Catechism Question


This is my first post in this section so I just wanna say “HI!” before I ask my question. So, HI!

So here’s the question.

The Catechism says, “G-d is the author of Sacred Scripture.” (Cate.105) and goes on to elaborate on the point in the following paragraphs (Cate. 105-8). So according to the Catechism the Bible can’t be wrong in anyway. After all how could G-d not know something, but the NT says,

Acts 7:15-16
So Jacob went down to Egypt; and he died, he and our fathers. And they were carried back to Shechem and laid in the tomb that Abraham bought for a sum of money from the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem.

What’s interesting is that according to Torah, also authored by G-d according to the Catechism, says something different,

Genesis 23:2-6
So Sarah died in Kirjath Arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan, and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her. Then Abraham stood up from before his dead, and spoke to the sons of Heth, saying, “I am a foreigner and a visitor among you. Give me property for a burial place among you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.” And the sons of Heth answered Abraham, saying to him, “Hear us, my lord: You are a mighty prince among us; bury your dead in the choicest of our burial places. None of us will withhold from you his burial place, that you may bury your dead.”

Genesis 50:3
For [Jacod’s] sons carried him to the land of Canaan, and buried him in the cave of the field of Machpelah, before Mamre, which Abraham bought with the field from Ephron the Hittite as property for a burial place.

So basically the Torah says that Jacob was buried in Hebron while the NT says that he was burried in Sychem, definitely not Hebron, and yet they are both authored by G-d…

So exactly how does this work?

Thanks for any and all replies! :thumbsup:


Although the names are different the places being described are the same. Paul, whom Luke traveled with and who had sat at the feet of Gamaliel, would have given Luke the information for this passage. He probably drew upon sources besides the Torah, something many people did in his day. The Torah wasn’t the only historical source used, but it would have been the most prominent, just as the NT isn’t the only source for the faith and practices of Christians.


Your question is difficult to unravel for more than one reason. :slight_smile: First, I’m assuming you mean Genesis 50:13, not Genesis 50:3. You seem to be saying that the Torah there is saying that Jacob is buried at Hebron (Mamre). Upon this we agree. Now, the passage in Acts is saying that Joseph is buried at Shechem. Since Joseph and Jacob are two different people to be buried, I see no conflict with this. In fact the OT agrees with Acts about where Joseph is buried. For that we need to turn to the book of Joshua (a third J person). In Joshua 24:32 it says that Joseph was buried in Shechem.

So, when you claim that the NT claims that Jacob is buried in Hebron, I am confused by this claim. I think you mean Joseph. That’s what I’m guessing, anyway.

BUT, this does not in itself mean that there is no question left to be asked about the passage in Acts. So, what is your particular question? (Which I probably can’t answer, btw.) :smiley:


Here’s what Haydcock’s Bible Commentary says:

Ver. 16. Which Abraham bought … of the sons of Hemor, the son of Sichem. This purchase made by Abraham must be different from the purchase of a field made afterwards by Jacob. (Genesis xxxiii. 19.) See a Lapide, the author of the Analysis, dissert. 23. P. Alleman, &c. (Witham) — Abraham bought. There must be an error of the copyist in this verse. Either the word Abraham ought to be omitted, or changed into Jacob. For it is plain, from Genesis xxxiii. 19. that the latter bought the land from the sons of Hemor. The Hebrew says, he bought it for one hundred kesitha, which some translate pieces of silver; others, lambs. As for Abraham, and Jacob, they were buried in the cavern of Mambre, which Abraham had purchased from the children of Heth. (Genesis xxiii.) (Calmet) — It is supposed that originally the name of Jacob was given, abridged JAB, and that the first letter having disappeared, the two remaining letters were taken by misprision, for the abridgment of the name of Abraham. Hemor was the father of Sichem, and here the Greek text simply calls him Hemor of Sichem. (Bible de Vence)


Your correct that I ment Gen. 50:13 not 50:3 sorry for the typo, and also the passage, Gen. 50:13. Also Acts doesn’t say Joseph is says Jacob, Joseph’s father. I have checked multipule translations and they all say that it is Jacob and all say that his body was moved to Sychem. So here we have an example of the NT making a claim that is not consistant with Torah.


This is incorrect. They are not the same place at all. The cave that Abraham bought is in Hebron as written in Genesis. The place where the cave is according to the NT is Shechem, or Nabulus. They are two very different places. Shechem is north of Jerusalem while Hebron is to the south. They can not be the same place. For a map of their locations I have a link below, and feel free to find your own source.

