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Apr 12

Gospel Truth: Important Contradictions

This is my second post in a series on the New Testament Gospels. My first post was on whether the Gospel writers were eyewitnesses. Now, I’ll turn my attention to the contradictions between the Gospels.

 

Regardless of what anyone says, the Gospels do contain prima facie contradictory statements. Many Christians will at this point turn their efforts to show that these contradictions are only apparent or theologically unimportant. This remains to be seen in many cases. I’ll provide you some interesting examples and a brief look at attempted resolutions. You can decide for yourself if you find the resolutions compelling.

  

Possibility and Probability

When I mention contradictions, the response I often hear is why it is possible for this contradiction to only be apparent. There is a serious problem with this, including from the theist’s perspective. If there is one thing on which most Christians and non-Christians can agree, it is that we should be after the truth. If something in the Gospels is not true, then the Christian should want to know about it, and vice versa.

So then why is possibility a problem? When we are looking at historical documents, we can at best determine what probably happened. We can determine what is most likely given the available evidence or we can conclude there is not enough evidence to say. Possibility is largely irrelevant. If a text lends itself to a straightforward interpretation, for example, if there is no hint of symbolism or exaggeration, then we would need some probable reason to invite hidden meaning. Likewise, if a text seems obviously meant as symbolic or figurative, then we would need some probable reason to conclude it was literal. Consider Jesus’ teaching the he was a light to the world. It is certainly possible he meant that he would turn into a physical lamp for all time, but we would find this interpretation silly. It seems quite clear he is using figurative language and we would need reason to deviate.

So, if someone wants to offer a harmonization for a contradiction, they should provide reasons it is probable, not just possible.

  

Contradictions among the Gospels

Below, I’ve briefly described four contradictions in the Gospel narratives and the resolutions suggested by apologists. I’m not going to provide lengthy opinions on why I don’t find these resolutions compelling, unless requested; in which case, I can provide further details in the comments.

 

The Genealogy of Jesus

The lineage of Jesus is discussed in Matthew 1:2-17 and Luke 3:23-38. The Matthean account provides the lineage from Abraham to Joseph in 39 generations. The Lukan account provides the lineage from Adam to Joseph in 74 generations. So, what are the contradictions? Well, there are two issues. First, in Luke’s account, there are 54 generations from Abraham to Joseph (several more than Matthew). Second, there are altogether different names given at certain points. For example, ask yourself a simple question. Who is Joseph’s (the husband of Mary) father? Is it Heli or is it Jacob?

The most popular resolution for this is to say that one account is the genealogy of Mary, rather than Joseph. The defender of this will often say that men can be subbed for women in genealogies.

Why is this important? The messiah was supposed to be a descendant of King David, so these authors wanted to show this connection in support of their claim. We should wonder, though, how reliable these genealogies are.

 

Jesus’ Teaching Method

We have another problem that can be elucidated by a simple question. Did Jesus teach the crowds in parables or in more direct sayings? According to several verses in the Synoptic Gospels, Jesus only taught the crowds in parables; see Matthew 13:10-17, Matthew 13:34-35, Mark 4:10-13, and Luke 8:9-10. Then, contrast this with Jesus’ method of teaching in John. John’s gospel is filled with what are called the “I am” sayings. These are very direct messages, rather than the hidden spiritual meaning contained within parables. I will explore this more in my post on whether John is reliable based on its many differences.

I don’t know whether there is a clear favorite resolution for this, but I would imagine it would try to show that both could be the case. This argument would basically claim that Jesus gave some teachings in parables and some in direct sayings.

Why is this important? If Jesus really spoke to crowds only or predominantly through parables, then we have compelling reasons to question John. Many important theological positions are derived mainly from the clear “I am” sayings of John.

 

The time and date of crucifixion

Again, we begin with a question. When was Jesus crucified? According to Mark, chapters 14-15, Jesus was arrested after the Passover meal and crucified the following day. According to John, chapters 13-19, Jesus was arrested and crucified on the day of preparation for the Passover. The Last Supper in John’s narrative is actually not the Passover Seder, as it is in the Synoptic Gospels. These are different days. A good side-by-side comparison can be found here. The hours for when the crucifixion occurs are also different, but that seems to be of less importance.

Attempted resolutions for this conflict include saying the authors used different calendars or that Jesus and his disciples ate an early Passover meal.

