Prove that the Bible is full of contradictions-- I double dare you!

Discussion in 'Comparative Studies' started by Marsh, Mar 15, 2004.

  1. Marsh

    Marsh Disagreeable By Nature

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    Here's a topic that was raised in the "Can the Bible be taken literally" thread. One member said that we cannot take the Bible literally because it is full of contradictions. However, this member didn't give a single example to prove their point-- nor do most people who claim that the Bible is a contradictory book.

    The issue: Does the Bible contradict itself?

    I'm not one to impose rules on others, but for the purpose of this discussion I would like to propose that people post one of two kinds of responses: either a supported argument proving a contradiction, or a rebuttal of a stated argument.

    And by all means, take the gloves off...
     
  2. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Staff Member

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    My intended purpose of the individual faith boards is that they may represent a safe place for people of said Faith to explore and explain it: to discuss issues between members of the same Faith, and answer questions from those interesting in discussing specific issues of that Faith. The preferred intention is for the Comparative Studies board to house critical examination of religious texts. My apologies that this has not been clearer thus far - I intend to update the Code of Conduct over the next couple of weeks.

    I am also a little wary of the actual title of this thread - it seems to be inviting confrontation.

    At the end of the day, on the issue of Biblical Inerrancy and contradictions, there are only interpretations and there are often divisive arguments about which actual interpretation should have ascendency. This is true even within the Christian sphere, let alone before Atheism starts ripping in.

    So I'll move this to the Comparative Studies board, and see if we can't have a wider disucssion about the actual underlying issues, translations, and interpretations, rather than see this thread artificially polarised into a Dennis McKinsey vs Jerry Falwell thread - as I fear it would on the Christianity board itself. :)
     
  3. Susma Rio Sep

    Susma Rio Sep New Member

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    Of no moment

    Actually for myself, I am not troubled by contradictions in the Bible.

    I know the message of the Bible, very simple: God made mankind. He chose one people to be His own, from which the Savior of Mankind would arise. Jesus the Savior came and died as an atonement to God to reconcile mankind with God. Now we are saved in Jesus. So, there you are. No amount of contradictions or errors is going to emasculate that simple message, not for me.

    Susma Rio Sep
     
  4. julienhr

    julienhr New Member

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    As, I believe, the last person in the other thread to write "the Bible is full of contradictions", I feel compelled to respond.

    First, I feel it is important to restate that I do not think that finding "errancy" in the bible is CAUSE for non-believing. The last post, below, is an example:

    Interestingly, this is not my interpretation of the Bible's message. And that does not trouble me, either.

    The problem, I believe, is the continuing schism between those who adhere to Biblical inerrancy and those who do not, and both groups using those views as ways of making a doctrinal point, or using those views to undermine each other. Therein lies the "danger" of the question. So, with trepidation, I will point out a few discrepancies in the Bible, if only for discussion. I am not harboring any desire to undermine anyones' faith. True faith lays in the heart, not the word (in my opinion).

    Compare Gen. 1:1-2:4 and Gen.2.5ff

    Gen. 37:25 The nationality of the people to whom Joseph's brothers sold Joseph is the Ishmaelites.

    Gen.37.28 The nationality of the people is now stated as the Midianites.

    Three separate and distinct versions of the Ten Commandments: Exodus 20, Exodus 34 and Deuteronomy 5.

    So, with hesitancy, as I said, I leave you those in particular, as was asked. I do not find it a problem for I read the Bible essentially as metaphor and see its' "flaws" as the work of men writing from an oral tradition. Of course there would be contradictions.

    I do not think it neccessary to reconcile and fight over these and any other problems of inerrancy. This tends to be an excercise in divisiveness and personally, I'd rather find our common bonds. Please take this in that spirit, if you can.
     
  5. achnai

    achnai New Member

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    My question is a bit off topic:
    Brian,
    Is that to say that as a jew I canot attend the christian borad for a purpose of pure study?
     
  6. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste achnai,

    what brian is trying to communiate is that these forums that are for specific religions are areas where those postings are of the "positive" kind. generally, argumentative discussions are reserved for the "Comparative" type forms wherein the textual validity of scpriture and so forth can be brought into play.

    actually, i think that a discussion of that type could be had on the religion specific forum in a respectful manner. that's not hard for this group of posters, but it's best to set a clear policy early.

    as always, brian has the final say on these matters :)
     
  7. achnai

    achnai New Member

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    Namaste Vajradhara.

    in that case we'll have to see what Brian has to say.:)
     
  8. achnai

    achnai New Member

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    I could not say it any better.
    the examples for contradictions in the Bible are various.
    and if i may add, there are numerous contradictions and in consistancies in the jewish oral tradition, namely rhe Talmud.

