Contradiction #1: Should We Steal?
- Exodus 20:15/Leviticus 19:13 (Do not steal)
- Exodus 3:21-22/Luke 19:29-34 (Yes steal)
Contradiction #2: Which came first: man or animals?
- Genesis 1:25-26 (animals –> man)
- Genesis 2:18-19 (man –> animals)
Contradiction #3: Was Jesus a man of peace?
- John 14:27 (YES)
- Matthew 10:34 (NOT)
Contradiction #4: “The Punishment of the Father”
- Deuteronomy 24:16 (Each one dies for his own sin)
- Isaiah 14:21 (Children die for the sin of their fathers)
Contradiction #5: The last words of Jesus
- Psalm 22:1 (Matthew 27:46)
- Luke 23:46
- John 19:30
As we have learned, a contradiction disappears when there is a logical explanation to remove it. In this case, it is entirely possible that Jesus said what he presents in all three verses, making his “last words” the ones he said in his last moments.
Does the Bible contradict itself?
Can the Bible be trusted even though it has contradictions?
Surely you have heard something like: “What about all the contradictions in the Bible? You can’t trust something that contradicts itself so much!”
This objection to the Bible is designed like a wall of steel to stop the Christian (and his belief) in his tracks. But you shouldn’t worry too much. The Bible is one of the most scrutinized books in the history of literature and has endured. The errors and contradictions that people think the Bible has are easily answered and have been answered for many years.
Here is a guide to handling these “difficulties.”
Differences versus Contradictions
Many people think that a contradiction is when there are two versions of the same subject that do not agree. However, a contradiction goes further into the field of logic.
A contradiction is something specific and many do not understand what has to happen for one statement to be considered a contradiction to another.
In Philosophy and Logic, this is known as “The Law of Non-Contradiction.” This establishes that something cannot “be” and “not be” at the same time and in the same sense.
In a simple way, a contradiction is when something is said that does not make sense and has no way of being true because it gives information contrary to itself. It’s like saying someone is “Single Married.” It makes no sense to be both at the same time: a married person cannot be single and vice versa. The phrase “Single Married” is a contradiction.
However, if a statement is capable of being true given additional information, then it is not a contradiction – it is a difference.
Imagine that you meet a person who shows you a picture of a child and says that it is his son. Then you hear the same person, with the same photo of the child, tell someone that this is not their child. It makes sense to think that it is a contradiction because it makes no sense that the child “is” and “is not” your child at the same time, in the same sense.
However, when we look for additional information, we find that the child in the photo was adopted by the person. It ceases to be a contradiction and becomes a difference.
Imagine that a husband comes home and his wife tells him, “A friend came to visit me and we had lunch.” and then he hears her talk to her mother and says, “Marta and Richard from your church visited me today and we ate a delicious chocolate cake.” Is it a contradiction or a difference? One version contains more details than the other, but the gist is the same.
The information varied because it was shared with different audiences and for different purposes. The husband would not have known who Marta or Richard were, but the wife’s mother would because Marta and Ricardo go to her church.
Therefore, the husband was given a short version of what happened at lunch. A contradiction would be that she had told her husband that he had lunch with a friend and her mother had told him that she did not had lunch with Marta and Richard.
In the Bible, many – but many – of the supposed Biblical contradictions are, in reality, differences that are easily understood. A biblical contradiction would be one that breaks the Law of Non-Contradiction; for example, that the Bible declared that fornication IS a sin and that fornication IS NOT a sin.
This is illogical and makes no sense – therefore it would be a contradiction: something cannot “BE” sin and “NOT BE” sin at the same time, in the same sense.
Three Basic Errors
Those who say that the Bible has contradictions have the burden of proving that the statements on trial are truly contradictory at the same time and in the same sense. A great many (if not “all”) of the “contradictions” that exist on atheist web pages are not contradictions at all.
Generally, Biblical passages have different senses and meanings, depending on their context. Many times, those who denounce some contradiction in the Bible have some hidden prejudices that influence their understanding of the text. In fact, many alleged contradictions are mistakes on the part of people who do not treat the Biblical text fairly.
The mistakes that people make when dealing with the Biblical text fall into one of three groups:
- Wait for the Robot Report
- Ignore style to force meaning
- My way is the only way (“My Way or the Highway”)
The most common mistake is when the Biblical text is mistreated and what is expected is that the authors capture every detail – no matter how minimal, insignificant and irrelevant – of the scene they describe. As if the Bible were a court transcript.
The mistake of the “Robot Report” is to expect the Bible to have to be absolutely accurate in its descriptions of the events it contains. However, the Bible can be completely accurate without having to describe all the details of everything it mentions.
It is a mistake to expect that historical books were written mechanically instead of understanding that the authors wrote history in the same way as other contemporary writers.
To begin with, the translation from Aramaic (the language Jesus spoke) to Greek (the language of the New Testament) is not word-for-word. It is impossible to do a word-for-word translation when trying to translate from one language to another – many sentences would lose meaning!
This is so even with today’s translations. Furthermore, although all ancient writers wanted to be precise in describing what they witnessed, they never tried to write an excessively detailed description of everything they mentioned, only the details relevant to the intended audience. It is worth mentioning that all this is without taking into account that writing was a big thing in the ancient world – being a limited skill because not everyone could exercise it and, furthermore, the paper scrolls were limited in their space.
The writer was careful about what to include in his writing and usually did so for a specific purpose. Details that did not serve this purpose were ignored. Let’s look at this example:
How many people went to the Tomb of Christ?
