Contradictions or Problems in Scripture


I just received an email from somebody that asked for answers to these 3 "problems" in scripture. They gave me a link to an apparently Jewish website that they got it from. Can you all give me some help on how to answer? Thanks!


(1) The Gospels teach that Jesus appeared to the disciples after his resurrection. We are unclear, however, whether those appearances took place in Jerusalem or in the Galilee (or at both locales). According to our reading, the Galilean accounts seem to rule out prior Jerusalem appearances. Where did Jesus actually appear? If he appeared in Jerusalem, how should we read the Galilean accounts?

(2) We find the genealogy of Jesus provided by the Gospels confusing. Who was Jesus’ paternal grandfather? (We notice that Matthew says that his grandfather was Jacob, but Luke says it was Heli). Also, we notice that Matthew declares that Jesus was separated from King David by only twenty-eight generations, but Luke’s list shows a forty-three generation separation. What does this contradiction mean?

(3) The genealogical line linking Jesus and King David seems to pass through Jesus’ father. But since Jesus was the product of a virgin conception, then he does not share in his father’s Davidic ancestry. How is Jesus a descendent of David?


Remember when the angel Gabriel visited Mary, his words included:

He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

And Mary responds:

34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

But she doesn't say, "How will this be, since I'm not of the house of David?"

It's important that Mary be of the house of David, but it's also important that his adoptive father, Joseph, also be of the house of David as well: his ancestors have a more solid connection to the royal line. You'll notice there are two different genealogies: one in Matthew 1, one in Luke 3.

Matthew was written with a Jewish audience in mind. It traces the genealogy from Abraham to David through Solomon, who was David's legal successor, and ends with:

16 and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah.

Luke, though, was writing with a Greek audience in mind, and traces Jesus' physical lineage to David through Nathan, who obviously didn't succeed his father as king. This starts with:

23 Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry. He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph, who was of Heli...

where scholars tend to think that it means Joseph was the son-in-law of Heli, rather than physically related to him, due to the original Greek phrasing. So that brings up the question of was-Mary's-father-Heli-or-Joachim?, but I don't know enough about Anglicized--ancient-Hebrew-names to go off on that tangent.

Anyhow, if you go back to your Jeremiah, you've got a big long angry passage:

24 “As surely as I live,” declares the LORD, “even if you, Jehoiachin[c] son of Jehoiakim king of Judah, were a signet ring on my right hand, I would still pull you off. 25 I will deliver you into the hands of those who want to kill you, those you fear—Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and the Babylonians.[d] 26 I will hurl you and the mother who gave you birth into another country, where neither of you was born, and there you both will die. 27 You will never come back to the land you long to return to.”

28 Is this man Jehoiachin a despised, broken pot,
an object no one wants?
Why will he and his children be hurled out,
cast into a land they do not know?
29 O land, land, land,
hear the word of the LORD!
30 This is what the LORD says:
“Record this man as if childless,
a man who will not prosper in his lifetime,
for none of his offspring will prosper,
none will sit on the throne of David
or rule anymore in Judah.”

So, God was able to keep his curse intact: Joseph was related to Jeconiah, but Jesus was never physically related to him. And yet, through Joseph, Jesus was able to connect himself to the major royal line of David. And at the same time, he was still technically of the House of David, since Mary fulfilled that qualification on her own by being David's direct descendant, albeit through a less significant branch of the family.


They appear to be using the classic bird in hand ploy. This is how I answered this ploy a dozen years ago on the Usenet in a similar situation:

I HAVE AN EASTER challenge for fundamentalist Christians. My challenge
is simply this: tell me what happened on Easter. I am not asking for
proof. My straightforward request is merely that Christians tell me
exactly what happened on the day that their most important doctrine was

Your goal is to cause the weak of faith to stumble. Your method is the
classic “bird in hand” ploy.

A Bird in Hand—

A young man, full of himself, heard about a wise old man that lived on a
mountain. It was said that this man could answer the challenge of any

Seeking to make a name for himself, the young man reasoned within himself
to outwit the wise man. Before he set out for his journey, to the
mountain of the old man, the young man bought a bird. Whereupon, he said
to himself, “I will hide the bird in my hands and behind my back. I will
then ask the old man whether, or not, the bird is alive or dead. If he
says that the bird is dead, then I will open my hands and allow the bird
to fly free. On the other hand, if he answers that the bird is alive,
then I will crush the bird within my hands and then show him the body of
the dead bird.”

You challenge Christians to harmonize the Resurrection accounts down to
the smallest detail. Your presupposition is that a failure to do so will
negate the validity of the gospel accounts, and more specifically the
validity of Christ.
On the surface, your challenge appears reasonable.
Upon deeper investigation, your trap is revealed.

What is the nature of your trap? It is revealed using the following
supposition. Suppose that all of our Resurrection accounts matched detail
for detail. You would be in this newsgroup challenging Christians to
prove the Resurrection!!! How so? Your logic would be this. “Since all of
the gospel accounts of the resurrection match detail for detail, then the
gospel writers conspired together to lie, and carefully rehearsed
together what they wrote. Therefore, the gospel is nothing more than a
conspiracy of men.”