Why is this important? This discrepancy may seem minor. However, it matters quite a bit theologically. Many scholars feel that John deliberately placed Jesus’ crucifixion on the day of preparation for Passover to show him as a symbol for the Passover lamb, which is traditionally slaughtered on that day.

 

Jesus’ demeanor near the end of his life

How did Jesus act during his last hours? Was he fearful and suffering? Was he calm and collected? Well, it depends on what you read. For example, see the suffering portrayal of Mark 14:33-36 and Mark 15:34, in which Jesus cries out, “My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me?” These are his last words before he dies. This is also contained in Matthew 27:46. Now consider the intriguing narrative in Luke 23:26-46. Jesus does a number of interesting things here which do not betray suffering or agony. He calms mourners, saying, “Do not weep for me.” He shows mercy, saying, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” He calms one of those crucified with him, saying, “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” And even at the end, he says, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” Those are his final words. In this portrayal, Jesus knows exactly what is happening, where he is going, and does not seem troubled or afraid. Finally, consider John’s portrayal. Jesus is more authoritative in speaking with Pilate in John 19:11. In this gospel, the final words of Jesus were “It is finished” in John 19:30.

A common resolution is to “mash” these differing accounts together to say they all happened. As Bart Ehrman says, you get the famous seven last words of the dying Jesus.

Why is this important? Understanding this seems very important if we want to understand how Jesus viewed himself and his role of being crucified. This is certainly an important theological question.

 

Conclusion

There are several inconsistencies among the gospels. I have outlined only a few here, but they are quite significant, in my opinion. I encourage you to read the accounts yourself and develop your own opinion on whether or not they can be resolved. I agree with Ehrman that, when we try to create a collage and say that all of these things happened simultaneously, then we rob each author of their individual perspective and theological goals. These differences make much more sense when we consider these authors were from different backgrounds and held different beliefs about the life and message of Jesus. Through their individual gospels, they each express their own views. Bear in mind, these were never written to be part of a canon; they were written to stand on their own.

  

What I did not cover.

I did not cover some major issues with John, the birth narratives, and the resurrection narratives. These will be given in more detail in their own posts as part of this series. There are some other important discussions that could branch off this topic which I also did not cover. These include textual variants in the actual manuscripts and contradictions between the Gospels and other books in the canon. Bart Ehrman is an excellent resource on both. Misquoting Jesus covers textual variants among manuscripts and Jesus Interrupted covers contradictions between various New Testament books, not restricted to the Gospels.

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  1. Brian Colon

    The Genealogy of Jesus

    Genealogies can be drawn in different ways. There are several very good explanations as to why the genealogies have differences between them, but for me to state them here would merely be to defend Biblical inherency which, for one thing, is not a core doctrine of Christianity and secondly is not the subject of your article. Your article was simply focusing on “Important Contradictions” or contradictions that have Theological significance. What is the significance here? That Jesus needed to be a descendant of David. Matthew and Luke show that He is the descendent of David in two different ways. Problem solved.

    Jesus’ Teaching Method

    <blockquote cite="According to several verses in the Synoptic Gospels, Jesus only taught the crowds in parables."

    This statement is clearly false. Several times in the Synoptics you find Jesus teaching in direct sayings. For example:

    Matthew 4:17 From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”

    In fact Matthew 5-6 is nothing but direct teaching. By contrast, John, which according to you contains only straight forward teaching, contains the parable of the Good Shepherd and His Sheep in John 10:1-21. Perhaps you might want to say that this was more of a metaphor then a parable, and I'd be happy to agree with you. But the simple fact is that John is not one of the synoptics, and most of the synoptic verses are the parables. It should therefore be no surprise that we don't find parables in John.

    The time and date of the Crucifixion

    Like I said before, I won’t be defending Biblical inherency and I don’t think you are attacking it, so I’m not going to dispute the discrepancies you mention here. However, I don’t believe you have sufficiently demonstrated the Theological significance of any of these discrepancies. All you say is that John might have deliberately falsely reported the date of the crucifixion on the date of preparation for Passover in order to show that Jesus is the Passover lamb. But why is this relevant? Even if John did this, it does not affect the Theological significance of Jesus’ crucifixion.

    Jesus’ demeanor near the end of his life

    Here you claim that Luke reports Jesus as being calm and collected and the other two synoptics report Jesus as being in anguish. I don’t want to accuse you of not checking your sources before writing this post, but I have to wonder if you even read Luke 22. Starting in verse 39, Jesus begs God to let Him not be crucified. It describes him “being in anguish” to the point that he sweat drops of blood (a condition known as hematidrosis.) Granted, by the time Jesus gets to the cross, he seems to be more calm and collected, according to Luke. This is why it is useful to have 3 other accounts to give us more information on what was going on during the crucifixion. But your attack was on the Theological significance, which in light of Luke 22, doesn’t seem to be in danger.

