Bible Errors and Contradictions

Bible debates, perhaps more than any other debate topic, can become lost in endless details of interpretation and subtle questions of translation.  It can easily seem that to get into the debate at all requires one to be a Biblical scholar.  Fortunately, this is not the case, particularly when dealing with fundamentalists who claim that the Bible is free of error and contradiction.The claim of Biblical inerrancy puts the Christian in the position of not just claiming that the original Bible was free of error (and, remember, none of the original autograph manuscripts exist) but that their modern version of the Bible is the end result of an error-free history of copying and translation beginning with the originals.

Such a position is so specific that it allows one to falsify it simply by reference to the Bible itself.  For example, Gen 32:30 states, “…for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.”  However, John 1:18 states, “No man hath seen God at any time…”  Both statements cannot be true.  Either there is an error of fact, or an error of translation.  In either case, there is an error. And if there is an error, then infallibility of the Bible (in this case the King James Version) is falsified.  A typical defense used here is to look up the meaning of the original Hebrew / Greek, read that one of the words can have multiple meanings, and then pick the meaning that seems to break the contradiction.  For example, the Christian might argue that “seen” or “face” means one thing in the first scripture, and something completely different in the second.

The logical flaw in this approach is that it amounts to saying that the translator should have chosen to use a different word in one of the two scriptures in order to avoid the resulting logical contradiction that now appears in English—that is, the translator made an error. If no translation error occurred, then an error of fact exists in at least one of the two scriptures.  Appeals to “context” are irrelevant in cases like this where simple declarative statements are involved such as “no one has seen God” and “I have seen God.” Simply put, no “context” makes a contradiction or a false statement, like 2 = 3, true.If one is prepared to allow for the possibility of translator or transcriber errors, then the claim of Biblical inerrancy is completely undermined since no originals exist to serve as a benchmark against which to identify the errors.  Left only with our error-prone copies of the originals, the claim of infallibility becomes completely vacuous.  Pandora’s Box would truly be open: You could have the Bible say whatever you want it to say by simply claiming that words to the contrary are the result of copying or translation/interpretation errors, and nothing could prove you wrong.

Let’s look at several more of these context-independent contradictions and errors of fact.1


Matt 19:26 says “But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible. “ Judges 1:19 says “And the LORD was with Judah; and he drave out the inhabitants of the mountain; but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron.” This is remarkable on its own, revealing a far-from-omnipotent tribal god being defeated by technology.
Mark 15:25 says “And it was the third hour, and they crucified him.” John 19:14-16 says “…about the sixth hour…they cried out…crucify him….Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified.”
2 Kings 24:8 says “Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he began to reign, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months.” 2 Chronicles 36:9 says “Jehoiachin was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned three months and ten days in Jerusalem…”
2 Kings 8:26 says “Two and twenty years old was Ahaziah when he began to reign…” 2 Chronicles 22:2 says “Forty and two years old was Ahaziah when he began to reign…”
2 Samuel 6:23 says “Therefore Michal the daughter of Saul had no child unto the day of her death” 2 Samuel 21:8 says “But the king took…the five sons of Michal the daughter of Saul”
2 Samuel 8:3-4 says “David smote also Hadadezer…and took from him…seven hundred horsemen…” 1 Chronicles 18:3-4 says “David smote Hadarezer…and took from him…seven thousand horsemen…” Note the spelling difference of Hadadezer.
1 Kings 4:26 says “And Solomon had forty thousand stalls of horses for his chariots…” 2 Chronicles 9:25 says “And Solomon had four thousand stalls for horses and chariots…”
2 Kings 25:8 says “And in the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month…Nebuzaradan…came…unto Jerusalem” Jeremiah 52:12 says “…in the fifth month, in the tenth day of the month…came Nebuzaradan…into Jerusalem”
1 Samuel 31:4-6 says “…Saul took a sword and fell upon it. And when his armourbearer saw that Saul was dead and…died with him. So Saul died…” 2 Samuel 21:12 says “…the Philistines had slain Saul in Gilboa.”
Gen 2:17 says “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day thou eastest thereof thou shalt surely die [note: it doesn’t say ‘spiritual’ death] Gen 5:5 says “And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died.”
Matt 1:16 says, “And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus…” Luke 3:23 says “And Jesus…the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli”
James 1:13 says “..for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man.” Gen 22:1 says “And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham…”
Gen 6:20 says “Of fowls after their kind and of cattle [etc.]…two of every sort shall come unto thee…” Gen 7:2,3 says “Of every clean beast thou shall take to thee by sevens…Of fowls also of the air by sevens…”
Luke23:46: “And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.” John 19:30  “When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.”
Gen 32:30 states “…for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.” John 1:18 states, “No man hath seen God at any time…”