The above supposition demonstrates the Win-Win nature of this game for
you. If the accounts match, then you cry “CONSPIRACY!” If the accounts
seem to show variations, then you cry “THE WITNESSES ARE NOT CREDIBLE

Which account of a car wreck will a courtroom judge believe? The
plaintiff has two witnesses that agree in general with the testimony of
the plaintiff. However, one of the witnesses says that it was cloudy. The
other witness says that it was beginning to rain. However, they both
agree that the defendant ran a red light and crashed into the car of the
plaintiff. On the other side of this court case, we have the defendant.

The defendant, also, has two witnesses. Both of these witnesses agree
with the defendant in every detail. As a matter of fact, they even
testify using the same order in rendering their accounts. Furthermore,
they even use similar, or the same, choice of words and phrases.

Which set of witnesses, above, is to be believed?

Of course, a judge will believe the witnesses for the plaintiff, because
it is normal for truthful witnesses to superficially disagree in trivial
details. However, it takes much conspiring together to make each
witnesses accounts match perfectly. This is a sure sign of rehearsal and
the extreme likelihood of fabrication. To be sure, produce for this
newsgroup two, or more, eyewitness accounts of the Pearl Harbor attack in
which the witnesses agree on every detail and in the exact order. One old
sailor will say 170 planes attacked. Another will say that it was over
200. Does the fact that they disagree disprove the attack on Pearl

The gospel accounts of the Resurrection at first seem to conflict.
However, on the major point that the Resurrection did occur, there is no

[Back to the story of the Bird in Hand]… What was the reply of the wise
old man to the arrogant young man??? It was this:

“It is as you wish it to be, my son. It is as you wish it.”

Are the gospel Resurrection accounts “false” because (a) They have minor
variations or (b) They match each other in detail so close that they show
a conspiracy of the writers, together, to lie to us the readers?

“It is as you wish it to be, my son. It is as you wish it.”

Your heart wishes for Christ to be a “fairy tale.” Hence, it would be a
"fairy tale" for you whether the accounts matched exactly, or they had
simple variations.


St. Augustine's work called the Harmony of the Gospels is a great work to have on hand to combat all the accusations made about the so-called contradictions. Here is a link to it, I have arranged it so it is easier to use and find those passages that you are looking for


The appearances happen in both places and I would disagree that linguistically this is ruled out by the texts. Further if Christianity is a concocted religion don't you supposed its fabricators would have have soothed these bumps over? So no I am not bothered by this at all.

The genealogy passes through two sons of David Solomon to Joseph (whose line is cursed and so he physically cannot inherit the Throne) and Nathan to Mary who is not cursed. The Heli Joachim thing was touched on earlier and you can look that up for yourself. Of course Jesus can inherit David's throne through Joseph all Joseph has to do is adopt him. We have Scripture to back this up in that neither Mannaseh or Ephraim were children of Jacob but they received equal inheritance with his sons because Jacob placed them on his knees and adopted them as sons and gave them the father's blessing. So Jesus is the rightful heir of Joseph and also of King David through the paternal line however without the curse placed on that line. BTW this is also true of not having inherited his would be greater father's curse which came in the Garden when God decreed that all Adam's sons will inherit Adam's curse. But Jesus is not a son of Adam and so has no taint of Original Sin.

Furthermore we have evidence of Mary being a daughter of David and not of Levi as many have supposed (which would bring together the priestly and kingly lines in Jesus) and it is from the most often quoted Psalm concerning Jesus in Scripture.

Psalm 110:4 4 The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind, "You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek."

The author of Hebrews picks this up and runs with it when he says...

Hebrews 5:4 And no one takes this honor for himself, but only when called by God, just as Aaron was. 5 So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him, "You are my Son, today I have begotten you"; 6 as he says also in another place, "You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek."

So Christ did not honor Himself to be a priest but was declared one by God.

Hebrews 7:1 For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, 2 and to him Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything. He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace. 3 He is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever. 4 See how great this man was to whom Abraham the patriarch gave a tenth of the spoils! 5 And those descendants of Levi who receive the priestly office have a commandment in the law to take tithes from the people, that is, from their brothers, though these also are descended from Abraham. 6 But this man who does not have his descent from them received tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises.

As Melchizedek's priesthood was without genealogy (he did not inherit the right to be a preist from his father as those in Aaron's line had) instead Melchizedek was made a priest by God and so had no need to for a descent of parentage to make him a priest. In the same way Jesus had no need to be of Aaron's line either because God had made him a priest.

And Hebrews 7:11 Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need would there have been for another priest to arise after the order of Melchizedek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron? 12 For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well. 13 For the one of whom these things are spoken belonged to another tribe, from which no one has ever served at the altar. 14 For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. 15 This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek, 16 who has become a priest, not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life. 17 For it is witnessed of him, "You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek." 18 For on the one hand, a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness 19 (for the law made nothing perfect); but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God. 20 And it was not without an oath. For those who formerly became priests were made such without an oath, 21 but this one was made a priest with an oath by the one who said to him: "The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, 'You are a priest forever.'" 22 This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant.

Here the author flatly declares Christ to be of the line of Judah (David's tribe) and declares He has no lineage with the house of Levi (Aaron's tribe) and so has no authority in the covenant of Moses to be a priest. However His priesthood is greater and higher than Aaron's in the same way that Melchizedek's was since Aaron's father (Abraham) gave tithe to Melchizedek so that Priesthood is greater than Aaron's, so also is Christ's priesthood greater than Aaron's.

So you see there is actually no confusion about this because the Bible gives us type and anti-type and in the case of the genealogies the Author of Hebrews actually explains it very clearly.

God Bless

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