NOTE: for some reason the link isn’t taking me to the correct source but it provides a link on the page that pops up to the correct source

Map of Canaan


Can you prove that this was a typo made by the copyist? Also, if such mistakes can take place here then how do you know that anything you read in the NT isn’t a copyist error? How do you know it isn’t made up, corrupted, manipulated, etc.? In addition, if this isn’t a copyist error then you must know that this book isn’t authored by G-d, because G-d doesn’t make mistakes, and that the Catechism is also providing false information to Catholics all over the world and the Pope, who endorses this book, is also misleading Catholics.


Ah! You have identified the “they” that is there as “the body of Jacob”? I very automatically do not do this, so this made it hard to see what you could mean. First, we agree that shortly after Jacob died he was taken to be buried by Joseph, who then returned to Egypt? Then, when Joseph died, he made everyone promise to move him later on. Then, when Moses came, the bones of Joseph got moved to Shechem. So in reality, there are two separate times that a body is transported, and to two separate places.

Acts does not say who got moved in so many words. There is an indefinite sort of “they” there. Some “they” thing got moved. Since Jacob is just Jacob, I figure it can’t mean just him. Bones is plural, though, and so I figure it is Joseph, who got moved after a long time, as bones, and there is a specific mention made of this movement in the Torah. This makes sense to me since immediately before it Stephen says that not only did Jacob die, but our fathers died, which would advance this reader’s mind up to Joseph. Once I am up to Joseph in my mind, then Jacob is no longer in my view. This is why the “they” comes across to me as the bones of Joseph (and perhaps any other ancestors that got moved at that same time, if that happened).

But even on how I read it myself, the verse makes no sense to me. This is because the name mentioned is Shechem and the people the sons of Hamor, but ***Abraham ***is the wrong guy to have bought that, to my limited knowledge. In other words, the problem that I see is not the problem you see, so I found it hard to understand you. Sorry. :o


Sorry but its irritating seeing you keeping saying G-d. I have many Jewish friends and they all say God not G-d.


Bold added. I know some Jewish people who do not *write *God. I assume this is due to the permanency of the medium, compared to speech, and worries about respect and what if the writing paper might be discarded, but I don’t really know. I can see how this would translate over to any type of casual writing because it gets attached to the concept of writing and stays out of respect, even though the web is not permanent.

Anyway, what I am sure of is that this practice is not unique.


actually pious Jews do not say or write the Name of God, which in most Christian bibles is rendered Y-hw-h, God is not His proper name, it is his nature.


I’m sorry but I don’t see how I type G-d as being of concern to this question. Also what you’re Jewish friends do isn’t my concern either. If it agitates you then refrain from reading it, and move on.


All of it is problematic. The verse says “their bodies were brought back to Shechem”, this seems to mean Jacob, Joseph, and others, but we know from Torah that Jacob wasn’t brought with Joseph and the others to anywhere. Joseph and his brothers brought Jacob’s body to Hebron to be placed in the cave, and then Joseph and his brothers went back to Egypt where they died, and then Joseph’s body was then brought to Shechem at some point. So when the book of Acts says that “they” were brought there it makes no since. This is problematic along with the fact that Abraham didn’t buy the field in Shechem, but bought the cave in Hebron. So we have two contradictions in two verses. How can this be authored by G-d?


I agree that it could seem to mean all three (Jacob, Joseph, and others), as you say. I think we don’t know for sure who it means. So then it could mean Stephen condensed the account of two movements for brevity, and perhaps Stephen knew he would be understood by his audience as he spoke the words. I don’t think we can know. If that is the case, then there is no issue of error, just a true recording of what Stephen spoke.

I would like to note that most translations, including the original one you gave, don’t use the word “bodies” because that word is not there in the Greek. The translator is supplying that.

Also, it is possible that Abraham made another purchase not recorded in the Torah. I don’t anticipate that the Torah recorded every purchase he made. I consider this explanation to be unlikely, though.

So we have two contradictions in two verses. How can this be authored by G-d?

I have given reasons to think I may not have full information for what lies behind the verses. There may be other such reasons to be uncovered. I don’t know what the verse intends. In other words, it could be authored by God because I simply fail to understand either the historical context of Stephen’s remarks or the data in the OT. As the principle of talionis is easier to understand as something that is a good thing once you read what it has to say in the legal codes of the surrounding areas, so it could be that I am missing a piece of information here.


Perhaps Stephen made a mistake while speaking and the inspired author of Acts inerrantly recorded his errant address.