    I feel I need to note that it seems to me that you are expecting all four Gospels to equally report all aspects of Jesus. I personally think this is an unfair demand. We would not expect four independent reports of any other event to contain such symmetry. So if the Gospels are not going to be symmetrical in their reports, then that means that one Gospel is going to focus more on some specific attributes of Jesus then others.

  2. Mike

    Hi, Brian. Just a general note: I wouldn’t say any of these issues are gamechangers in theology, like attacking the resurrection or the divinity of Jesus would be. But I do still find them interesting and worth discussing.

    I wouldn’t say we can dismiss the different genealogies that easily. You say they show Jesus is related to David intwo different ways. True, but they are at least prima facie contradictory ways. This would indicate one or both is incorrect. There is no indication that either is giving Mary’s genealogy, etc. If you say that only one is correct, though, then you give up innerancy.

    I’m guilty of some loose speech in the next case. I should not have said only. I think the important point is that the teaching styles are quite different. I hope to go into this more when I do my post on John, which should be the next in this series.

    As you probably know, these gospels and other works of the NT were being formed during a period of development for the dominant theological doctrines, and there were several competing doctrines. So, I do think that John’s showing Jesus to clearly be the sacrificial lamb was influential in shaping this belief since John was considered important by early followers. I’m not sure why you don’t find it significant. Here is another reason it is significant – if John changed the date, what else did he change? While I disagree with inerrantists, I understand their plight because this question becomes increasingly difficult and widely applicable once you start acknowledging that authors and scribes changed things.

    I realize there are some similarities in the accounts, as with most things among the synoptics, but I was trying to highlight the differences that are at least prima facie contradictory. I was focusing more on the very end.

    I actually do not expect all four Gospels to be the same. I fully expect them, and just about any other similar work, to have differences. I think it’s actually the innerantist who has the unfair demand of them.

  3. John

    Hi, I am from Australia.

    Please find two references re the fabricated origins and political purposes of the Bible – political purposes that were intended to consolidate the worldly power of the church “fathers” who WON the culture wars of their time and place.

    http://www.beezone.com/up/forgottenesotericismjesus.html

    http://www.dabase.org/bloodsac.htm

    Plus an essay on the Spirit – Breathing Spiritual Way of Life taught and demonstrated by Jesus while he was alive

    http://www.beezone.com/up/secretesofkingdomofgod.htm

    Plus related essays on religion and Reality

    http://www.beezone.com/AdiDa/gnosticon/table_of_contents.html

  4. George Jenkins

    Hi Mike,

    I left a note on the other blog saying I was responding here. Hope you are still in touch with these. I’ll make some comments about your introduction and your first point. The rest will have to wait for later.

    I find it interesting that you go from “Now, I’ll turn my attention to the contradictions between the Gospels.” to ” Regardless of what anyone says, the Gospels do contain prima facie contradictory statements. ” in the space of two consecutive sentences. If you believe there are contradictory statements, why don’t you just say so and act accordingly. If not then the discussion is merely one about how something in the Bible, at first glance, appears to be contradictory. To switch to “prima facie contradictory statements” does nothing but suggest to the serious reader that you are dealing with issues that may only appear to be contradictory and can be resolved with some investigation of the subject. Having used the terminology “prima facie contradictory statements” indicates you yourself are not certain if they are really contradictory. Is it any wonder that some Christians would be willing to spend the time to explain the apparent contradiction, if indeed they perceive it to be a contradiction? At the outset I will say that there are many things in the Bible that I do not understand, most of them are not even apparently contradictory. I guess I am somewhat in the same boat in that regard as the atheist Mark Twain, who when asked if the parts of the Bible he did not understand bothered him, reportedly replied something like, “It ain’t those parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.” Hopefully, his sticking points were different from mine.

    In the next section you struggle with “Possibility and Probability”. I maintain that if you really believed what you were writing you would not be able to believe in evolution. I mean, really, what is the probability that life arose from none life? Of course you can take the cop out and say that evolution did not start until after life arose, but then you have to ask what is the probability that “beneficial mutations” would lead to higher forms of life. Even though it is highly improbable that life evolved, evolutionists believe it because they believe it is possible.

