Does The Bible Contradict Itself?

by Shlomoh
June 27, 2018

What's the biggest contradiction in the Bible?
Mark T Loy
Answered April 25, 2018
First of all, let me point out the obvious:


We say that a statement or set of statements is logically consistent when it involves no logical contradiction. A logical contradiction is the conjunction of a statement S and its denial not-S. In logic, it is a fundamental law- the law of noncontradiction- that a statement and its denial cannot both be true at the same time. Here are some simple examples of contradictions.

I love you and I don't love you.
Butch is married to Barb but Barb is not married to Butch.
I know I promised to show up today, but I don't see why I should come if I don't feel like it.
The restaurant opens at five o'clock and it begins serving between four and nine.
John Lasagna will be a little late for the party. He died yesterday.
Joe is a married bachelor.
Phil drew a square circle.
In light of the Bible a contradiction would be if one gospel said that Jesus was born, lived, did his ministry, and died in China while another stated that Jesus was born, lived, did his ministry, and died in Judea.

In light of this well established, even ancient, the definition of contradiction, I would encourage someone to actually find a contradiction that fulfills these requirements (Spoiler Alert: You can’t).

A lot of answers here point out inconsistencies in the Bible. There are things that can be seen as inconsistent.

For example, one gospel says that Jesus cleared out the temple at the beginning of his ministry and the other says that it was more toward the end of his ministry.

This can be countered with: Maybe he did it twice. Once at the beginning and again at the end.

Another point is that these inconsistencies in the narrative of Jesus’ life are more evidence that the accounts are actually ancient and not written far after the fact by Christian monks in a monastery somewhere. The ancients didn’t strive for accurate timetables, but the accurate telling of deeds. “These are the deeds of this ancient person” is what an ancient biography is, and not a hyper-accurate account of a timeline. History is a more recent field of study than that. What I’m saying is that the point the gospels are trying to communicate is that Jesus cleared out the temple….not WHEN he cleared it out.

Finally, NONE of these inconsistencies (or ignorantly perceived contradictions) makes ANY dent in the message, Theology, or morality communicated by the biblical text WHATSOEVER.

June 27, 2018 - My Response:

People who make remarks such as "the Bible contradicts itself " imagine that the Bible is a single book. It's not. It's a series of books written and edited over the space of several millennia. The books were composed by different men [or women] who lived in different eras and saw events from their own personal perspective. Let's take the accepted gospels for example.
Mark was composed about 70CE after the Jews lost the war against Rome.
Matthew wrote his gospel about 80CE when Jews were recovering from the loss.
Luke was penned about 90CE when it became obvious that Jews were not going to accept Jesus as Messiah,
and John was written about 100CE to express anger towards Jews for rejecting Jesus and to blame them for Jesus' death.

Mark's intent was to convince the Roman Empire that Christians are not rebellious Jews and are loyal to the Empire. In fact, Mark goes on to show that even Jesus felt alienated from his family and his people; he is a messiah but not necessarily the Messiah that the Jews are expecting. As a result, the Jews did nothing to interfere with the arrest and execution of Jesus.

Matthew, possibly the only Jewish evangelist, thinks the Jews simply misunderstood who Jesus was. He feels that even though the rabbis rejected Jesus, the poor, simple people just didn't know what to believe, and his intent is to show that Jesus was a serious teacher whose outlook on the TORAH was different from that of the Pharisees but that the people were swayed by the rabbis. Jesus is the true temple of God and Jewish unbelief will lead to the destruction of the Temple on the hill. Nevertheless, Jews must continue to follow the commandments in the TORAH which will eventually lead them to recognize Jesus as their messiah.

Luke is a convert to completely gentilized Christianity. He may be one of the first to realize that the Jesus religion is not Judaism. Yes, Jesus preached to the Jews but in the end, he became the savior for nonJews. Since by his time, Jews were politically powerless, he no longer feels the need to convince Rome that Christians are the friends of Caesar.

John's outlook changes much. For John, Jesus has moved completely away from being a Jewish messiah. He is now a pre-existent deity, an aspect of God; he is Christ and God at the same time, and the Jews are consigned to perdition because they, being the devil's agents, are doomed to eternal punishment for actually killing Jesus rather than the Romans being the executioners.

The gospels are not contradictory. They look at divine history from what has happened at the time when they chose to write.

Another more important example, the image of who God is and how He interacts with humanity.

There are many verses scattered throughout the various books that picture God as loving and protecting the righteous, those who follow His commandments. Yet if one looks at Psalm 44 or the book of Job, one sees a God who will not intervene when His saints are in distress or suffering.

These are not contradictions. They are not even inconsistencies since they come from different men from different circumstances in different time periods. They show a multifaceted view of God, man, and life.

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