Session 6 - Resolving Supposed Contradictions

Session Notes

Supposed Bible Contradictions

Apologetics – Session 6

We, Christians, have presuppositions and these presuppositions are important as we think through these potential contradictions.

We believe in Plenary Verbal Inspiration

  • Definition:
    • God so superintended the writing of scripture, that every single word of scripture was exactly the word the human author wanted to write and exactly the word God wanted written.
  • The claim of scripture is that ALL of the words of scripture are inspired by God. Scripture is not onlyGod's word (it is that), it is also man's word.
  • Scripture always has 2 authors.
  • How do we know human authors employ their own minds to writing of scripture?

 Inerrancy of Scripture

  • Scripture, since God is true and does not lie, and inspired scripture, then scripture is Inerrant
  • In the original autographs the Bible cannot communicate anything contrary to fact, or anything contradicting itself.
  • Only the original autographic texts are inerrant.

We believe in the law of noncontradiction:

  • “If the Bible is truly from God, and if God is a God of truth (as He is), then…if two parts seem to be in opposition or in contradiction to each other, our interpretation of one or both of these parts must be in error.” -James Montgomery Boice

Popular Supposed Contradictions

Textual Contradictions

  • What is the order of the temptations of Jesus by Satan?
    • Matthew 4:1-11 and Luke 4:1-13
    • Reading the gospels vertically and
      • Reading the gospels vertically
        • Looking only at one gospel, in order to try to understand the major meaning the authors (divine and human) were seeking to communicate. In reading vertically, you seek to divide the gospel into sections, noticing the themes and major points given by the authors.
        • Example: 5 conflict stories in Mark 2-3. Meant to give the reader insight into the question: Why do the Scribes and Pharisees hate Jesus?
          • Four questions asked and the fifth asked by Jesus.
          • Mk 2: 7-8 Why does he say he can forgive sins?
          • Mk 2:16 Why does he eat with tax collectors?
          • Mk 2:18 Why doesn't his disciples fast?
          • Mk 2:24 Why do they do what is unlawful on the Sabbath?
          • Mk 3:3 Jesus asks whether it is right to do good or do harm on the Sabbath?
            • Response of the Pharisees (v. 6) they go and plot how to destroy Jesus.
      • Reading the Gospels horizontally- reading synoptic gospels side by side, comparing the story in one gospel with the same story in another gospel. Does something in this gospel highlight something specific compared to the same story in another gospel?
  • Temptation of Jesus
    • Why is there a different order? Is there something Matthew or Luke are emphasizing by their order? Which one is intending to give a chronological order?
    • “The majority of scholars conclude that Matthew preserves the original order with the purpose of narrating chronological sequence, while Luke reverses the second and third in order to emphasize Jerusalem as the place of the climactic temple test, in accord with the temple theme of Luke-Acts…Luke uses simple connectors, ‘and’,which do not imply chronological progression. ” (955). – Joel Green
  • How many angels were at the tomb of Jesus?
    • Matthew 28:2-5 – one angel; John 20:12 – two angels
    • How do you resolve this potential conflict?
  • How many Gadarene demon-possessed men were there?
    • Matthew 8:28 - two
    • Mark 5:2-3- one
  • Who was created first animals or humans?
    • Genesis 1:24-27 – animals then humans
    • Genesis 2:19 – seems to says humans then animals
      • “And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them.” (KJV) 

Theological Contradictions

  • Saved by Works or Faith?
    • The most common theological supposed contradiction is between James 2:24 and Galatians 2:26.
    • What is your resolution to this potential contradiction and what other Scriptures might you use to reinforce your position

Omission of verses (sometimes bracketed)

  • Mark’s ending – Mark 16:9-19
  • Woman caught in adultery – John 7:53-8:11
  • Notice in your ESV that both contain a disclaimer “the earliest manuscripts do not include…” and brackets the section as a reminder. 

Reliability of the Scriptures v Islam

  • We are thankful to have so many early manuscripts of the Old and New Testaments. This allows us to be able to have translation teams who put disclaimers like the ones we just looked at in your Bible.
  • Unlike Christianity, Islam does not have the same history concerning their manuscripts for the Qu’ran.
  • The 1st Caliph Abu Bakr (573-634) commissioned an official rescension or version of the Qu’ran. After this, copies were made and copies were made of those copies. This itself is not a problem, after all that is how the Bible spread with people making meticulous copies. Regardless of how well the copiers did, we do not have their manuscripts to compare against because…
  • The 3rd Caliph Uthman (579-656), afraid of textual variants and scribal errors took Abu Bakr’s official rescension and said that anyone with a copy must dispose of that Qu’ran. The authorities gathered up the Qu’rans and had them burned.
    • Let’s hear this from an Islamic perspective. Notice how this historical event is justified by the speaker as strengthening the authority and reliability of the Qu’ran:
  • What is your response to this? Should we consider the Qu’ran more or less reliable than the Bible and why?

By Alex Berger