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Thread: Alleged "Contradictions" in the Bible

  1. #1

    Alleged "Contradictions" in the Bible

    This thread is to discuss any alleged contradictions that you may have questions about in the Bible. In my experience almost all of these contradictions are resolved rather easily and are not really contradictions at all, but are rather imagined. However, there are a few that are a little more difficult.

    Here are a few reasons for supposed "contradictions" in the gospels:

    1) Christ and his disciples spoke Aramaic which was then translated into Greek and then translated into English. Obviously, there are a lot of different words to choose from in translation, which leads to some superficial inconsistencies.

    2) Use of synonyms: For example, you could say the sky was gray, overcast, cloudy, etc., and it would all mean the same thing.

    3) Christ said the same thing more than once. Since he had at least a 3 year ministry (probably 3.5 years) Christ probably repeated himself many times on many different occasions. This obviously explains why certain sayings are duplicated 'out of chronological order.' Christ could also have done the same thing more than once (for example, throwing the moneychangers out of the temple).

    So those are a few factors that resolve most 'inconsistencies' in the gospels. However, there is one rather difficult contradiction in Scripture:

    "Behind the second curtain was a tent called the Holy of Holies. In it stood the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which there were a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant" Heb. 9:3-4

    The problem is that according to the OT the golden altar of incense was actually in the holy place, not the Holy of Holies. So that would mean that the author of Hebrews was incorrect in placing the altar inside the Holy of Holies.

    This appears to be superficially convincing, but I have done a little research and found a few answers:

    The text literally reads: “behind the second veil was a room which is called the holy of holies, having [echousa, present participle] a golden altar of incense.” The verb echo can be employed in the sense of “belonging to,” i.e., in close “association with” something (cf. Hebrews 6:9). Marcus Dods observed that “the change from en he [within] of verse 2, to echousa [having] is significant, and indicates that it was not precisely its local relations he had in view, but rather its ritual associations” (p. 328).

    Theodor Zahn stated that the Hebrew writer was describing an “ideal relation” of the altar to the holy place (p. 364). John Ebrard contended that one is not required to interpret echousa “in a local sense” in this verse. As an example, he cited verse 1 of this very chapter: "Now even the first covenant had [echein] ordinances. . . " (p. 492).

    Of this passage, R.D. Patterson noted that even though the altar was materially in the holy place, “functionally and symbolically it was associated with the Most Holy Place” (p. 67). Another scholar observed that while the altar was locally situated in the holy place, “in its nature and idea” it pertained to the most holy place (Kay, p. 69). Professor William Milligan argued, on the basis of inference, that on the Day of Atonement the veil between the holy and most holy places was opened so that the altar of incense and the ark of the covenant stood in close proximity, and that it was from this vantage point that the author of Hebrews wrote (p. 230).

    Thus, a strong case can be made for the fact that the writer of Hebrews (9:3-4) was not stressing the location of the altar of incense; rather, he was emphasizing its theological connection with the most holy place of the tabernacle.]
    So it seems to be best to take the passage as related to the golden altar of incense and its relation to the Holy of Holies on the day of atonement.

    Anyways, this thread is for discussing any biblical contradictions, so post any that you might have questions about and we can resolve them.

  2. #2

    Re: Alleged "Contradictions" in the Bible

    One of the biggest stumpers is the cases where a population seems to extend from Adam-Seth-Noah but turns out later to have some problems, without complete information given about how they went bad or commenced mixing. Obviously a tendency toward attrition is always a problem. We can see it today, too.

    For me the biggest stumper I intend to read about at some point is the Kenites. I don't know if Abram would have had a non-Adamite concubine, so, was Keturah Adamite? I have Keturah leading to the Midianites and then to the Kenites. But I have heard Mr. Finck and I think Clifton Emahiser saying strongly at least once and probably multiple times that the Kenites are a problem people. It gets a little confusing because Zipporah, Moses' wife, was from a Midianite named Reuel (Jethro). Sometimes a person bears what looks like a problematic name but which turns out to be merely geographical, e.g. Ruth the "Moabite", who behaved completely out of character for a Moabite.

    Keturah's lines don't have to be pure for us, because it was through Sarai that we have Isaac, and then Jacob.