- A Woman – “On the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark; and she saw the stone rolled away from the tomb.” (John 20:1)
- Two Women – « After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. « (Matthew 28:1)
- Three Women – « When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices to go and anoint him. » (Mark 16:1)
- More than three – « It was Mary Magdalene, and Joan, and Mary the mother of James, and the others with them, who told these things to the apostles. » (Luke 24:10)
Is this a contradiction? Of course not! As in the example of Marta, Ricardo, and the chocolate cake, the information that was disclosed had to do with the audience to which it was directed. Therefore, in the example above, there is no contradiction – just a difference in how much information was disclosed.
The facts are real but not as detailed as a bank slip.
Since writing was limited to a few, much of the ancient narrative was received and given by verbal repetition. In ancient times, people countered the fact that they couldn’t read accurately by memorizing large amounts of text with impressive accuracy.
Since this played an important role in keeping the stories correct and clear, ancient writers had different ways of approaching the facts. When they listed, they used abbreviated lists or rounded numbers to keep them simpler and easier to remember. Not only was this accepted practice, but the audience understood that the writer was not attempting to give an exact count of all parental relationships from person A to person Z.
Lastly, people make the mistake of expecting a Robot Report by assuming that the biblical errors had to have been set by the letter writers (NOTE: It is worth mentioning the difference between “author” and “writer” which, as we established, many authors – like Peter and Paul – hired writers who took dictation). The copying of the texts was done so that a scholar read the text aloud to a room full of scribes who copied what the scholar said.
Ignore style to force meaning
This is the second most common mistake made when someone says that the Bible contradicts itself. All language uses some style to carry the message, some are on purpose of the author and others reflect the form of common speech of the time and culture. It is important to understand that language, time, and culture have a huge effect on what is written and what the author meant. Ignoring these things poisons the text in our minds, so what the author meant and what we understand become two different things. Thus, we force the text to have a meaning that is not correct.
A good example is to ignore the use of phenomenological language (the description of natural phenomena).
We say that the sun “rises” in the morning and “sets” in the evening. We know that the sun does not go around the Earth, so it does not “rise” or “set,” but rather the Earth is going around. However, from our perspective yes: the sun rises and sets – and we describe it as such.
Imagine that someone says, “You are wrong! The sun doesn’t rise at all!” That person will probably be left without friends.
In the same way, the Bible uses this kind of language all the time. God is described as having human characteristics, such as hands and eyes (it is called “anthropomorphic language”), even though Jesus tells us that God is spirit.
Other passages speak of “God remembering Noah,” for example, or that God would “remember the people of him.” These are linguistic examples of stating that God would do something special, not that God is forgotten and needs to be remembered.
A good example of the theme of ignoring style is found in Exodus 32:11,14:
“Then Moses prayed before the LORD his God, saying, O LORD, why will your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? […] Then Jehovah repented of the evil that he said he would do to his people. »
If the Bible says that God knows everything and never makes mistakes, then why does he repent?
This is a classic example of how ancient writers tried to help their audience understand the circumstances of the day. Here, the people of Israel had sinned in such a way that the correct thing would have been for God to eliminate them from the face of the Earth.
Therefore, this exchange between Moses and God highlights the fact that they were not saved from God’s wrath because the people were well and that God allowed them to continue, but only by his own promise and grace that they were able to survive. continue. God did not “repent,” but his words help us understand how deep Israel’s situation was.
This is apart from accommodating the idea of the need for an intercessor between God and man – pointing to Jesus.
Finally, it is of the utmost importance to understand the style and context in which the different books of the Bible were written. It is not enough just to understand the words. For example, imagine that you read the following sentence in a newspaper:
“The tigers ate the cowboys.”
Not only is it enough to know what the words mean but depending on the section of the newspaper in which you read the phrase, its interpretation will be. If you read the phrase in the sports section, it’s going to mean something. If you read it in the biology section, it means something else.
This is why it is important to study the style and context of the Biblical text before taking two sentences and saying that they are contradictory.
My way is the only way (“My way or the highway”)
Since the Bible reports historical events, there are people who are dedicated to proving that it reports history in an unfaithful way. They generally point to texts that report the same event, but at different times or under different circumstances.
It should not be surprising that the way of recording historical events has changed in the last 2000 years.
John W. Haley notes that ancient historians did not always write the events of a person’s life in the chronological order that they happened. Many times some aspect of the person’s character or some attribute was emphasized, so different events were placed around a central teaching or important point to give it weight. That is why in Matthew the temptations of Jesus were in a different order than what Luke presented.
Another common mistake is assuming that similar events must be the same event.
Another large number of contradictions that arise have to do with the details of a particular event that are (supposedly) in conflict. The famous “Sermon on the Mount” begins with Jesus climbing a mountain, followed by his disciples (Matthew 5:1). However, Luke writes that Jesus was on a level place (Luke 6:17). It can be argued that there was a flat spot on the mountain, but it is possible that Jesus gave the sermon more than once! If the principles of teaching were important, it would be reasonable to think that Jesus would have wanted many people in different places to hear the message. There were no newspapers or tape recorders, so repetition was the best way to disseminate the teaching. Today, speakers recycle messages so that they can be repeated to various audiences. Anyway,
- 5 Stories Of Patience in the Bible- examples of Patience in the Bible
- 5 Stories of Unity In The Bible
- With God Nothing Is Impossible Explanation
Finally, even if we concede that the Bible contradicts itself, it does not invalidate the events it contains. When the Titanic sank, a group of survivors said that the great ship broke in two and then sank. Another group of survivors said that the Titanic sank in one piece and then broke apart.
A contradiction exists in the story of the Titanic.
Does this mean the Titanic NEVER sank?
The fact that there are contradictions in some things does not invalidate the message of Christianity: Christ, the son of God, came into the world to die for our sins and rose again to defeat death and give us life.