    From the other blog you will know that I disagree with your premise that , “When we are looking at historical documents, we can at best determine what probably happened. ” If one has a document that was true, your statement falls. I believe the Bible is true. Probability and possibility have nothing to do with it. If the Bible is not true, I have a problem, and like most Christians, I do want the truth. The truth is not, as you seem to imply, in setting out to demonstrate that the Bible is probably wrong, but in trying to understand what God is saying to us. As it is written, “Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” ” and yet the Bible says that “God cannot lie”. So lying is not possible for God. Is this a contradiction? Not of one takes the whole of the Bible into consideration. It is no more possible for god to lie than for Jesus to “turn into a physical lamp for all time” as you suggest. He could not do that.

    Now to your first point, The Genealogy of Jesus. Taking the whole Bible into account(I believe God does not like cherry pickers)as I said above that we must do several points are clear.

    The woman’s seed would be the conqueror of Satan. ” I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”(Genesis 3:15)

    God promised to establish David’s throne forever.
    ” I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.’ ” 2 Samuel 7:14–16

    A blood curse was placed on David’s royal/legal(male) line that precluded anyone from that line from sitting on the throne of David, ever. “Thus saith the Lord, Write ye this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days: for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah.”(Jeremiah 22:30)

    Conclusion: Jesus had to be the son of David through both the blood line and the royal line, but these lines could not be the same. Hence, the blood lineage though Mary; the royal lineage through Joseph.

    This is not something I even came close to working out myself, but the following link explains things quite well. http://ldolphin.org/2adams.html

    Some people think that studying God’s Word should be like reading “Dick and Jane”. They do not want to even put the effort into it that they would expend following the story line in a Jason Bourne novel. I believe God does not work that way. Paul said there are milk and meat in teaching. Some are still on the bottle and want to remain there.

    Hope this has been helpful.
    George

  5. Mike

    Hello again, George. I have a quick question for you and my response to your larger post will depend, in part, on your answer. Are you absolutely certain beyond a shadow of a doubt that your conclusion about the genealogy is correct? Is there any chance, however slight, that you are wrong and that they were really both trying to give Joseph’s lineage?

    Thanks.

  6. George

    Hi Mike,

    It’s my belief that the Bible as it was originally written is the inerrant word of God, not my, nor anyone else’s, interpretation. There are times when I thought I knew what part of the Bible meant and then found out later another part of the Bible shed a different light on the matter. Indeed, for years I believed that Noah only took two sheep on the ark. To me the analysis of the link did a reasonable analysis. I do not have the references referred to, other than the Bible.

    George

  7. Mike

    George, I’m afraid you didn’t answer the question. I’d like to answer what you’ve said, but first I want to know if you think there is any chance whatsoever you could be wrong.

  8. George Jenkins

    Mike,

    Sorry you misunderstood my reponse. Doesn’t the sentence, “It’s my belief that the Bible as it was originally written is the inerrant word of God, not my, nor anyone else’s, interpretation.” mean I could be wrong? In any case, let me state it clearly. The interpretation that I sent you could be wrong.

    George

  9. Mike

    Ok, good. Now that we’re on the same page, let me answer your earlier comment.

    My point about prima facie contradictions should be considered the first part of the essay, really. Consider the opening to be an introduction, and then I begin the piece. So, I begin with recognizing that, “Ok, we have at least apparent contradictions.” I’m saying we have things that at least require an explanation. Often, this explanation requires adding things outside of the story itself (kind of like unstated premises). Then, from that explanation they may or may not be resolved. Or, it might be better to say that the explanation could describe fiction or matter of fact. You seem to think it’s problematic for me to imply that they can be resolved, but I’m not sure why. I would expect that some of them would be. So, I don’t really get the problem in the first part of your comment. It seems based on a misunderstanding. Perhaps you think I am bound to the conclusion that every apparent contradiction is actually one. That’s not necessarily the case. If you’ll notice, I didn’t even really argue against the resolutions in this post. My purpose was to present a high level overview of the types of things discussed by critical scholars.

    Your first complaint about my section on possibility and probability is an example of the tu quoque fallacy and does not address the point. You also are not characterizing the position of evolution correctly, but that is too off topic for this post so I won’t address it here.