    Regardless of how the Kenite identity is resolved, it could never undermine Christian Identity because the Scriptures are overwhelmingly focused in a racial way. So one way or another I think it's a case of a detail that is missing from the Scriptures, such as knowing exactly how and when a given people got too mixed to be worthwhile, etc.

  3. #3

    Re: Alleged "Contradictions" in the Bible

    There's another item that occurs to me sometimes, perhaps more in line with what you mean about apparent contradictions.

    In Matthew 12:31 I get the distinct impression that 'blasphemy against the Holy Spirit' is the impardonable sin. But in John 15:5 we learn that if we don't 'abide in' Jesus, then we suffer the fate as described: cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.

    Is not abiding in Jesus the same as the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit? Because being cast into the fire seems pretty permanent. Or is 'not abiding' something else one can do to bring a bad end upon oneself?

  4. #4

    Re: Alleged "Contradictions" in the Bible

    I don't find your answer especially clarifying, because I don't see why they should be different; or, if they are, why there are apparently two absolutely condemning paths when one of them asserts itself to be the only one; nor do I see what qualifies as crossing the line in either case.

    I will propose a resolution.

    Blaspheming against the Holy Spirit is to encourage race-mixing (Bill Finck's interpretation, based partly on original sin = race mixing in Genesis).
    Not abiding means that you lose sight of the connections we have amongst ourselves as Israelites. This I base on John 15 vv. 9, 12, 13. Without grasping this connection we will be tossed out into the messy world of the Edomites, and other non-Israelite peoples. In other words I am inclined to the conclusion that the burning indicated here is not a permanent extinction of our individual spirit.

    When Mr. Finck and Eli James did a program about John 15, they didn't explain why vs. 6 doesn't mean permanent extinction. See especially about 1:18-21 in the audio file. But Mr. Finck is convinced, with good reasoning in other programs, that all Israel will be saved (though not necessarily with the same reward), so, in other words the full meaning is that John 15 doesn't foretell the permanent end of some Israelites, but rather illustrates the importance of a proper understanding in being fruitful.

  5. #5

    Re: Alleged "Contradictions" in the Bible

    No, I may well have mis-heard previous discussions of the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost. Here I attempted a proof that it relates to race-mixing, but I think now it does not. Thanks to Obie for setting me straight on that.

  6. #6

    Re: Alleged "Contradictions" in the Bible

    Quote Originally Posted by learingaboutCI View Post
    No, I may well have mis-heard previous discussions of the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost. Here I attempted a proof that it relates to race-mixing, but I think now it does not. Thanks to Obie for setting me straight on that.
    Beware of those who take the spiritual (like teachings on the Holy Spirit) and twist it to pertain to the flesh.

    Race-mixing is a clear violation of the seventh commandment but Ezra-Nehemiah more than proves it's NOT the "unpardonable sin."

  7. #7

    Re: Alleged "Contradictions" in the Bible

    Quote Originally Posted by K-2 View Post
    Beware of those who take the spiritual (like teachings on the Holy Spirit) and twist it to pertain to the flesh.

    Race-mixing is a clear violation of the seventh commandment but Ezra-Nehemiah more than proves it's NOT the "unpardonable sin."
    Regarding Ezra-Nehemiah, I'm looking now. In Ezra ch. 9, I find:

    For they have taken of their daughters for themselves, and for their sons: so that the holy seed have mingled themselves with the people of those lands
    In Chapter 10,

    Now therefore let us make a covenant with our God to put away all the wives, and such as are born of them .... Now therefore make confession unto the Lord God of your fathers, and do his pleasure: and separate yourselves from the people of the land, and from the strange wives. Then all the congregation answered and said with a loud voice, As thou hast said, so must we do. ... And they gave their hands that they would put away their wives; and being guilty, they offered a ram of the flock for their trespass.
    So you seem to be right. The Israelites had to set aside their dalliance and the fruit thereof, but they were pardoned, apparently.

    But then I am left once again wondering: How exactly does one blaspheme against the Holy Spirit? It seems like such an unlikely proposition. You have to attribute to Satan what is done by Yahweh, or vice-versa. How often will that come up? Virtually never, I should think. Or if the sin amounts to saying anything at all denigrating of the things of Yahweh, who hasn't done that in the times when we had little faith, when we are ignorant and likely to suppose that religion contains no truth?