    The factuality of judeo-christianity in general and of religion in particular is based on the fact that religious people will always be part of man's society due to the fact that belief is one of the basics of human existence, and is independent of empirical criticism.
     
  9. Marsh

    Marsh Disagreeable By Nature

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    To vindicate my thread...

    It seems as if I've hit a nerve of sorts with at least two of you. I'm sorry if my phrasing seems a little controversial, but please be assured that my intended tone was actually light-hearted.

    By using phrases like "I double-dare you," and "take the gloves off," I was only trying to reflect the ferocity with which people have debated this issue throughout history. Now, I've only been a member here for about a week, but it seems to me that about 99% of the posts I've read so far are reasonable and logical, which leads me to believe that the people who posted them are, too. Certainly, then, we can discuss such a topic reasonably.

    As for the purposes of the different boards: like I said, I'm new here so I didn't know there was such a protocol. (By the way, Brian, maybe you should make a "confrontation" board for people like me-- with firewalls all around it so that I stay out of trouble:)

    Nevertheless, my query stands: Is the Bible a book of contradictions and, if so, what are those contradictions?
     
  10. Nogodnomasters

    Nogodnomasters New Member

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    http://www.infidelguy.com If you want to debate Bible contradictions. Atheists have grown weary of debating Bible contradictions. The apologists pile one absurdity upon another to explain contrdictions. A classic example is who is Joseph's father? The genealogies in Matthew and Luke are different. The apologist claims the one in Luke is that of Mary's even though it clearly states Joseph. So now there is no contradiction, except for the absurd fact the Bible claims the geneaolgy is that of Joseph and not Mary.

    "Copiest errors" is another classic excuse for the differences in the numbers of items between Kings and Chronicles. Fine- Again claim the Bible is wrong to avoid a contradiction.

    It is that kind of absurdity which Bible believers try to pass off as sane logic which makes debate weary.

    The book has a talking snake in it. That in itself should ring the logic and sanity alarm so loud to make one question the truthfulness of the doctrine.

    From where I sit "contradictions" is the least of the Bible's problems.
     
  11. JJM

    JJM New Member

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    Are you referring to the two differing creation stories. To me, and remember this is only an interpretation, one describes the creation of humans while the other describes the creation of Earth.


    I'm sorry to say that you are mistaken in this "contradiction." Well actually I'm not sorry because it simply confirms my faith more but regardless of that this is not what the verses say. If you read the story you see that Josephs brothers threw him in a cistern and left him there. Judah upon seeing the Ishmaelites say to his brother "what is to be gained by killing our brother and concealing his blood? Rather let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, instead of doing away with ourselves. After all he is our brother” (Gn 37:26-27 NAB) while his brothers where returning to the cistern to pull him out some Midianites pulled him out of the cistern. and took him to Egypt. When Reuben Returns to sell Joseph and Joseph isn't there he is upset. SO you see if you read these verses you find that Joseph wasn't sold at all but rather rescued before he could be sold.


    I don't see the ten commandments stated in Exodus 34 I see some rules given but it doesn't say they where on the tablets. As for Exodus 20 And Deuteronomy 5 I have counted 7 Differences between the two. 6 of these are simply Little things such as "Remember" instead of "take care" or "Your ox or ass or any of your beasts" instead of just "or any of your beasts" there is one big difference and that is the reason God gave for the Sabbath. One say it was because the earth was created in six days and God rested on the 7th and the other was because they where brought out of the land of Egypt. But that is irrelevant because the reason for this was simply that the human body needs a break. Where week and we aren't meant to work without rest.

    I realize you don't wish to Speak about these things in the chance it may cause some sort of resentment but I'd truly like to see some of these "contradictions" so that I may better understand the book. I’ll start you out In Jeremiah Babylon is always portrayed as doing God's will Nebuchadnezzar is described as God's servant many times. But then in the last two chapters it says that Babylon would be punished for doing God's will. The reason for this is because The last two chapters of Jeremiah weren’t actually written by him. ( or should I say dictated for he didn't actually write any of it.) regardless He didn't get those last two prophesies. He did get Prophecies about the destruction of Babylon but the reasons stated where most likely put in there by some disgruntled Jews who where mad because the temple had been destroy. I'll help you again. In Dt 24 God say to not Punish A child for his father or vise verse but God does all the time. I don't know how to explain that one anyone want to help.
     