    Finally, we get to your objection against my probability argument and the reason I asked whether you were certain. Once again, you do not understand the point. You conflate whether something happened with our determining what happened in the past. We have an imperfect epistemic position. This was granted by you. We don’t have a hot tub time machine; we have to piece things together from incomplete knowledge and face the chance of mistake. From this epistemic position, we have proposed resolutions. The point of the probability argument is to ask, “Given all these resolutions, what is the chance that they match the actual matter of fact?” Maybe an example will help. Say you’re watching a magician doing a trick and you think you know how he’s doing it, but you’re not sure. Let’s say you’ve even got a few guesses and you’re pretty sure one of them is right. So, we can give some really high probability that one of your guesses reveals how the trick is really done. But then expand it to the whole act and try to guess how all the tricks are done. The chances would be lower for guessing all of them correctly than for guessing one. This is a necessary feature of probability and no argument changes that.

    Now, let’s consider your resolution and recognize that it’s not actually a resolution at all. You’ve argued that both Joseph and Mary had to be related to King David. Even if we grant that, how does that show that Luke wrote Mary’s genealogy and Matthew wrote Joseph’s? This is what is proposed at the link. You are arguing that to concur with other books both Joseph and Mary would have to be related to David. The resolution is that one book presents Joseph’s genealogy and the other presents Mary’s. Do you see that these are different claims requiring different evidence? So why should we think Luke presents Mary’s genealogy? This is especially problematic given two points. First, Luke foreshadows the genealogy being that of Joseph in 1:27, “to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.” Second, Luke clearly portrays the lineage as that of Joseph in 3:23, “Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry. He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph, the son of Heli.” As I explained in the original post, we need good reason to think the author was not trying to be literal.

  10. Mike

    George, no response?

  11. David

    Here’s another reason to question Luke providing an account of Mary’s genealogy, but subbing the name of a man in her place. Luke is notorious for featuring women – so much so, that a few scholars even speculate that maybe the author was a woman (probably not true, but just to show that it is fairly feminist for the time). In that light, and considering the significant character development of Mary in the early chapters of the gospel, it really seems like a stretch to say that Luke was providing a woman’s genealogy. I just can’t see any reason to postulate that as Luke’s intention.

  12. George Jenkins

    Sorry, about the delay. I had a response all written a couple of days ago and my computer locked up and I lost it. We have been having a lot of storms here and frequent power surges. I’m doing this as an email so I can save it as I go.

    You wrote, “Consider the opening to be an introduction, and then I begin the piece.” Apparently philosophy has a lower standard of rigor than material science. When I write a scientific report the executive summary, the introduction, the body of the research, and the conclusions had better all agree or I’ll have to rewrite it to ensure that they do. It seems you can go from “contradictions between the Gospels” to “prima facie contradictory statements” without any concern to the discrepancy between the two statements. The use of Latin does not make it any less a conflict.

    You wrote, “Consider the opening to be an introduction, and then I begin the piece.” I was always taught the introduction was the beginning of the piece. That is the reason I point out this problem with your writing. You take a strong stand and then you back off to a point that is easier to defend. My sole disagreement with your piece is not the statement, ” Regardless of what anyone says, the Gospels do contain prima facie contradictory statements. ”. I fully agree with that, Latin and all. There will always be people who will take a Biblical statement in isolation and claim it does not fit with another statement taken in isolation. When the two are taken together with other relevant scripture the apparent conflict is often resolved. Sometimes it is not; I still struggle with predestination and free will. On the other hand, some of my deepest discussions have been with Muslims about the Trinity and whether I worship three gods or One. They really like Deuteronomy 6:4., but if one can get them to look at all the books of Moses the apparent conflict can be resolved, at least with respect to that passage.

    Apparent contradictions are not a problem. They are really an opportunity for deeper study. However, I take exception with the statement, “Now, I’ll turn my attention to the contradictions between the Gospels.” This statement clearly says that contradictions do exist. It is right up front and lays the foundation for your piece There is a significant difference between contradictions and apparent contradictions. To you this may sound trivial, but as I pointed out in one of my pieces, “If you grant me one assumption at the start of a debate, I’ll prove to you that black it white.”

    Question: Are both your statements correct? If so, how do you reconcile them? If not, which one is wrong? Your first paragraph seems to imply you put more faith in the second.

    I believe my characterization of the position of evolution is bang on. You are the one who brought up probability and possibility. As such, I consider them open for discussion. If there is “an example of the tu quoque fallacy “(again with the Latin) here it does not come from me. When you bring up points to support your argument they are open to evaluation. If you do not want to have certain issues addressed, don’t bring them up.

