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The following message was posted in "alt.religion.jehovahs-witn" and "alt.christnet.bible" Newsgroups.
Someone forwarded me a list of supposed Biblical contradictions that has been circulating on a Jehovah's Witnesses mailing list. Below are some of the "contradictions" taken from this list [in black], along with my responses [in red]. Some modifications were made for posting here.
> Matthew 27:44 says both thieves reviled Jesus; Luke 23:39-43 says one of the thieves was saved.<
At first they both reviled Him; but seeing Jesus' calm demeanor and His forgiving of His enemies one thief came to realize Jesus was special and believed on Him.
> Matthew's account of Jesus birth show wise men following a star to find him; then he and his family are off to Egypt to avoid a supposed baby genocide executed by Herod. Luke knows nothing of wise men, stars, Egypt or the baby massacre; he has shepherds, an angel and the heavenly host finding him.<
The wise men did not arrive at the scene until months after the angels and the shepherds. So each is recording events that happened at different times. Note the following:
a. When the wise men arrived the holy family had already moved into a house. The census was long over (Matt 2:11). Don't believe Christmas cards that show them at the manger.
b. The star probably appeared at the time of Jesus' birth. It would have taken some time for them to travel from the far east to Bethlehem.
c. Herod killed all the male children two years old and under (Matt 2:16). If the birth had just happened this would have been rather excessive. But if Jesus was about a year old by now then his actions would have made more sense.
> Light occurs on the first day of the creation account, but then the sun is alluded to as part of the fourth day of creation.<
The source of light would have been something other than the sun. These are related questions are best answered by those involved in creation science [see Creation vs. Evolution Sites].
> The word day in the first seven chapters of Genesis can apparently refer to anything from a creation day, the day of Adam's eating of the fruit he is supposed to die (930 years?), a presumably actual day (rain for forty days, etc.) It can also mean, not night. Which does it mean, and how do we know it only means that?<
To answer the last question first, as in English, context determines the exact meaning of a particular use of the word "day" (or any word with more than one meaning for that matter).
As for the former, yes "day" can be used to refer to a longer period of time than 24 hours. Whether that is the case or not in Genesis one, well, there are many arguments pro and con that I don't have time to go into.
> Why does Adam live for 930 years, when he would have had no reason to suspect Yahweh used hyperbole or metaphor in the edict, "in the day of your eating it, you will die?"<
1. Adam died spiritually immediately.
2. "A day with the Lord is as a thousand years" and Adam died within that "day."
3. Adam originally was immortal. But with his sin he began to die, thus death was inevitable. So he died in the sense that he lost his immorality.
4. God was simply gracious and did not execute Adam immediately. Instead He killed two animals in their place (for the skins and as a pre-figurement of the death of Christ).
I personally favor the fourth; but the first is also likely.
> Joel 3:10 says, "Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruninghooks into spears..." Isaiah 2:4 and Micah 4:3 say exactly the opposite, in exact wording in reverse.<
Joel is referring to a soon coming war. Isaiah and Micah are referring to the distant future, either the Millenium or eternity, depending on ones eschatology.
>Moses in Gen. 17:1-14 states that God gave Abraham an everlasting covenant and that the token of that covenant was circumcision; which was also to be everlasting. But Paul says circumcision no longer matters (1Cor 7:19).<
1. The Hebrew word for "everlasting" can refer to a long, though not necessarily indefinite period of time.
2. The Covenant only applies to Abraham's physical descendants (the Israelites) and not his spiritual descendants (the Church).
> If one is an extreme literalist, Jeremiah's prediction of the seventy years of captivity did not come to pass. It was less than seventy years.<
The first deportation of the Israelites occurred in 607 BC, the second a few years after that, the third and the destruction of Jerusalem in 587 BC The Israelites began to return in 537 BC So from 607 to 537 means there were Israelites in captivity for 70 years.
>Jesus prophesied that the only sign he would give the Pharisees concerning his resurrection would be the sign of Jonah, "for as Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." (Matt. 12:39-40). If Christians can make this prophecy work, the Good Friday has to be changed to Good Thursday, however, since the Jewish day begins at sundown, make that Good Wednesday Evening."<
The Jews count a part of a day as a day. Jesus was buried before sundown on Friday, day one. He was in the tomb on Saturday, day two. He rose just after sunrise on Sunday, day three.
> How did Judas die? Matt 27:5 contradicts Acts 1:18. <
Two possibilities in reconciling the two
1. Judas hung himself in the "western" sense of using a rope. After he died the rope broke. He then fell headlong. Hitting the ground, rocks or other sharp objects "burst" his midsection causing his entrails to come out.
2. Judas used the Syrian method of execution to kill himself. A tree stump is sharpened (or a sharpened post is stuck into the ground). The victim is thrown onto the post. The post sticks him through the midsection. So he then is left hanging horizontally a couple of feet above the ground. This would cause him to burst open in the middle and have his entrails gush out.
So Judas could have "hung" himself by allowing himself to fall headlong onto the post from position above the post.
I personally favor the latter.
Note: For more detailed responses on supposed Biblical contradictions I would recommend getting one of the following books. The links below are direct links to where the book can be purchased from Books-A-Million.
Archer, Gleason. Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties .
Blomberg, Craig. Historical Reliability of the Gospels .
Haley, John. Alleged Discrepancies .
Geisler, Norman and Thomas Howe. When Critics Ask .
O'Brian, David. Today's Handbook for Solving Bible Difficulties .
In addition, Bible commentaries, Bible dictionaries, and study Bibles can be helpful. The New Geneva Study Bible: NKJV is particularly helpful in this regard (along with being an excellent study Bible in general).
><> Reepicheep <><
Note: All Scripture references from: The New King James Version. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1982, unless otherwise indicated.
Mailing List "Contradictions." Copyright © 1999 by Gary F. Zeolla of Darkness to Light ministry (www.dtl.org).
The above message was posted on this Web site and in the indicated Newsgroups in August 1998.
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