ARE THERE CONTRADICTIONS,
DISCREPANCIES IN THE BIBLE?
Why is it so vital that the New Testament be written by the authors it has claimed? If the books were not written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, etc. then they were not written by eyewitnesses. If not written by people in the age when the events occurred, then no one would be around to confirm or deny their accuracy. The credibility of facts, historical records, and actual quotes could not be trusted. The real authors would be liars, fabricators, deceptive.
The papyri documents aid us in dating the New Testament.
The Chester Beatty Biblical Papyri contains the gospels, Acts, Paul’s epistles, and Revelation, and dates at 200 - 250 A.D.
The Papyrus Bodmer II has 14 chapters of John, and the last part of the last seven chapters, and dates to 200 A.D.
The Early Christian Papyri dates to 150 A.D. and was someone who had all four gospels.
John Rylands manuscript contains the gospel of John, and dates to 130 A.D.
The Epistles of Polycarp, (to the Philippians), written by a disciple of John, dates at 120 A.D. and contains quotes from the synoptic gospels, Acts, Romans, I and II Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, II Thessalonians, I and II Timothy, Hebrews, I Peter and I John.
The Letters of Ignatius, of 115 A.D., quotes Matthew, John, Romans, I and II Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, I and II Timothy, and Titus.
The Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians of 95 A.D. quotes Matthew, Mark, Luke, Acts, Romans, I Corinthians, Ephesians, Titus, Hebrews, and I Peter.
Fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls show the gospels were in circulation and read by the Essenes before 68 A.D....
Therefore, either real eyewitnesses wrote these, or there would have been eyewitnesses around to contradict the accuracy, the authorship, etc. These books claim to be written by eyewitnesses, for the author of II Peter says he was present on the Mt. of Transfiguration. (II Peter 1:16-18) The author of Acts claims to have been present at certain events. (Acts 16:11-12)
Were the authors of the New Testament accurate in their depiction of the events of that period? Sceptics have tried to attack for years, to discount Biblical records. But, examine the facts, and see the amazing accuracy of the Bible.
Luke 2:1-3 speaks of Quirinius and the census. Sceptics checked historical records and said, ‘no such census’ and Quirinius was not governor at that time. But now, archaeological proof has confirmed that there was a census every 14 years, and Quirinius was governor. He was governor twice, and the second time is the one that the sceptics had overlooked. The Bible proved more accurate than the secular historical records of the time.
Luke 3:1 shows Lysanias is mentioned... but history says Lysanias died in 36 B.C. The sceptics jumped on this, and said it proved that the New Testament was written sometime much later, and the author incorrectly decided to include this person’s name. Yet, an inscription was found in Damascus that tells of ‘Lysanias, the tetrarch’ dated between 14 and 29 A.D. This shows that there was another man named "Lysanias" of which historical records were shy of that information, at least until that ‘inscription’ was found.
John 19:13 mentions ‘the pavement’ (Gabbatha). Sceptics called it ‘a myth’ and discounted its reality, for it was not mentioned in historical records. Recently, a court of the Tower of Antonia was unburied. When the city was rebuilt in the time of Hadrian, it had not been restored, and when this forgotten place was restored, evidence of the place called ‘the pavement’ disheartened the sceptics.
REASONS FOR ALLEGED DISCREPANCIES...
1. Many so called discrepancies in the Bible are due to differences in dates of the passages. How many horses did Solomon have? The Bible seems to have a discrepancy there, but the dates are not the same. How many he had likely changed daily, and if two different dates record different numbers, that would be normal, not a discrepancy. How many cars do you have? The number would vary on the date it is speaking of.
2. "Who said it?" relinquishes many attempts to show discrepancies. ‘Thou shalt surely die’ was said by God. ‘Ye shall not surely die’ was said by satan. So, check who said it. Was it an inspired word of God, or a quote of a heretic? False prophet? Or sinner?
3. Many passages are part revelations, and need compared with other Scripture to get the full meaning.
For instance, the Bible tells us man is ‘mortal’ and yet it also says man is ‘immortal’. Both are true, when the context of each Scripture is applied. Man has a mortal body, and yet an immortal soul.
Paul and James both speak of ‘faith’ and ‘works’. Some claim there is a discrepancy in their teaching. Yet, both were inspired of the Spirit, how can there be? When studied in depth, we find they agree. It is like the story of the blind men who were describing the elephant. One said the ‘elephant was like a tree trunk, for he was feeling the leg. Another felt the side of the elephant was like a wall. A third felt the tail, a fourth felt the trunk... Each had a different description. Was any wrong? Or, was the truth found in putting together the truth of each. The same is found in reading what Paul and James taught on faith.
