Bible Contradictions - A Barrier for Many Skeptics
Bible contradictions -- the alleged inaccuracies and errors that fill today's Bible translations -- are a major intellectual barrier for many skeptics. It's remarkable how many critics refer to their "list" of contradictions when they reject the Bible, but have never read the Bible itself. Of course, if the Bible does contain inaccuracies, it would show that those parts of scripture could not have come from a Divine source. However, it's very convenient to accuse the Bible of errors and contradictions, but it's a different matter to prove it.
Bible Contradictions - A Matter of Definition and Analysis
Bible contradictions must be analyzed under traditional rules of logic and reason. At first glance, certain scripture can appear contradictory with other scripture, but further investigation reveals something different. First, reasonable skeptics should agree on the definition of a contradiction. "The Law of Non-contradiction," which is the basis of all logical reasoning, maintains that something cannot be "a" and "non-a" at the same time. For instance, it can't be day and night at the same time and at the same place. Therefore, if a biblical scripture violates this Law, it has been established as a contradiction. However, based on the same Law, two statements can differ without being in contradiction.
For example, one witness in a court case might testify that he saw two people at a crime scene, Jake and Sam, while another witness may only testify to seeing Sam. These statements are not contradictory. In fact, in a court of law, these statements could be considered complementary. This is the nature of many of the alleged contradictions in the Bible. For instance, in Matthew, we read that Jesus met two blind men. In Mark and Luke, we only read about one blind man meeting Jesus. In Matthew and Mark, we read that Jesus went to pray alone three times in the Garden of Gethsemane, whereas, in Luke, we read that Jesus went alone to pray on one occasion. Under legal rules of evidence and the Law of Non-contraction, these aren't contradictory scriptures, and yet they make all of the infamous lists.
Bible Contradictions - A Matter of Translation and Context
Some Bible contradictions appear contradictory solely because of the intricacies of Bible translation. Analysis of the original languages of the Bible (Hebrew for the Old Testament and Greek for the New Testament) can solve many apparent issues. It's no different than any other textual review of translated material. All languages (including especially Hebrew and Greek) have special limitations and nuances that cause difficulty in translation. The historical context of the translation can also cause some misunderstanding.
For instance, the Book of Acts has two accounts of Paul's conversion on the Road to Damascus. In Acts 9:7: "…the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man." In Acts 22:9: "…they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me" (King James Version). At first glance, these accounts seem contradictory -- one says that Paul's companions heard a voice, while the other says that no voice was heard. However, the Greek text solves the matter. "The construction of the verb 'to hear' (akouo) is not the same in both accounts. In Acts 9:7 it is used with the genitive, in Acts 22:9 with the accusative. The construction with the genitive simply expresses that something is being heard or that certain sounds reach the ear; nothing is indicated as to whether a person understands what he hears or not. The construction with the accusative, however, describes a hearing, which includes mental apprehension of the message spoken. From this it becomes evident that the two passages are not contradictory" (W.F. Arndt, Does the Bible Contradict Itself? , pp. 13,14.). Therefore, Acts 22:9 doesn't deny that Paul's companions heard certain sounds; it simply says that they didn't understand the sounds that they heard.
Bible Contradictions - Earnestly Investigate for Yourself
It's utterly fascinating how many people reject God's Word by focusing on a little list of alleged Bible contradictions. Yet, when presented with the miracle of the Bible's structure, survival, integration, historical veracity, archaeological evidence, scientific insights, outside corroborating records, and hundreds of fulfilled prophecies (each of which far surpass any other "holy book"), people look the other way. When viewed alongside other historical writings, the double standard in textual criticism is obvious. Remember, "God is not the author of confusion..." (1 Corinthians 14:33). If someone presents you with a supposed contradiction in the Bible, take a moment to earnestly investigate for yourself.