Friday, October 5, 2007

Biblical Contradictions

A while back during a discussion a few people wrote that the Bible can not contradict itself. I was puzzled by that notion so I started to look for seemingly apparent contradictions in the Bible.
The first one that I thought about was the two creation stories. If you read Genesis carefully you will see that there are two separate creation stories. Same story two different versions. In my morning Bible study I came across Number 20 and compared it to Exodus 17 again same story two different versions. I then googled Biblical contradictions and there is a huge list of sites out there that list many different contradictions of the Bible. Most are from atheist and Muslim sites but that does not negate the appearance of the contradictions themselves. For myself it points to the need to have Tradition and Scripture to walk hand in hand shedding light on these so called contradictions.
Here is a list of site to investigate:
The Accuracy of Scripture
Creation according to Genesis

A List of Biblical Contradictions
The Skeptic's Annotated Bible
Bible Contradictions - Appearance Or Reality
Hermeneutics Catholic Encyclopedia
Countering Bible Contradictions
Are There Contradictions in Genesis 1 and 2?

If you read through these sites you will find that the average person does not have the knowledge, time or energy to go through and explain to themselves the answers to these contradictions. The average person needs someone else, someone with greater knowledge and understanding of many things including history, geography, Greek and Hebrew language skills and many other skills to be able to explain the meanings of these things.
Catholics have Sacred Tradition to help them understand and interpret the Bible. We have a system of the Magisterium and Cannon Law also.
I am wondering what your thoughts of this hypothesis are.

Added after original post:
I in no why was trying to say that there are contradictions in the Bible, just the appearance of contradictions that need further explanation which is why there is a need for Tradition, be it Catholic, which I believe is from God himself, or from whoever is giving his opinion in a commentary or sermon. My hypothesis is if there is an appearance of contradiction then we need someone to explain the contradictions and negate them thus Sacred Tradition is needed as is Church leadership and hierarchy or else we leave everything open to whatever interpretation that said person comes up with on there own, which I see as very scary.

For papal encyclicals on the official Catholic teaching of Biblical inerrancy and approach to interpretation see

Leo XIII (Nov 18, 1893) Providentissimus Deus (The Most Provident God)

Benedict XV (Sept 15, 1920) Spiritus Paraclitus (The Paraclete Spirit)

Pius XII (Sept 30, 1943) Divino Afflante Spiritu (Under the Inspiration of the Divine Spirit) --PP


motherofmany said...

If you believe there are contradiction in the Bible, you cannot believe it is God's word at all, because he has said all scripture is God-breathed, God cannot lie, God does not change, and that he would preserve the words for us forever.

"I would strongly disagree with the premise of your questions. Even the most severe critics of the Bible do not say that the Bible is "full" of contradictions. There are, however, some legitimate questions about Bible accuracy that can be raised.

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.

In both of these instances, the apparent inaccuracies can be explained because the events in one account could be contained in the other, which gives a more complete description of events.

There are sites on the Web that list Bible contradictions like these and offer an explanation of them. It might be worth your while to peruse this link: Here is a short quotation from that link to pique your interest:

"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."


Erika S. said...

Mother of Many- I do believe that the Bible is God's Word but at the same time it does appear to contradict itself. I have given to examples.
If you would please explain why there are two different creation stories and two different stories of Moses getting water from the rock.
I am not saying that the Bible does contradict itself I am just saying that we need someone and something to explain these contradictions.