    As I have tried to explain to you. I do understand, fully grasp, get the point, and comprehend your probability argument. As much as you may like to attack my intellectual ability to perceive what you are getting at, let me assure you that I get it. You seem to equate understanding what you are saying to agreeing with your thesis. I do understand. I don’t agree with you as to how your probability argument applies to the Bible. Your description of the magicians trick analysis suggests you have a basic understanding of probability, but I think your point could be stated much more simply by saying, if one increases the number of members in a set while keeping the probability of each member occurring constant, the overall probability of the whole set occurring will decrease. You state, ” The chances would be lower for guessing all of them correctly than for guessing one.” Your statement is not true if the probability of each member of the set occurring is 1 or 0. In the case of the Bible I believe the number is I. You don’t. We disagree.

    You wrote, “You’ve argued that both Joseph and Mary had to be related to King David. Even if we grant that, how does that show that Luke wrote Mary’s genealogy and Matthew wrote Joseph’s?” Do you dispute that this is what is written? Are you “granting” this because you agree, or because you don’t want to address the issue? I would prefer if we took each point as we came to it. Is that acceptable?

    You wrote, “Do you see that these are different claims requiring different evidence?” No, especially since the two are tied together in such a way that they work to provide a comprehensive resolution, whether you perceive it or not, to the questions being asked. They must both exist as complementary. You wrote, “Luke foreshadows the genealogy being that of Joseph in 1:27, “to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.” I really don’t see how saying that Joseph was a descendant of David in 1:27 in any way “foreshadows” that the genealogy of Jesus given two chapters later must refer to Joseph. To me your foreshadowing concept is more of a stretch than most apologists use in trying to explain parts of the Bible. As a matter of fact, the “pledged to be married” description means that either Joseph was not the father or they had premarital sexual relations. Why, would Luke use such terminology if Joseph were really Jesus’ father in a physical sense?

    You wrote, “Second, Luke clearly portrays the lineage as that of Joseph in 3:23, “Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry. He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph, the son of Heli.” As I explained in the original post, we need good reason to think the author was not trying to be literal.” I read this totally differently from the way you do. I see it as absolutely literal. Note that Luke says, “so it was thought”. Why would he stick that phrase in? To me that is a perfect way of saying what people thought, even though the Bible clearly states that Joseph was not His father. Just because it’s true that people thought that does not make it a fact. The fact is people thought that. The fact is the people were wrong. It’s the way we would speak today about something that was generally accepted as true, but is known by some not to be. One could write, “Hurricane Carter who was guilty, so it was thought, of triple homicide was given a degree by York University.”

  13. George Jenkins

    Consider the verse, “A blood curse was placed on David’s royal/legal(male) line that precluded anyone from that line from sitting on the throne of David, ever. “Thus saith the Lord, Write ye this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days: for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah.”(Jeremiah 22:30)”.

    Now what do you suppose people who want to attack the bible would do with that verse is Mary’s line were not given? in light of that verse, one who believed the Bible would be hard pressed to defend the position that Jesus was the descendent of David if Mary’s line were not given. Of course, one could always say that he must have been related to David through Mary and rely on the claim that the Bible is true to support that position. How far do you think that position would go with some of our modern scholars?

  14. Mike

    George, I don’t know how many more times I can point out your fallacies and errors in reasoning. I’ve already explained the introduction. There are things that apparently contradict, resolutions have been proposed, I don’t find them persuasive, thus, I believe there are contradictions. I’m making the stronger claim. This complaint of yours, which takes up a considerable portion of your writing, is irrelevant to whether or not the genealogies contradict. Of course, that shouldn’t surprise anyone because you don’t seem to care about relevance or logic. So I’m not going to waste any more time writing about this. I’ve provided verses that at the very least appear to contradict. I believe they do actually contradict, but I was letting my readers decide for themselves.

    Your evolution point, even if correct (which it isn’t), is a fallacy. I’m not going to address your fallacies other than to point them out. Bring some good reasoning to the table or don’t expect responses from me. I’m not going to teach you the principles of logic.

    Again, your probability point is a fallacy. I’ve already pointed this out to you. This is begging the question. Even you admitted that you have to consider it probabilistically earlier in this thread. Use sound reasoning. I’m not going to address this any further until you can demonstrate your ability to do so.

    Finally, we get to the point in your comment that is what this discussion should be about. You spend so much time on your elementary fallacies (seriously, this is day one stuff) that it wastes time that should be spent on actually discussing the genealogies. I will respond to that in a separate comment later today.

