtaV
    legwn autoiV poreuesqe eiV thn kwmhn thn katenanti umwn kai euqewV eurhsete onon dedemenhn kai pwlon met authV lusanteV agagete moi
    kai ean tiV umin eiph ti ereite oti o kurioV autwn creian ecei euquV de apostelei autouV
    touto de gegonen ina plhrwqh to rhqen dia tou profhtou legontoV
    eipate th qugatri siwn idou o basileuV sou ercetai soi prauV kai epibebhkwV epi onon kai epi pwlon uion upozugiou
    That looks cool, but what does it mean in English?

  17. #17
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    I thought a soi-disant Bible scholar who can wave away so-called "contradictions" with a dismissive wave of his hand would know how to read Greek.

    Was I wrong?

  18. #18
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    Sorry, KB, thought you were someone else. You spolied my gimmick!

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by non-croyant
    I thought a soi-disant Bible scholar who can wave away so-called "contradictions" with a dismissive wave of his hand would know how to read Greek.

    Was I wrong?
    What is soi-disant? I never said I could simply dismiss contradictions. Apok is the one who started this thread, and he never said that either. What Apok and I are saying is that most of the so-called contradictions are taken out of context and not given more than a cursory consideration.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by KevinBrowning
    What is soi-disant? I never said I could simply dismiss contradictions. Apok is the one who started this thread, and he never said that either. What Apok and I are saying is that most of the so-called contradictions are taken out of context and not given more than a cursory consideration.

    I apologize for confusing you with Apok. I am still adjusting to the indicators on this discussion forum.

    But, since you agree with Apok, I will point out that you don't even recognize the Greek language when you see it, but you imply that those who don't jump through the same Occam's-razor-violating hoops as you to excuse Biblical contradictions are guilty of "cursory" examination.

    Most "explanations" produced by apologists are sophistries of mediocre minds.

 

 
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