Contradictions in the bible?


#1

I have aften heard that there were “Contradictions” in the bible. I am not a scholar in the bible and have never seen these alledged contradictions. I know though that the second I would seem full of myself that I would run up against someone that could “prove” that idea to me and I would go home embarressed and crying so I was wondering if anyone could tell about these alledged contradictions that I hear people talk about and how to correct this misconception? Thanks and God bless.


#2

I think depending on how you read the Bible you can interpret it to have many many contradictions. There are ones where numbers are repeated incorrectly, to relationships of people, etc. So it’s difficult if not impossible IMHO to learn any general rule how to deal with them.

However - the Bible is infallible, so if there is something that appears wrong, it’s because we don’t understand it. I guess it could also be due to a poor translation, which is why reading and research is always helpful. But in reality, the Magisterium of the Catholic Church is the best source to look for in the interpretation of the Bible, as this takes advantage of the existence of One True Church being around since Jesus Christ, the oral Tradition of revelation passed down by Jesus, as well as the Bible, to provide authoritative reference on what the Bible means.

Now the Magisterium does not interpret every last thing, so you may find situations that are not commented on by the Church. The conclusion there is that the mystery of Christ is one that we will continue to learn about in infinity, in Heaven, forever - so there is much that it would be impossible for us to know right now.


#3

There shouldn’t be any contradictions in the Bible because we have the CC to help us!:smiley:


#4

Upon reading your request, a couple of quick contradictions come to mine. First, the two lineages of Christ in Matthiew and Luke are different. Second, Matthiew has the holy family fleeing to Egypt after the birth of Christ and staying there for years, while Luke has Jesus being dedicated in Jeruselem at the Temple placing the holy family back in Israel eight days following Christ’s birth.

Contradictions between two witnesses is nothing new and should not discredit the truthfulness of Scripture. If anything, it shows that the sacred writers did not conspire to corroborate their stories, nor did the Church tamper with the original texts in order to alter or erase the obvious contradictions. In this light, the contradictions, then, provide evidence for the integrity and immutability of Scripture.

Finally, when we say that the bible is inerrant, we mean only that the theological truths in it are inerrant, not the historical facts described in it.

Mike


#5

The day of Jesus’ execution is different in John than it is in the synoptics.


#6

It is possible that the Bible may have some historical and scientific contradictions. However, that doesn’t at all discredit the Bible. The Bible is only infallible when it comes to faith and morals. When it comes to faith and morals there are no contradictions. Everything that has to do with faith and morals can be reconciled to one another. For example, the Old Testament required people to be circumcised, in the New Testament (Acts 15) the Apostles decreed that circumcision was no longer required. To someone who doesn’t know much about the faith it would obviously seem like a contradiction. However, the fact is that the old law of circumcision was a temporary one which was fullfilled by Christ, so therefore no longer binding. It was replaced by baptism and conversion of heart.


#7

[quote=trustmc]Upon reading your request, a couple of quick contradictions come to mine. First, the two lineages of Christ in Matthiew and Luke are different. Second, Matthiew has the holy family fleeing to Egypt after the birth of Christ and staying there for years, while Luke has Jesus being dedicated in Jeruselem at the Temple placing the holy family back in Israel eight days following Christ’s birth.

Contradictions between two witnesses is nothing new and should not discredit the truthfulness of Scripture. If anything, it shows that the sacred writers did not conspire to corroborate their stories, nor did the Church tamper with the original texts in order to alter or erase the obvious contradictions. In this light, the contradictions, then, provide evidence for the integrity and immutability of Scripture.

Finally, when we say that the bible is inerrant, we mean only that the theological truths in it are inerrant, not the historical facts described in it.

Mike
[/quote]

Unfortunately, that isn’t true.

**107 **The inspired books teach the truth. "Since therefore all that the inspired authors or sacred writers affirm should be regarded as affirmed by the Holy Spirit, we must acknowledge that the books of Scripture firmly, faithfully, and without error teach that truth which God, for the sake of our salvation, wished to see confided to the Sacred Scriptures."72

You may respond, “for the sake of our salvation,” but it is clearly parenthical. “and without error teach that truth which God wished to see confided to the Sacred Scriptures,” the reason being for our salvation, not as a modifier to what is truthful in the Biblical accounts.

