on now ...
MAYBE you're not one of these people, but
usually when people say this, it means that they know of
one or a few supposed "contradictions" (or they really don't
know of any themselves, and just heard that there were), and use this
statement to broad-brush the Bible as an invalid document, in order
to justify their own hatred for what it says.
If you are one of these people, you probably won't really
be interested in an explanation, no matter how reasonable it may be. However, maybe I'm
wrong about you (too "judgmental" perhaps?), so perhaps you'd be willing to
check out the "why should I care what the Bible
On the other hand, if you are genuinely concerned that
the book that claims to be "the word of God" is riddled with absurdities and
contradictions, let me ease your troubled mind.
First, we need to look at one possible cause of
This is not really the biggest issue here, but I'll start
here first. One possible way we may have received discrepancies in our modern texts is
through copyist errors, which produce manuscript discrepancies.
The original texts by the original scribes were written
thousands of years ago, in ancient Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. As they were recognized as
the inspired word of God, they were carefully and accurately copied. Many times. Many,
many times. Along the way, mistakes have been made by those who copied it, by hand, letter
by letter, word by word, sentence by sentence.
We don't actually possess the originals any more, but we
have many ancient copies. To produce our modern translations, scholars need to examine
these manuscripts. If they run across any discrepancies, they have to resolve them as best
as they can. It can often be difficult to determine which words were intended, and which
Still, even these kinds of problems do not alter the
basic message of the Bible. Let me give you a couple of examples. Here's how John
3:15 reads in two different manuscripts:
- "whoever believes in Him should not perish but
have eternal life." (emphasis mine)
- "whoever believes in Him should have eternal
Not much difference in the message, is there? Here's one
more example, this time taken from Luke 2:43:
"... the Boy Jesus lingered behind in Jerusalem. And Joseph
and His mother did not know it" (emphasis mine)
"... the Boy Jesus lingered behind in Jerusalem. And His
parents did not know it" (emphasis mine)
Now someone might see this, get really angry, and start
yelling at me, "SEE, THAT LAST VERSION CONTRADICTS THE VERSES THAT SAY JESUS IS THE
SON OF GOD!! IT SAYS THAT JOSEPH WAS JESUS' FATHER!!!"
Hardly. The Bible clearly teaches that God was Jesus'
father, and this verse could be easily taken as a figure of speech. I, for example, am
adopted. I consider my adopted parents to be my parents, and I call them "Mom"
and "Dad," even though they aren't my literal, genetic parents.
Get the idea? 'Nuff said about copyist errors.
Here's the major thing that folks fail to consider when
they say that the Bible is full of contradictions:
What do these supposedly "contradictory"
verses really mean?
Here's a classic example. Matthew 12:40 says that Christ
would be buried for "three days and three nights," but Mark 15:25, 42, 44, 45,
46, and 16:9 indicate that He was only buried from Friday evening through Sunday morning.
That seems pretty contradictory, doesn't it?
It might, until you understand that Matthew 12:40 uses a
common Oriental figure of speech. In that cultural setting, any part of a day was
considered as a whole day, so a "day and a night" was not necessarily a full 24
hour period. Since the burial began on Friday and ended on Sunday, it was considered a
3-day burial. And the common way to describe such a three-day period was "three days
and three nights."
No big deal really, but it does take a little research
and common sense.
This really goes back to the issue of "how do you
interpret the Bible?" If you haven't already been there, you should check out the
page on Bible interpretation.
In the meanwhile, here's an overview and
explanation of many of the other supposed Biblical
Contradictions. If you really take the time to seriously check it out, you
will realize that God has never contradicted Himself. Humans often contradict themselves by not getting all the
facts; God never does.