4. Some alleged discrepancies are different methods of arrangements of events. Just as in today’s world, different eyewitnesses will vary in some details, and yet, both be telling the truth.
When visitors to the tomb arrived, who arrived and when? Well, when one interviewed Mary Magdalene, details of that day will reflect what she saw, heard, and recalls. Another of the women, who arrived a bit later, may vary in some order, some things they saw that Mary did not, or vice versa.
Some writers write historical events minutely, and precisely. Others list the highlight. Some list total without regard to order. For instance, if you were asked ‘who did you talk to today?’ Would you give chronological order in your list, or just randomly list all those to whom you spoke. Some may leave out several, if the conversation were no more than a ‘hi’.
5. Some discrepancies are due to various authors’ different means of computations.
As, if you asked scientists, ‘how many bones in the body?’ Gray says 204, Dunglison says 240, Wilson says 246, and some others would say 208. There is no real disagreement, but the different ways of counting the same bones.
In the Bible, there are different ways of counting years. Some count part of a year as a year. For instance, December 1945 to January 1947 is 14 months, but some in Bible days would count that 3 years. When two different computations seem to disagree, it is due to different ways of counting years. In the Bible, if a baby were born the last hour of the year, an hour after birth, he is called a ‘year’ old.
6. Oriental idioms peculiar to a people is another source of alleged discrepancies. Hebraisms were covered in depth in a previous chapter. People, in that culture, had modes of expression that were peculiar to them.
The same thing happens here. On a sunny hot 100 degree day, you may have a person say ‘this is cool’. It is ‘cool’ but in what way, yes... but in temperature, no! We may say, ‘everyone was there’ and only truly mean that many were there. The culture has idioms of the day. The manners and folk culture needs to be understood. The Bible may say ‘thousands of thousands’ and simply mean ‘too many to count’. We are not to try to ascertain some specific number to be meant by that phrase.
Dogmas should not be established using figures of speech. For instance, when Isaiah said: ‘AS the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall God rejoice over thee." Are we to take that literal in details to be enjoined? Of course not, we understand the phrase to refer to the joy of God over His people.
7. Some discrepancies are due to the plurality of names for one person, object, or city. We do the same... ‘Dad did it’ or ‘papa did it’... Do we mean different persons? "John" may be called ‘Johnny’, or ‘Junior’, and the same person is meant. ‘Massillon’ may be called ‘tigertown’. ‘Canton’ may be called ‘hall of fame city’.
In the Bible, Jacob and Israel are the same person. Edom is the same as Esau, Hosea is identical in person as Oshea, Jehoshua is Joshua, and Simon, Peter, Cephas, Simon Peter, Simon bar Jona, Simon son of Jonas are all the same person.
8. Sometimes, words in a language can have opposing translations. In English, this happens also. We speak of a ‘cool day’ and a ‘cool event’. We speak of a ‘hot topic’, and a ‘hot stove’. We speak of a ‘fiery personality’ and a ‘fiery stove.’
In Hebrew, the word ‘barak’ can mean ‘bless’ or ‘curse’. The word ‘yarash’ can mean ‘to possess’ or ‘to dispossess’. The word ‘sagal’ can mean ‘to pelt with stones’ or ‘to flee from stones’. ‘Shabar’ can mean ‘to buy grain’ or ‘to sell grain’. The word ‘sacer’ means ‘holy’ or ‘accursed’. Translating and ascertaining an interpretation, requires a deeper understanding of language and culture of the times.
We are told to ‘fear the Lord’, and to some that may mean ‘to be in terror’ and to others ‘to reverence’. Yet, God meant for us to understand it one way in each occurrence. The question we need to ascertain which meaning is appropriate in each occasion used.
9. Some discrepancies arise from errors in manuscripts. Some letters are so similar. Manuscripts were copied then by pen, now by a copy machine. The penmanship of one person varied from another’s. Errors can be made in copying. Hebrew and Greek letters were used for numbers also. But many letters look similar, so sometimes numbers are misread.
10. Some discrepancies are due to the imagination of the critic. There is an old maxim: ‘a man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.’ Some critics therefore read of ‘similar’ events, and say it had to be only ‘one event’. But similar events are found throughout all of history.
If one speaks words that inspire and bless, some critics will try to invent discrepancies, imagine contradictions, and assassinate character. They call it ‘higher criticism.’
NO LONGER HIDING THE TRUTH...
In spite of the Bible being as plain as God could make it, and the normal, plain speech given, is still misinterpreted, misapplied, twisted, and convoluted. The Jews found Scriptural support to reject Jesus, and yet, they had to twist and misapply those passages. The holy inquisition found Scriptural support to go and kill and conquer. Slave owners found Scriptural support for slavery. Spiritualists find Scripture to back up their practice of speaking with the dead. Yet, all are twisting, and perverting true exegesis.