Also see: Divino Afflante Spiritu, Providentissimus Deus

Excerpts from Divino Afflante Spiritu:

When, subsequently, some Catholic writers, in spite of this solemn definition of Catholic doctrine, by which such divine authority is claimed for the “entire books with all their parts” as to secure freedom from any error whatsoever, ventured to restrict the truth of Sacred Scripture solely to matters of faith and morals, and to regard other matters, whether in the domain of physical science or history, as “obiter dicta” and - as they contended - in no wise connected with faith, Our Predecessor of immortal memory, Leo XIII in the Encyclical Letter Providentissimus Deus, published on November 18 in the year 1893, justly and rightly condemned these errors and safe-guarded the studies of the Divine Books by most wise precepts and rules.

For “the sacred writers, or to speak more accurately - the words are St. Augustine’s - [6] the Holy Spirit, Who spoke by them, did not intend to teach men these things - that is the essential nature of the things of the universe - things in no way profitable to salvation”; which principle “will apply to cognate sciences, and especially to history,”[7] that is, by refuting, “in a somewhat similar way the fallacies of the adversaries and defending the historical truth of Sacred Scripture from their attacks.”[8] Nor is the sacred writer to be taxed with error, if “copyists have made mistakes in the text of the Bible,” or, “if the real meaning of a passage remains ambiguous.” Finally it is absolutely wrong and forbidden “either to narrow inspiration to certain passages of Holy Scripture, or to admit that the sacred writer has erred,” since divine inspiration “not only is essentially incompatible with error but excludes and rejects it as absolutely and necessarily as it is impossible that God Himself, the supreme Truth, can utter that which is not true. This is the ancient and constant faith of the Church.”[9]

Also, from Providentissimus Deus:

For the Sacred Scripture is not like other books. Dictated by the Holy Ghost, it contains things of the deepest importance, which in many instances are most difficult and obscure.

If dictated by the Holy Spirit, then to make accounts unreconcilable would be nonsense.

I’ve been curious as to how we reconcile the various biblical discrepancies myself, and I hope someone can give us a hand here.


#8

There are plenty of seeming contradictions and differences between even stories in the Gospels. It is important to realize that the Bible is not primarily a history book or a scientific treatise written to modern standards. It is important to know on the other hand that the content that bears on faith and morals is inerrant in that the lesson or teaching derived from the events are truth although even the events may not be 100 percent in agreement as to what happened. It is also important to realize that common idioms of Bible times may not make any sense today if read in the ordinary meaning we give the words today. Just like “raining cats and dogs” would totally mystify someone from Jesus’ time or even folks of modern times who live in another country. Evangelicals and fundimentalists get into difficulty because they want to assign modern meanings to words that had very different meanings 1900 years ago. There are many laws cited in Dueterotomy and Numbers that are very similar to the Muslim law or Sharia. Christians no longer follow many of these because Paul recognized that we are saved not by The Law of Moses, but by the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ who brought in the New Covenant.


#9

Here’s a couple. . . Q: Was Jesus’ first sermon on a mount or plain? ([/font]Matthew 5, or [/font]Luke 6:17)

A: Who says Jesus only spoke the beatitudes only once? Who says these two passages both describe his first sermon? Who says he always spoke either on a mountain or on a plain?

Q: Did Jesus lie when he said, “This generation shall not pass away until these things take place?” (Matthew 24:34, Mark 13:30, and Luke 21:32)

A: “these things” refers to the judgement of Jerusalem, which did happen within a generation, not Christ’s second coming.

Most other proposed contradictions require even less explanation than those above. Some are attributable to misinterpretation (Solomon’s stables), others are attributable to the necessity to phrase things in terms that ancient people would understand (bats being birds, rabbits chewing cud, Earth’s foundations, etc.). Some are philosophical, dealing with the complexities of an infinite God (merciful vs. vengeful, etc.), others are just plain irrelevant (what color was Jesus’ robe at his trial). All this proves is that the Bible can be twisted by taking verses out of context. (I have seen bumper stickers that state “God hates virgins” followed by Bible verse numbers, and I have read articles claiming that the Bible promotes the use of marijuana.) We are warned about these things by the Bible itself ([/font]2 Peter 3:15-18), which tells us that scripture is hard to understand and the ignorant or unprincipled will distort scripture to their own benefit.


#10

(Montie) I was wondering if anyone could tell about these alledged contradictions that I hear people talk about and how to correct this misconception?