The Catholic Church only vouches that the original OT and NT writings were inspired and inerrant. Since, as far as we know, those original writings are no longer extant, perhaps our current rendition of Genesis, Acts, or both, contain minor copists’ errors at this point.


Well then how do you know what to trust anymore?


Well then how do you know what to trust anymore?

We trust the Church that Christ founded. Not because of what is written but because what existed in real time.

The Church does not look to the Bible to figure out what it believes or what Christ taught. The Church was given the teaching by Christ through the apostles.

The early Church of the apostolic age existed before the New Testament was written. We can see evidence of those early communities in the places where they were established.

The Church of Rome, for example, is traced back to St. Peter – in an unbroken succession. We might say, that even if all the copies of the New Testament were destroyed, we’d still have the orthodox Catholic faith, transmitted by the successors of the apostles.

Sola Scriptura-ists insists that every word (in every copy and translation?) of the Bible is inerrant. That is their only means of knowing anything, apparently.

For us Catholics, we have the Church. It existed and taught. We can see that in real, live people who are the successors of the apostles – the bishops who all taught the same thing.

The Church authorized the Bible as inerrant. This does not mean that every translation does not have an error. It doesn’t mean that every copyist (even modern tay copyists can make typographical errors in new editions) was inerrant.


False assumption on your part.

After all how could G-d not know something, but the NT says,

It doesnt say God said it - it is a second hand account by Luke.

So basically the Torah says that Jacob was buried in Hebron while the NT says that he was burried in Sychem, definitely not Hebron, and yet they are both authored by G-d…

So exactly how does this work?

Thanks for any and all replies! :thumbsup:

Here’s how it works: Jesus Christ has redeemed mankind through his own flesh and blood. The offer of salvation through Christ is extended to all people. Jacobs burial location is an irrelevent distraction.


I think the OP has a valid point. If any part of the Bible contradicts itself, even on seemingly minor points, then it opens the door to doubting the authority of scripture on major points. Here is a list of 101 contradictions in the Old Testament. I do not point this out because I believe that the OT is not the Word of God (some of these are silly and easily disproven as contradictions). However, since we (both Jews and Christians) believe that the OT is the Word of God, then we have to find a way to reconcile the alleged contradictions. We either chalk it up to a small copyist error, or we scour the scriptures to make sense of the “contradiction”. Sure enough, we find a way that it makes sense, if read in a certain context. I think that this is something the OP can relate to.

For Catholics, we recognize that scripture is written in a variety of styles-- literal and spiritual. So what sense was Acts 7 written? Literal or Spiritual? I think it has elements of both. First of all, being Jewish (or converting as I see from the profile), the OP might have missed the point of Stephen’s discourse–it is all about Jesus Christ. Though Stephen is speaking about Joseph and the fathers, he is sending a message about Christ. This is the spiritual sense of the discourse, in my opinion. As to the burial of Jacob, I think that all english translations are not the same so I am going to go with the most trusted Catholic version (the Douay Rheims). It says :So Jacob went down into Egypt. And he died, and our fathers. And they were translated into Sichem and were laid in the sepulchre that Abraham bought for a sum of money of the sons of Hemor, the son of Sichem. It is grammatically awkward in english, but it does not specifically say Jacob was buried in Shechem, only “they” were buried in Shechem, which could mean “the fathers”. And because I believe that the OT is also the authentic word of God, then I have to assume that Stephen did not mean Jacob was moved to Shechem.

The purchase of the tomb is slightly problematic, but not impossible to reconcile. One explanation is that Abraham bought the field whereas Jacob went back and specifically bought the tomb. Compare with Gen. 33:19 and Gen. 23:10-20. Josh. 24:32. Here is an article that has a further breakdown on the subject, with some discussion on the translation issues.


False assumption on your part.

I’d like to understand how.

It doesnt say God said it - it is a second hand account by Luke.

But the Catechism says that, “G-d authored the Sacred Scriptures.” My intrepretation is that Luke would have written it by the mouth of G-d, if this statement were correct. But since you have pointed out that this is a false assumption I am waiting on how this is.

Here’s how it works: Jesus Christ has redeemed mankind through his own flesh and blood. The offer of salvation through Christ is extended to all people. Jacobs burial location is an irrelevent distraction.

Not so. If my intrepratation of the Catechism is correct then there is an error in a supposed error free text. This would mean that the NT is not authored by G-d, and that any church or teaching that says it is is also not from G-d, and that is a big deal, for me at least.

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