Factual Errors

1 Kings 7:23 “He made a molten sea, ten cubits from the one brim to the other: it was round all about, and his height was five cubits: and a line of thirty cubits did compass it round about.” Circumference = Pi() x Diameter, which means that the Bible is saying that Pi() = 3. A strict literalist who believes a perfect God would allow no error must admit that in this case their perfect God is allowing some pretty sloppy approximations. How sloppy does it have to be before it’s just wrong?
Lev 11:20-21: “All fowls that creep, going upon all four, shall be an abomination unto you.” Fowl do not go upon all four.
Lev 11:6: “And the hare, because he cheweth the cud…” Hare do not chew the cud.
Deut 14:7: ” “…as the camel, and the hare, and the coney: for they chew the cud, but divide not the hoof.” This is wrong on both counts: Hare don’t chew the cud and camels do divide the “hoof.”
Jonah 1:17 says, “…Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights” Matt 12:40 says “…Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly…” whales and fish are not related
Matt 13:31-32: ” “the kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed which…is the least of all seeds, but when it is grown is the greatest among herbs and becometh a tree.” There are 2 significant errors here: first, there are many smaller seeds, like the orchid seed; and second, mustard plants don’t grow into trees.
Matt 4:8: ” Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them.” Unless the world is flat, altitude simply will not help you see all the kingdoms of the earth.

1 See C. Dennis McKinsey, The Encyclopedia of Biblical Errancy (Amherst: Prometheus Books, 1995), which is an extensive compilation of scripture problems.


41 comments for “Bible Errors and Contradictions

  1. Anonymous
    April 16, 2012 at 9:20 pm

    Excellent. I have been collecting samples like this for some time and you have saved me a lot of work. BTW Isaiah also saw God (Is. 6:1), also in John 8:33 the author has “the Jews” claiming they have never been in bondage!

  2. Steve Dickheiser
    April 18, 2012 at 3:45 am

    (Such a position is so specific that it allows one to falsify it simply by reference to the Bible itself. For example, Gen 32:30 states, “…for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.” However, John 1:18 states, “No man hath seen God at any time…” Both statements cannot be true.)

    I hope you at least understand this is from 2 different bibles. Jewish people would say there is no connection between the two and the New Testament is in no way a continuation of the Hebrew Bible. So this example is a matter of perspective and choice of belief. Jews couldn’t care less what John, or especially Paul, for that matter. By the way. Old Testament is the name Christians Bible authors chose for the Hebrew Bible and is not an acceptable title by Jews.

    We Jews would also see contradictions between what Rabbi Jesus would say, as well as how he would phrase it, and what is said to be some of his quotes in the New Testament. For example, a rabbi’s primary function, even though he would have other functions, is to teach Torah, God’s Law. As a rabbi Jesus would know it is a sin to consider oneself God. I believe if Jesus said “Only through me can you enter the gates of Heaven” he was doing what any religious leader would do, be he a Catholic priest, a Protestant minister, a rabbi or a Muslim Imam. He would be quoting his respective scripture. In my example I believe he was quoting God and not himself.

    The contradictions between the two bibles is so staggering. The idea of Trinity to Jews is a violation of Monotheism and Rabbi Jesus, or Emanuel, would very much know this. Another thing that has always puzzled me, among the many, is how what Jesus preached,m from Torah, and what Paul says about him after the crucifixion. Paul didn’t like anything about what Jesus taught before the crucifixion and that didn’t change after. It is no wonder Paul would eliminate Torah when Jesus wasn’t around to dispute Paul, as I believe he would have. It is no wonder the Jewish-Christians, and that included the disciples, didn’t accept any of the Gospels of Paul. After all, the disciples still believed in Torah, as Jesus taught, and they knew Jesus for a long time and was never told to discontinue to continue those beliefs. If Jesus was how Christians say, he would be able to know the future and at least let his disciples know before the crucifixion that things are drastically changing from how God wants them to be according to Torah. It never happened and all we have is Paul’s word for the vision he claims he had of Jesus on the road to Damascus.

    I could go on and on but what is the point? I believe each to his/her own faith. I see many contradictions but I am not a Christian so it really doesn’t matter. Just one more thing to consider. In Danial 8:9-11 & 11:31 The prophet Danial talks about an Armageddon. He speaks of two beasts, a greater beast who orders a lessor beast to destroy the great city. Danial also says they will be destroyed totally by fire at the hand of the lessor beast and his army. And, the lessor beasts name will equal 666 in the Hebrew alphabet. Does any of this sound even remotely familiar? The Book of Revelations in the New Testament maybe?