(jmt) Hi Montie…there are several classes of alledged contradicitons that I’m aware of:

  1. Contradictions arising out of ignorance of the ancient authors’ language and how it is translated into a modern language.

For example, the apparent contradiciton that our Lord’s crucifixion on Friday and resurrection on Sunday doesn’t add up to 72 hrs (“three days and three nights”) results from ignorance of Jewish “inclusive reckoning”:

See: Three Days and Three Nights by Joe Crews and Richard Anthony
ecclesia.org/truth/3days-3nights.html

  1. Contradictions which involve two different ways of saying the same thing. For example, there’s more than one way to trace one’s family tree to the birth of any one individual within that tree.

The Genealogies of Christ by James Akin
catholic.com/thisrock/1997/9712chap.asp

  1. Many alledged contradictions arise out of shoddy Biblical exegesis. For example, you can’t simply pull two seemingly contradictory statements from the Bible without considering the context of the sayings.

Alleged “Bible Contradictions” and Silly Atheist & Agnostic Arguments Against the Resurrection (& Miracles) by Dave Armstrong
socrates58.blogspot.com/2004_03_28_socrates58_archive.html#108088770962645660

  1. Contradictions between Scripture and Science.

This one involves “Creationism vrs Evolution” - which is only a problem if you insist on an absolutely literal interpretation of the Creation Accounts in Genesis, which from what I’ve read, the Church has never insisted upon (“young earth” vrs “old earth”). I tend to think that Fundamentalists are setting themselves up for a fall and a loss of credibility by “going beyond what is written” to affirm things the Scriptures do not affirm.

Also, “Heliocentricism vrs Geocentricism” - which from what I’ve read from people who understand the physics and mathematics involved seem to affirm that - from science’s point of view - either system could be correct. It all depends on your point of reference. (but I may be misunderstanding them)…so, in any event, I’ll leave it to the Church to decide if either one is “part of The Faith”.

I firmly believe that, since God is the Author of All Truth, then there is no contradiction between Science and the Bible, but science has to work out what is actually “a fact” as opposed to what is merely “a theory” before we can see how science and the Bible are in harmony.

  1. Contradictions between Scripture and history. These, I think have to be investigated one at a time. The only one that I did a lot of research into was the alledged problem with Luke’s account of our Lord’s birth and the cenus Luke refers to:

(Joe atheist) Luke says Jesus was born at the time of the census of Quirinius which took place in 6 CE. Matthew says Jesus was born during the reign of King Herod, who died in 4 BCE. In fact, Luke says Jesus and John the Baptist were conceived 6 months apart - in the reign of Herod. Meaning Mary was pregnant for 10 years.

(John) No. The problem with your dating above is that you date the “census of Quirinius” as noted in Luke as taking place in 6 AD. Such is unfounded… The problem you stumble upon is addressed in the following article (which I have referred to earlier) by Rev William Most: (updated url)
ewtn.com/library/SCRIPTUR/09420A.TXT

From: CIN Message Boards: Apologetics: Atheism qua faith
cin.org/webboard/messages/25/1763.html?1120159010

Basically, when it comes to apparent historical contradictions in the Bible I defer to Scripture since secular history has been mistaken in the past to the vendication of Scripture.

Keep the Faith
jmt


#11

Love your neighbor but:
Luke 14.26:
26. If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and children, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple


#12

Thou shalt not kill but:
Apocalypse (or Revelations) 2:
21 And I gave her a time that she might do penance, and she will not repent of her fornication. 22 Behold, I will cast her into a bed: and they that commit adultery with her shall be in very great tribulation, except they do penance from their deeds. 23 And*** I will kill her children with death***, and all the churches shall know that I am he that searcheth the reins and hearts, and I will give to every one of you according to your works.


#13

Thou shalt not kill but:
"The LORD said to Moses, 'Take vengeance on the Midianites for the Israelites… The Israelites captured the Midianite women and children and took all the Midianite herds, flocks and goods as plunder. They burned all the towns where the Midianites had settled, as well as all their camps… (Moses ordered) “Now kill all that are of the male sex, even of the children. And kill every women who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.” Numbers 31: 1-18


#14

Thou shalt not kill but:
Deuteronomy 20:13-17

[font=Verdana]13 And when the Lord thy God shall deliver it into thy bands, thou shalt slay all that are therein of the male sex, with the edge of the sword, 14 Excepting women and children, cattle and other things, that are in the city. And thou shalt divide all the prey to the army, and thou shalt eat the spoils of thy enemies, which the Lord thy God shall give thee. 15 So shalt thou do to all cities that are at a great distance from thee, and are not of these cities which thou shalt receive in possession. [/font]