  12. julienhr

    julienhr New Member

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    In response to JJM: I will be honest here, and say that I culled those passages from Spong's "Rescusing the Bible from Fundamentalism". I wanted to see what peoples' responses might be and from this, I thought, we could have some discussion. I'd haven't had the time to check what you've written above, JJM, but I believe you are sincere. And I am not out to invalidate anyones' interpretations.

    I am not arguing for or against anything or any one. I also want to stress again, that I think errancy shouldn't have the power to shake anyones' faith.

    I am troubled, however, with what I see as a general contradiction in scripture which I can only pose as a question: is God a God of love and compassion or is "he" a jealous, wrathful God?
     
  13. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Staff Member

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    Not at all - it is for the promotion of dialogue.

    However, if anyone sought to post in a particular Faith board simply to attack the people and beliefs of that Faith, then I should not be pleased. :)

    Comparative Study, on the other hand, requires some detachment and even insensitivity to Faith in order to make critical comments and evaluations. It doesn't mean to say any such hypotheses or conclusions may be correct - but by separating the purpose of the different boards, it does give breathing room for those who wish to explore issues of Faith, and those who wish to deconstruct issues of Faith.

    Hope that helps - but as I said, I'll try and write it up more officially soon. No changes in behaviour are required by members either - the vast majority of people here are very well behaved anyway. :)
     
  14. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Staff Member

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    That's very much a part of it, to avoid uncomfortable problems later. :)
     
  15. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Staff Member

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    Tone can be very difficult to gauge by the written word alone - in real-life we have facial expression, behavioural cues, and the context of the tone itself within the words - all of which convey intended meaning.

    Here we need other cues - such as as "smilie faces" to help indicate to others our tone. :)

    Besides - in all honesty, I really wanted to open up the scope of this discussion: I would really like to get some feedback from Jewish members on issues of seeming criticism and contention regarding the "Old Testament".
     
  16. Nogodnomasters

    Nogodnomasters New Member

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    Compare Gen. 1:1-2:4 and Gen.2.5ff

    My personal research indicates 2:4 is the beginning of second creation and not the ending of the first. There are differences between the two creations, with the first creation story being younger than the second text. This is a good place to break out your Wellhausen.

    The first two Genesis accounts have similarities and differences (i.e. man was made after the beasts in Gen. 1:25-26 and before the beasts in Gen. 2-28-20). The major difference is that the Priestly source uses the God Elohim and the “J” source uses Jehovah. The “J” source tends to have more astrological significance than the rest of the Old Testament.

    This text is a major problem for those who adhere to the world wide flood young earth theory.- i.e. creationist. When you ask this group about the Grand Canyon, millions of years in the making, they claim the flood reshaped the surface of the earth and created the canyon. However 4 rivers are identified in Genesis prior to the flood, three of which still exist today. So now the flood didn't reshape all the earth, just the parts that look very old.

    The part I like is how God, who is supposed to know everything- brings the animals by Adam so he can see what Adam will name the beasts. This indicates an older view of a god who was not everywhere, not all knowing, and perhaps not all powerful. There are many such cases in the Bible such as this which rears its ugly head. In fact the Hebrews were content with this style of God until the Greek influence. The Pythagoreans introduced this concept of the Monad to the world which resulted in the "Omni- everything" God.

    Jews, such as Philo of Alexandria re-interpreted the sacred books of the Jews to fit the Greek view of religion. The concept of the Logos entered into the Old Testament. The OT was mistranslated in a few places- deliberately I might add from Hebrew to Greek to represent new ideas.

    God was given a spiritual face lift.
     
  17. Marsh

    Marsh Disagreeable By Nature

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    Contradictory vs. contradictions

    I agree that debating over the small inconsistencies with single words and single phrases is tiring. But isn't there a difference between their being contradictions in a book, and the book being a contradiction in and of itself?

    What's the deal with the angry God of the old testiment and the forgiving God of the new testiment? How can they possibly be the same figure?

    Why are some people in the old testiment described as righteous, while in the new testiment nobody can become righteous unless they receive it by grace?

    How can God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit all be the same? How can Jesus be in the Father, the Father in Jesus, and both of them be one, all at the same time?

    Why do the apostles tell wives to submit to their husbands, while Jesus told his disciples to submit to everyone (the one who wants to be great must make himself the least)?

    These are the kinds of contradictions I am interested in studying: the kind that jeoparadize the integredy of the book as a whole.
     