    Well, let’s move forward to the year 70 AD to Jerusalem and the Roman occupation. According to history, the Roman Emperor ordered his son, The Roman General Titus, to totally destroy Jerusalem as a punishment for the Hebrew rebellion, which the Romans finally and totally crushed in that same year. By the way, General Titus’ name equals 666 in the Hebrew alphabet. It was the end of times for the people of Jerusalem. If you believe in coincidence, and I do not, was this a separate event from that in The Book of Revelations or was it a dream the UN-named dreamer, in Revelations, had of events, and/or a prophesy, he knew about from his past? For me there are just to many similarities for it to be separate events. Let’s remember within dreams we humans tend to embellish a bit, as in dream editing, and it is usually not intentional. For a better explanation of that ask a dream interpreter. And this is one of the many examples and reasons I believe many Christian leaders tell their followers to not get involved with the study of history.

    As I said above, to each his own faith.

    • John of Wood Green
      April 26, 2012 at 7:38 pm

      Steve, I’ve seen how “Caesar Nero” in Hebrew (qsar nrvn) can add up to 666, plus “Lateinos” (Greek) and “VICARIVS FILII DEI” (Latin, a title of the Pope) can add up to 666, but I’d never before heard about General Titus doing so. Could you please go into detail with the Hebrew letters?

  3. John of Wood Green
    April 28, 2012 at 6:47 pm

    Leviticus 11:6 and Deuteronomy 14:7 : Another case of pre-Linnaean classification. If you observe a rabbit or hare in the wild while it’s there for you to observe, most of the time it will be chewing, and the food will be moving around in its mouth, being brought up from the back to the front of the mouth, and becoming pretty cud-like. The early Israelites would not have made a distinction between cud that is brought back from a second stomach and food that is being thoroughly chewed, so true ruminants and the hare and rock hyrax (a species of rabbit, Latin: cuniculus becoming in English, Coney) were all described as those that chew the cud (literally, bring up the cud). So in terms of language used at the time, the texts are accurate enough. And I don’t know where Wesley Edwards got hold of the idea that the hare divides the “hoof” – “divide” in this context means [i]bisect[/i] and there’s no more of a trace of bisection in a hare’s paw than in our own hands.

    • P. Wesley Edwards
      May 21, 2012 at 12:02 am

      Before commenting on the cud chewing and hooves, I want to elaborate a bit on the article’s introduction. It is important to point out that biblical criticism needs to have a specific audience in mind. Christian interpretations of the Bible (as I’m sure you know) range over a spectrum from liberal Christians, who fully accept Bible errors, to conservative Christian literalists, who allow for no error at all—not even in translation. In fact, many liberal Christians see Bible errors and contradictions as completely irrelevant to the Bible’s deeper message. Many liberals even argue that a literal reading actually gets in the way of a proper understanding of God’s message. Doubtless some of them would happily add to the list in this article.

      Literalists see it differently. What’s more, strict literalists are not free to explain the Bible’s errors and contradictions as due to the primitive, mistaken views of Bronze Age desert nomads; after all, their whole premise is that God would not allow errors of any kind. So, while the liberal might admit that the Bible paints a hopelessly primitive and mistaken view of biology and the cosmos, strict inerrantists have to argue that it is all nonetheless accurate. Many passages cited in this article are aimed at this latter, literalist group.

      Now, back to cud chewing and hooves: Setting aside the fact that the camel’s “hoof” is split in the manner of all even-toed ungulates, the point I’m making is much more basic, and again, targeted to inerrantists. Whatever was intended in the now inaccessible original manuscripts, the supposedly inerrant KJV Bible now places the hare in the same category as the camel: chewing cud. This is factually incorrect as translated.

      Now to resolve this, you expanded the notion of “cud” to include food that is “thoroughly chewed.” But the Bible doesn’t say “thoroughly chewed.” If it meant that, and if God really did guide authors and translators to prevent errors—including translation errors–then one would expect the passage to say what it means. Again, an inerrantist believes God directly guided the Bible’s writing. Presumably God is powerful enough to allow his human “secretaries” to rise above the primitive, misguided understandings of the cultures and times in which those writers lived. So, your redefining cud chewing in order to resolve the problem reinforces my point, namely, that the Bible shows no divine influence at all. In this particular case, the authors seem to have made the expected, natural, historically appropriate, but completely mistaken assumption that because rabbits chew a lot, rabbits share an essential characteristic with other animals that chew a lot.