[font=Verdana]16 But of those cities that shall be given thee, thou shalt suffer none at all to live: 17 But shalt kill them with the edge of the sword, to wit, the Hethite, and the Amorrhite, and the Chanaanite, the Pherezite, and the Hevite, and the Jebusite, as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee:[/font]


#15

[quote=stanley123]Thou shalt not kill but:

[/quote]

You misunderstand the use of the word “kill.” The Hebrrew word signifies murder, not war or judgement.


#16

[quote=trumpet152]You misunderstand the use of the word “kill.” The Hebrrew word signifies murder, not war or judgement.
[/quote]

It also says, “thou shalt not kill,” not “I shall not kill.” :smiley:


#17

Hi, Montie,

You have heard the apologetics for the alleged Biblical contradictions, but I would also consider reading what skeptics have to say in return. To start, I would recommend that you read some of the back issue articles from the Skeptical Review by Farrell Till. They can be found here: infidels.org/library/magazines/tsr/index.shtml.

Also, browsing the Biblical Errancy and Biblical Criticism sections of the Internet Infidel’s library would also give you a general idea of the objections raised against the Bible’s alleged inerrancy. Those sections can be found here:

infidels.org/library/modern/theism/christianity/errancy.html
infidels.org/library/modern/theism/christianity/criticism.html.

Note: I don’t personally endorse every article, so I’m not going to defend some of them, but I pretty much agree with what Farrell Till writes.

Your Friendly Resident Atheist,

clarkal


#18

[quote=trumpet152]You misunderstand the use of the word “kill.” The Hebrrew word signifies murder, not war or judgement.
[/quote]

What does the following mean:
“Now kill all that are of the male sex, even of the children.”


#19

[quote=stanley123]Thou shalt not kill but:
"The LORD said to Moses, 'Take vengeance on the Midianites for the Israelites… The Israelites captured the Midianite women and children and took all the Midianite herds, flocks and goods as plunder. They burned all the towns where the Midianites had settled, as well as all their camps… (Moses ordered) “Now kill all that are of the male sex, even of the children. And kill every women who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.” Numbers 31: 1-18
[/quote]

Your misunderstanding the term “kill”, here is what the passage really says:1 The LORD said to Moses, 2 “Avenge the people of Israel on the Mid’ianites; afterward you shall be gathered to your people.” 3 And Moses said to the people, “Arm men from among you for the war, that they may go against Mid’ian, to execute the LORD’s vengeance on Mid’ian. 4 You shall send a thousand from each of the tribes of Israel to the war.” 5 So there were provided, out of the thousands of Israel, a thousand from each tribe, twelve thousand armed for war. …7 They warred against Mid’ian, as the LORD commanded Moses, and slew every male. 8 They slew the kings of Mid’ian with the rest of their slain, Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur, and Reba, the five kings of Mid’ian; and they also slew Balaam the son of Be’or with the sword.You make it sound as if the Jews were walking by and got bored so they went out killing left and right to pass the time. The truth is the midianites were bad enemies of Israel, BUT Israel didnt touch them UNLESS God commanded…for vengence belongs to God. No time has this attribute been disputed, God decides when punishment is enacted, in this case a command for war. The “kill” your confusing is unjust killing (eg when your life is not at risk) THAT is what its talking about, OTHER than that the death penalty for various crimes (including murder) was PART of the Law the Jews followed.
Anyway, BACK to the passage you cited, you LEFT OFF even more important info causing a distorted outlook of the passage:
14 And Moses was angry with the officers of the army, the commanders of thousands and the commanders of hundreds, who had come from service in the war. 15 Moses said to them, "Have you let all the women live? 16 [size=4]Behold, these caused the people of Israel, by the counsel of Balaam, to act treacherously against the LORD in the matter of Pe’or, and so the plague came among the congregation of the LORD. 17 Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known man by lying with him.[/size]
The way you posted caused serious distortion to the text. Those guys brought fornication and idols among the Jews, and the Jews that took part of those sins were also punished.


#20

[quote=Catholic Dude] Those guys brought fornication and idols among the Jews, and the Jews that took part of those sins were also punished.
[/quote]

and the chldren?


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