  15. Mike

    Actually, George, never mind. I’m not going to respond to your “defense” of the genealogies (which ironically barely even addresses the points against it). I pulled them out by themselves and re-read them and just realized you really don’t have a clue. You are delusional, as evidenced by your collection of comments on this blog. I was right the first time when I said I wasn’t going to interact with you anymore. I should have stuck with that. I am willing to have discussions with people who disagree and I do it all the time on a wide variety of websites. But sometimes you encounter someone who is so delusional they don’t realize how bad their arguments really are. You’re beyond my help. This is not a comment I enjoy writing because I like to foster discussion, but I value my time enough not to waste it. Good luck to you, and goodbye. I’m sure you’ll want to respond back with how I’d like to think you don’t understand and are making errors, but I’m really the foolish one and I can’t face the blazing sword of truth you’re wielding, etc. Have at it.

  16. George Jenkins

    Not really interested in “having at it”. I had come to see, that if you were not willing to address all that you had written and could not accept your errors then there was little point in proceeding. Even in what you wrote in your last three replies you seem unable to make up your own mind what position you want to defend. You wrote, “There are things that apparently contradict, resolutions have been proposed, I don’t find them persuasive, thus, I believe there are contradictions. I’m making the stronger claim. ” But on August 4th you wrote, “You seem to think it’s problematic for me to imply that they can be resolved, but I’m not sure why. I would expect that some of them would be. So, I don’t really get the problem in the first part of your comment. It seems based on a misunderstanding. Perhaps you think I am bound to the conclusion that every apparent contradiction is actually one. That’s not necessarily the case.”

    You said you were willing to consider looking at explanations, but in reality, from your most recent comments, it appears that all you want to do is defend your position, which had varied from absolute contradictions to prima facie contradictions. Perhaps, at last you have been forced to take a stand on one position. You write, “I believe there are contradictions. I’m making the stronger claim.” This is what I have suspected from the first; that you want to promote contradictions, not the resolution of “apparent contradictions”, oops, I guess that should be “prima facie” contradictions, and your probability thesis was supposed to “prove” that contradictions must exist because you dreamed up some arbitrary probability for each member of some arbitrary set of events, which by definition would lead only to an arbitrary result. That arbitrary result was supposed to prove the Bible has errors? Get a grip.

    Adrian Urias, in your other blog, http://foxholeatheism.com/biblical-inerrancy-is-not-probable/
    pointed out some obvious errors in your reasoning which you made an attempt to respond to by comparing your calculations on the Bible to a free throw shooter. Really? Biblical accuracy is no more probable than free throw shooting? Have you ever calculated how many claims the Bible has made that have been shown to be true? Perhaps that would be a place to start in order to obtain a base line for your probability calculations: that is, if you still believe that Biblical inerrancy can still be refuted by probability calculations.

    We will pray for you. Guess you can’t do the same for us.

  17. David

    I have to agree with Mike here. Your positive arguments and criticisms both are riddled with mistakes and fallacies. You also seem to spend a lot of time on trivial things, which I’ve always heard is a sign of weakness in argument.

    I looked at the other blog too and I thought the responses to Adrian’s criticism were correct. You seem very confused. I’m not an expert in any of these areas that you guys have been discussing, but I can recognize fallacies when I see them and Mike was right about that. You can’t expect people to want to continue engaging with you if you don’t even seem to care or acknowledge your mistakes in reasoning. It’s like arguing with someone whose reason for believing is they like the color yellow. There’s no logical connection and no point you make will matter to that person.

  18. George Jenkins

    David,
    You wrote that I “spend a lot of time on trivial things”. If you could read more objectively I believe you would see that there is no subject that I addressed that was not introduced by Mike. If Mike was unable to defend some of his statements he could either admit he was wrong or simply ignore my comments and try to make points where he could. Like Mike you prefer to use generalities, and not deal with specifics. This is generally the position of one who wants to make a point that stands against observable evidence. You will notice that with regard to the specifics of the two lineages that Mike did not demonstrate that what I wrote was unreasonable; he did, however, spend a lot of time trying to defend his probability argument. The fact that someone disagrees with you does not mean they do not understand you. It simply means they don’t agree with you. Don’t you agree?

    You must be very wise indeed to “recognize fallacies” in areas in which you are ‘not an expert”.

  19. David

    LOL! Fallacies are based on the logical structure of your premises and conclusions, not based on subject matter knowledge. I guess that was meant to be an insult. Haha.