      I am completely sympathetic to their point of view, given their location in history and the absence of God’s influence. Their understanding, and the future English translators’ understanding, is indeed pre-Linnaean. It reflects the superficial, crude categorizations that a child might make: “it flies, so it is a bird.” Or, “It looks like it chews like a cow, so it does chew like a cow.” Given their place in history I would have expected them to get it right only if God really was guiding them. What would we expect to see if there is no divine influence? Precisely what we do see.

      My whole point is that their views are no different from the other ancients; they have no privileged status. More to the point, their writings show no evidence of a divine assist to help them see their universe more accurately than any of their pagan neighbors. This is what we would expect if their God was no more involved than were the pagans’ gods. In fact, the Biblical authors appear heavily influenced by the myths and cosmology of their geographical neighbors and historical predecessors.

      As for the comment you pointed out, which apparently referred to the hare as having a divided “hoof,” (in quotes since it clearly can’t be a hoof in the correct sense). This was evidently a transcription error of my own! I think I had set out to say the passage was wrong on both counts: wrong about the camel, which does divide the hoof; and wrong about the hare, which does not chew the cud. Thanks!

    • Mary
      June 13, 2012 at 12:36 pm

      God made the rabbit, so surely God knew how the rabbit worked? “If you observe a rabbit or hare in the wild while it’s there for you to observe, most of the time it will be chewing, and the food will be moving around in its mouth, being brought up from the back to the front of the mouth, and becoming pretty cud-like. The early Israelites would not have made a distinction between cud that is brought back from a second stomach and food that is being thoroughly chewed, so true ruminants and the hare and rock hyrax (a species of rabbit, Latin: cuniculus becoming in English, Coney) were all described as those that chew the cud (literally, bring up the cud).” The Bible is God’s word. God does not make errors. The Bible does not have errors. Ergo, the Bible has errors, or God was wrong. You decide.

  4. John of Wood Green
    April 28, 2012 at 7:16 pm

    Hadadezer’s horsemen and Solomon’s stalls: If David took 7000 horsemen, he certainly took 700, and if he took 700, it doesn’t mean he didn’t take an additional 6300. The two statements are not contradictory, but they would be if 2 Samuel had said that he took O-N-L-Y 700. Exactly the same argument applies to Solomon’s stalls.

    • P. Wesley Edwards
      May 5, 2012 at 7:20 pm

      Ok, let’s line them up. Note how well each lines up with the other:

      2 Samuel 8:4
      And David took from him a thousand chariots, and seven hundred horsemen, and twenty thousand footmen: and David houghed all the chariot horses, but reserved of them for an hundred chariots.

      1 Chronicles 18:4
      And David took from him a thousand chariots, and seven thousand horsemen, and twenty thousand footmen: David also houghed all the chariot horses, but reserved of them an hundred chariots.

      Except for a couple of point mutations (copying errors seem the most likely by far), they are close to identical. It’s hard to believe they were independently written as opposed to one being copied from the other, or both from a third source. Nonetheless, let’s consider your explanation that “If David took 7000 horsemen, he certainly took 700, and if he took 700, it doesn’t mean he didn’t take an additional 6300.” And that, as a result, no contradiction exists because he didn’t say “that he took O-N-L-Y 700.”

      You seem to be saying that if someone uses a number in a sentence without the qualifier “only,” then the number could mean any amount more or any amount less. But that would mean that the number means nothing at all. For example:

      I tell someone I will bring 5 people with me to a party. When I get there I have 50 people with me. The host angrily accuses me of misleading her: “You said 5!” “Ah,” I point out, “I didn’t say O-N-L-Y 5. By bringing 50 I certainly brought 5; and by saying ‘5’ I didn’t mean I wouldn’t take an additional 45.”

      • guy
        May 23, 2012 at 4:50 pm

        P Wesley I am impressed by your posts and this website. btw, your last paragraph of bringing 50 people to a party after telling them that you will bring 5 gave me a great hearty laugh. You are absolutely right buddy!!

        • kidus
          September 3, 2012 at 7:32 am

          agree with p.wesley, what message?, the message of slavery?,the message of stoning people for working on Sundays?,,or may be the message of putting a tree in the middle of the garden to tempt and fail human race when God already know the choice they are going to make.

      • Jerry Banks
        August 16, 2012 at 7:44 pm

        I agree also. The analogy you used with the 50 people made your point so clear. Thanks for that.