  18. bananabrain

    bananabrain awkward squadnik

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    for judaism the problem can be framed in these terms:

    1. it is self-evident that the plain text ("pshat") of the Torah or Tanakh appears to contradict itself.
    2. whenever this happens in the pshat, an explanation must be sought in order to clarify the intent of the text.
    3. it is *axiomatic* that the text itself is not corrupt and retains its integrity; it is our job to explain, clarify and interpret the text so that it can be implemented in our environment.
    4. therefore when the text appears to contradict itself, we must consider this to have occurred in order to enable us to learn something that we could not have learned without a textual difficulty to resolve.
    5. the whole of jewish law and the oral tradition is centred on this eternal attempt to understand G!D's Intent.
    6. when the pshat of the text cannot be resolved through the hermeneutic methods established by tradition and precedent, more subtle methods are utilised relating to the deeper levels of remez (implied meaning), drash (metaphor) and sod (anagogical/symbolic language).

    criticisms that we're therefore "twisting the text" or "trying to get it to say something that wasn't meant" lack any credibility from a jewish point of view when not based upon a thorough knowledge of the *whole system*, context, language and frame of reference. from my perspective, "new testament" polemic aimed at "the law", the pharisees and so on must be seen within this context; these criticisms could equally well be aimed at the critics. the point is that nobody can *truly* say with 100% certainty that they know the ultimate, objective truth - although they can of course believe that they know it.

    with regard to resolving this problem:

    because they are different perspectives from different people. think of a mother - she is a loving mother to her children, a friend and figure of sexual attraction to her partner and, perhaps, in business, someone who is a tough negotiator and takes no prisoners. this isn't her problem - but it may well be difficult for someone else to understand. think of how problematic it can be to see our own parents as sexual beings, for a start! besides, the OT was written for jews and the NT for christians. as a jew, there isn't a problem there for me to resolve. it's a problem for christians because they don't generally understand what the OT is there for, who its audience is, how it works, and so on - even what it says, what with the language and oral tradition. the obvious answer is to seek to understand the "OT" from the point of view of its "target customer" as it were; in the same way, if i am to study the Qur'an, or the NT, or the sutras, i'd want to understand it in its own context. the NT is somewhat unique, however, in sometimes apparently requiring the OT to be something other than what its, er, consumer base consider it to be.

    b'shalom

    bananabrain
     
  19. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Staff Member

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    Also, with the issue of OT perceptions of God vs NT perceptions of God: it's certainly worth remembering the cultural circumstances of the two.

    In OT Judaism, the Jews traditionally received major revelation through Moses while, as a people, crossing the harsh and dangerous deserts of Arabia for 40+ years. And when the Jews settled again as a people, with a distinct nation, they were essentially living on an anvil between larger more aggressive neighbours: the Egyptians, the Hittites, and the various empires to rise from Mesopotamia.

    Therefore, from a simple anthropological viewpoint, if nothing else, the perception of God is often a mirror of those very harsh conditions - be obedient or perish as a people.

    By the time of the New Testament, the world of Judea is an entirely different matter - there is effectively a form of "world peace" at hand under Roman occupation. Sure, it's a fairly heartless militaristic one, but it still ensures that there are no major incursions by foreign powers, civil uprisings are quickly put down, and there are particular improvements in social infrastruture that the Romans bring with them - communications, improved road systems, etc (think: Life of Brian!).

    Of course, it's not all rosey - there's a great deal of factionalism and infighting: a lot is described by Josephus (he was even apparently based in Gallilee when fighting the Roman occupation); and something of these conditions can even be interpreted directly from the NT (for example, the Good Samaritan - I personally interpret this tale as Jesus shaming his audience with a parable about the enemies of the Jews treat Jews better than other Jews do).

    Overall though, there's a very Roman sense of justice and punishment in the oulook towards God.

    That's how I perceive the differences, for what it's worth.
     
  20. achnai

    achnai New Member

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    I would not conclude that the differences could be summerized from an anthropological point of view.
    Further, I disagree with bananabrain regarding the fact that the NT looses it's vitality faced with the diversity of jewish oral law.
    According to christian interpreters there is complete harmony between the OT and the NT. Many occurences in the Torah are symboles or shadows for things to come, to be fully implemented in the NT.
    The NT and the Talmud have a kind of similiar objective in helping to understand OT or the Tanach. There are many cases in which the Talmud simply interprets what is seemingly impossible to understand from the Pshat, and does that without Halchaic implications. these are the cases in which the objective of the Talmud and even the Midrash, is simply to solve literal or contigental difficulties.
    The NT has the same role as a kind of elaborater on the prophecies as they are apparently being fulfilled.
     

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