The attacks against truth is often by those who wish to poison opinion of the infallibility of the Bible. These nefarious attempts are virulent evil. They are ‘devices of the devil’.
We, the evangelical, orthodox believers have failed to adequately defend the Word of God.
In Acts 14:6, Iconium, a city of Phyrigia, but Cicero had recorded the city was in Lyaconia. So sceptics jumped at this apparent inaccuracy. In 1910, Sir William Ramsay found a monument which showed that Iconium was a Phrygian city. Cicero had been wrong, the Bible was correct. (Go figure, LOL)
In Acts 17:6, ‘politarchs’ are mentioned. The terminology is not found in classical Greek literature. Sceptics decided Luke must be in error. Archaeology has recently uncovered 19 different inscriptions that use this title. Five of them also make mention of Thessalonica. So, the ‘politarchs’ truly existed, and the Bible proved correct, and the historical records showed need of improvement.
Nelson Glueck, said:
"It may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a Biblical reference."
Sir William Ramsay was trained in a school that taught Acts was a mid second century A.D. book. Yet, his career as an archaeologist, seeking to verify that idea, came to the opposite conclusion. He said:
"Luke is a historian of the first rank; not merely are his statements of fact trustworthy, he is possessed of the true historic sense... in short, this author should be placed along with the greatest of historians."
Fulfilled prophecy shows amazing accuracy... Of the 333 details about the Messiah’s first coming that are detailed in the Old Testament, Jesus fulfilled all 333. The chances of such being fulfilled is one in 84 followed by 97 zeroes.
Daniel’s prophecy of 173,880 days (69 times 7 years).. till the Messiah be cut off, was accurate to the day.
God has revealed Himself through the Bible. In ‘parables’, Jesus taught that they would be understood by those who were wanting to understand, and not understood by those who did not.
"disciples.. Said... Why speakest Thou unto them in parables? He answered... because it is given unto you to know the mysteries... unto them it is not given... For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and to him that hath not, shall be taken away, even that he hath... they seeing, see not, and hearing, they hear not, neither do they understand... For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes, they have closed, lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. But blessed are your eyes, for they shall see, and your ears for they shall hear."
So, we have a God Who looks at man’s will and if they are not willing to convert, He will conceal, hide, and confuse them. If they are willing to obey, they will have things revealed and things taught to them.
Does the Bible contradict itself?
The Bible says that man is a ‘worm of the dust’ and also that man is a ‘little lower than the angels.’ The Bible says to ‘love’ and yet says to ‘hate Father, mother, brother, sister’. And the Bible says every man should ‘bear his own burden’ and also to ‘bear one another’s burden’. When two passages seem hostile to each other, we must read the context, search the Word to understand. Seeming contradictions are there by God’s design, to make us search, question, study... to ascertain a complex truth.
Consider these passages, said in the same hour by Jesus.
"All things that I have heard of My Father, I have made known unto you."
"I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now."
Did Jesus mean the word of 15:15, that He had told them ‘all things designed for them at the moment..." and in 16:12, we see that ‘those designed for understanding after the resurrection would be taught by the Spirit then? Or had Jesus made the teaching known to them, but that they were still unable to comprehend some things now, and later when the Spirit came, and events have occurred, things would come back to them, that Jesus had formerly told them. Later, Jesus did say the ‘Spirit will teach you all things’. This answers the puzzlement of these passages.
"Howbeit, when He, the Spirit of Truth is come, He will guide you into all truth."
The word ‘guide’ is ‘hodegeo’ meaning ‘to lead, as in guiding the blind’. The disciples had been shown much by Jesus, and later, the Spirit would open their ‘blind’ spiritual eyes to understanding all that He had taught them.
‘He shall receive of Mine, and shall show it unto you... all things that the Father hath are mine, therefore, said I, that He shall take of Mine, and shall show it unto you."
The Spirit would ‘receive’ the things already told the disciples, and then ‘show’ and explain, reveal, and enlighten these things unto them. What the Lord had told them, needed more illumination, more enlightenment to be fully understood by the disciples.
‘These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs... but the time cometh when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall shew you plainly of the Father."
Jesus began at that moment, to take what He had spoken in proverbs, parables, and stories, and began to explain things more plainly. As they grew, and experienced more, the Spirit would complete the lessons.
"His disciples said unto Him: Lo, now speakest Thou plainly, and speakest no proverb. Now are we sure that Thou knowest all things and needest not that any man should ask Thee, by this we believe that Thou camest forth from God."