Thursday, June 5, 2014


Contradictions in the Bible? The most obvious and straightforward apologetical question about the Bible is this: Can we prove any parts of it false by showing either (1) that it contradicts itself or (2) that it contradicts some other known facts outside itself? Pro- and anti-biblical controversialists have argues about thousands of examples for hundreds of years. Here are a few samples and summaries of this debate here. Internal Contradictions? Here are five diverse but typical examples of supposed self-contradictions or internal contradictions, in the Bible. 1. In the Old Testament, the populations of the peoples and armies are often estimated differently in different account of the same events. 2. One passage in Exodus says God parted the waters of the Red Sea, but another passage says a strong east wind did it by blowing all night. 3. The chronological order of events in the life of Jesus is not the same in any two of the four Gospels. 4. One account of the first Easter morning says the women who went to Jesus’ empty tomb saw two angels, while another account says they saw one. 5. One account of Judas’s death says he hanged himself; another says he fell down and his guts burst asunder. Two things can be in response to questions like these. First, a sense of perspective is needed. These are not contradictions in substance. The Bible could well be infallible in all its teaching, its message, even while being fallible in incidental details like these. Second, even these minor contradictions can all be explained as only apparent. For instance: 1. Ancient histories rarely claimed exact numbers. Inexact estimates were common and expected. So were the use of symbolic numbers instead of literal numbers to describe real events. 2. First and second causes do not exclude each other: God parted the Red Sea by using a wind. 3. Only Luke, who was a Greek scientist (a doctor) claimed anything like exact chronological order (1:3). 4. Perhaps one woman saw one angel and the other saw two. “I saw two angels” is not contradicted by “I saw only one.” 5. Perhaps Judas’ hung himself with a rope was not strong enough to carry his body for long and it broke and he fell head long given that he hung himself on a tree by the edge of a hill. Hundreds of other minor details like these can all be made to fit a consistent and trustworthy pattern. But we must not impose our modern standards of accuracy on materials that was never intended to have it, it is bad literary criticism to exaggerate the importance of details for which the ancient author was in all likelihood unwilling to vouch

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