  20. George Jenkins

    A fallacy is based on fact. How can you judge the whether something is false if you cannot understand the content? You may have the greatest logical reasoning method on earth, but if your facts and assumptions are wrong so will you conclusions be. Stick with the facts..

  21. David

    “A fallacy is based on fact.”

    No, it isn’t.

    Example:

    Premise – Grass needs water to survive.
    Premise – Humans need water to survive.
    Conclusion – Humans are made of grass.

    We have true premises, but a false conclusion because the form of the argument is invalid. You can give factual premises, but if your reasoning is based on a fallacy, then it doesn’t matter because your reasons do not lead to your conclusion.

    I don’t know if you’re realizing how bad this all makes you sound. You obviously don’t know anything about what makes a good argument. You sure think you do, though, and that makes you the worst kind of person to argue a point with.

  22. Mike

    I wouldn’t waste your time, David. He is completely blind to his own mistakes.

  23. George Jenkins

    David,

    The “fact’ is humans are not made of grass. Neither your “logic”, not the lack thereof, can do anything to change the “fact”. Your argument may have just as well come to the conclusion that ” Humans are made of grass.” as the opposite. Neither conclusion would change the fact that humans are not made of grass. It is one of the problems with trying to use philosophy and “logic” to try to solve problems that they cannot. However, I expect that some philosopher could spend a lot of time on the proposition that a nomadic group living on the Russian steppes could in some sense be made of grass, provided he defined grass as any green thing that grew from the earth and they did not eat fish.

    Consider the concept of the atom. Democritus used the word atomos to describe “the smallest indivisible particle of matter”. Over 2, 000 years later his concept was shown by Dalton’s Atomic Theory to correct in many ways; so much so that the term atom has stayed. An amazing insight.

    On the other hand, Plato used the term element, meaning “the smallest division(of a sun dial)” to describe “the most excellent four bodies that can come into being”; namely earth, air, fire, and water. The constituents, or so he thought, that comprised all matter. He even went on to generate specific geometric shapes for each of the Platonic elements. Euclid gave a more thorough characterization of their properties including a complete mathematical description. Aristotle added a fifth element which he called “aether” (Latin for Mike) or “ether” (for some of the rest of us). Now, the conclusions of Plato, Euclid, and Aristotle, were 100% wrong. Were they poor logicians? Was their logical structure wrong? You be the judge. Was their conclusion wrong? Most definitely. It is a matter of fact. The problem with using logic and probabilities to solve real questions is that there are no absolutes. Even Nietzsche realized that the rejection of God leads to the rejection of absolute moral values which eventually leads to nihilism. That is why God gave us rules to live by that not only cover moral and spiritual issues, but deal with practical things like mildew, leprosy, pork, and a day of rest. Indeed, if the Greeks had read Isaiah they would have known the earth was a circle and not flat. Not only that, but I believe that when we are told that we can know the invisible things of God by what He has created we are really being told to study His creation to learn more about Him. I believe that to God the Law of Gravity is just as sacred as the ten commandments. He just didn’t have to make a rule to get us to obey it. When philosophy tries to resolve questions that can be conclusively answered experimentally, it is no good use of time. Throwing words at a question and restating it and going on and on and on do nothing to change fact. Even adding detailed mathematical calculations to it does not change a single fact. If you have a question, do the experiment and love one another. If you cannot do the experiment, let it be, and love one another any way. Paraphrasing Solomon: in a multitude of words sin is not lacking. There is a reason the Bible says, ” Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? “

  24. Mike

    An overly long way of saying you still have no idea what we’re talking about. I’m not going to block you, George, because I don’t want to censor conversation, but you really ought to quit now. You’re looking worse and worse with each post. And since you don’t understand why you are so off target, you just keep going. You obviously know nothing about logic.

  25. David

    George was first using an argument in favor of his point. He gave reasons to support a premise that Luke gave Mary’s genealogy and Matthew gave joseph’s. We point out that the argument is invalid and now he wants to say “what good is argument and logic?” Classic Christian foolishness. You were using an argument!

    If you want to step into these grounds and argue for a point, no one is going to respect your bullshit excuses that logic isn’t useful. Only someone who doesn’t understand logic would say something like that. And for the record, yes, there were problems with the arguments of the people you mentioned. Either they were not sound or they were not valid. I could point out instances of each, but you still wouldn’t get it. Mike was right. I’m done wasting my time with a fool.

  26. George Jenkins

    Well, guys, David identified the fools long before you were born when he wrote,”The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. ” You two actually put it in writing.

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