  8. #8

    Re: Alleged "Contradictions" in the Bible

    It seems to me that the ascription of the works of God to Satan must be comparatively rare. I think that only a 'satanist' would even think in those terms.

    By contrast, ascribing to God the works of Satan must be fairly common, at least in ignorance. People who don't realize that organ transplants are satanic (I have only recently begun to familiarize myself with that idea), and who don't understand the Satanic influence in usury and how that gives Satan control over our lives, may well think it a 'miracle' that they can have a new kidney, or that the modern economy is full of 'miracles'. Now to some extent, the economy is full of true wonder, in that I think the Satanic influence is only partial. For example, Satan didn't create silicon, although he tempts people to use their computers for foul purposes.

    Anyway those are some of my reactions to the foregoing.

  9. #9

    Re: Alleged "Contradictions" in the Bible

    It's pretty common actually.

    A perfect example would be how scripture says the jews are contrary to all men yet lackluster Christians call them "God's chosen." Blasphemy!

    "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!" Isaiah 5:20

  10. #10

    Re: Alleged "Contradictions" in the Bible

    I am going to press on a bit, because I am so impressed by the logic Mr. Finck has put forward, which I spontaneously remembered while going about my day. The grammar and the overall case made seem excellent to me. I need a good convincing.

    Here is the argument. The “impardonable sin of blaspheming the Holy Ghost” sounds a bit odd. What's going on there? What if it is the 'permanent error of violating the distinctive breath of life given by God to Adam'? This is my contention.

    Objection 1: In Matthew 12, Jesus is discussing the problem of people attributing to God a work of Satan, and to Satan a work of God. The topic is obvious and cannot be race-mixing.

    This objection seems like a slam-dunk. Everyone thinks exactly this. However, Mr. Finck's scholarship should be studied more closely. For Mr. Finck, line 31 marks a new paragraph in the chapter. In other words, he considers it a conceptual inflexion [my term]:

    In the paragraph from v 22 to v 30, we have the blind/mute being healed, and the discussion of attribution. And then, a most remarkable discovery: Mr. Finck is of the opinion that the strong man is Satan, and therefore, the object is to be able to bind that strong man. I would have guessed that the strong man represents us, and that we want to be strong, and not bound up and plundered. But no. Totally the opposite. See Fincks' page, linked above, for that discussion. Also the KJV has “spoil” but G1283 can also be “plunder”, which is a perfect term, read on:

    The strong man, Satan, cannot be bound if attribution is mistaken, i.e. if you attribute to God the works of Satan and vice-versa. If you get attribution right, you'll be better able to plunder the "strong man's house", and, that if you're not gathering with Him, you're scattering. The passage makes more sense this way. We're entering land dominated by Satan, binding Satan, and gathering with Jesus the Israelites who are lost and without knowledge of their identity.

    New paragraph! “For this reason I say to you” etc. In other words, 'Given this, our project, to gather the Israelites, I say to you'. It seems very plausible that Jesus is moving into a broader subject. It isn't necessarily the very same subject as above, where the importance of attribution is being clarified. Here the subject is: Errors are always a problem, but a permanent blunder is to race-mix. 'If you want to go into territory controlled by Satan to help gather Israelites, you'd better not race-mix. You'll be doing the exact opposite; you'll be scattering.' It's a perfect opportunity for a clarification of this point.

    Objection 2: Race-mixing is pardoned quite evidently in Ezra 10.

    This illustrates that the sin of race-mixing is indeed not “impardonable”, but merely permanent in its effects. There was a sin offering possible for those who were willing to forsake the consequences of their error. But, those who “would not come within three days” “all his substance should be forfeited” (v. 8). This episode also illustrates that it was possible to devise a sin-offering for race-mixing (v.19).

    Objection 3: Race-mixing is already covered in Commandment Seven.

    The discussion Jesus makes about it, is another way of phrasing it. Race mixing is an adulteration, true, but it is also a permanent error contrary to the distinctive breath that was given by God to Adam, that makes it impossible for us to gather for Jesus. We can't mate with Satan's pals, and convince Israelites of their identity.

    Finally: there really can't be an impardonable sin, because all Israel is saved. It must be an erroneous translation from the Greek. This general topic will warrant a separate thread.

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