  5. John of Wood Green
    April 30, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    The two genealogies of Christ in Matthew and Luke: The simple answer to this old chestnut, which seems to have puzzled so many people unnecessarily (it certainly puzzled me for some years) is that Luke’s qualification, “as was supposed” need not be taken to apply only to Joseph’s physical paternity, but also to any part of Luke’s genealogy about which there may be any question, such as (H)Eli’s physical paternity of Joseph (and God’s physical paternity of Adam).
    Most commentators consider that Luke’s genealogy is that of Mary (the gender of the definite articles in the original Greek precluding possibilities like (H)Eli being Joseph’s mother), adopted in Nazareth to be that of Joseph, possibly because of his roots being elsewhere – the presence of Aaronic names in Luke’s genealogy (like (H)Eli and Levi) would support this, Mary having priestly cousins. If these commentators are correct, the curse on Jeconias’s posterity in Jeremiah 22:28-30 is circumvented, Christ’s physical descent being through Nathan rather than Solomon. Note, too, that not one of Jesus’s half-brothers is called (H)Eli, whereas one is called after Joseph’s father Jacob (Jacob and James are the same name in Hebrew).
    Thus unambiguous genealogies of Joseph and of the Lord Jesus Christ can both be adduced from Scripture, without contradiction.

  6. John of Wood Green
    May 1, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    Matt 4:8: Even if the world had been flat and the mountain as high as Everest, Jesus would still had a job to see all the kingdoms of the world, let alone the glory of them. No, the devil used powers beyond those of nature to show Him these things – the mountain location was not causative and the Scripture doesn’t say it was.

    • P. Wesley Edwards
      May 5, 2012 at 6:14 pm

      If the world, as we understand it today, were flattened out, then indeed Jesus would have had a tough time seeing the “ends of the earth.” However, I hardly think the Biblical authors were aware of the true area involved. Also, it’s not clear if you’re allowing that the Bible holds a flat-earth cosmology or not. Are you invoking a supernatural assist from the devil to make this consistent with a spherical earth cosmology? If so, then it’s worth pointing out that many more scriptures can be cited in support of a flat-earth cosmology, including those without magical creatures who might use “powers” to get around the basic physics. For example, Dan 4:10-11 talks about a vision of a tall tree in the “midst” of the earth (what would that mean for a sphere?), which is so tall that it “reached unto heaven” allowing him to see “to the end of all the earth.” Other examples include descriptions of God talking about grabbing the ends of the earth to shake it, as if it were a blanket (Job 38:12-13). And many more. Of course this is consistent with the flat-earth cosmology of the ancient Mesopotamians whose writings shaped much of the bible’s cosmology, even giving us an almost identical earlier version of the Noah story, with gods destroying the world with a flood, a single man, Utnapishtim, called to build an ark, which, of all places, came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. And it doesn’t end with the flat-earth, but includes waters below and above the “heavens”…

  7. Anonymous
    July 19, 2012 at 2:13 am

    What about the contradiction of if there really is just one god?

    Genesis 1:26
    “26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”

    Let us make man in “our” image. Our is the plural, yet through-out the rest of the bible it goes to the singular.

    • August 3, 2012 at 9:53 am

      interesting the plural is often used. In genesis it is stated that God created the “heavens” and the earth. More then one heaven?

      • Jeanne
        August 9, 2012 at 9:56 pm

        It just means God created EVERYTHING. The beginning of everything.God created everything in the Universe. No need to take one word literally. The effect of the opening words of the Bible is to establish that God, in his inscrutable wisdom, sovereign power, and majesty, is the Creator of ALL things that exist.

    • Jeanne
      August 9, 2012 at 9:36 pm

      “us” can be God speaking to himself, since God alone does the making in Gen 1:27 This would be the first hint of the Trinity in the bible The Father, The Son, The Holy Spirit

      • Raymond
        September 8, 2012 at 9:44 pm

        If God was speaking tohimself, he would say ” my “, and Genesis 1:26 was written before birth of Jesus and thus the concept of trinity wasn’t evidenced then.

        • EthanDee
          September 19, 2012 at 6:12 am

          About the “GOD SPEAKING TO OTHER GODS” thing.
          John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God…” Later on in verse 14, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” Clear the trinity is supported in genesis, just because Jesus wasn’t on the earth doesn’t mean that he wasn’t a part of the trinity. This does not support other Gods. A chair has four legs. Together they are a chair apart they are just a part of the chair. Because there are four legs doesn’t mean there are four different chairs. And “the heavens” does not represent “heaven”, since Jesus claims as he ascends that he is going to prepare a place for us the heaven where we will spend eternity is being prepared for us. Heavens means the universe.

        • Zack
          October 15, 2012 at 9:26 pm

          Jesus has been around as long as God has. Anytime in the Bible that God is talking to someone face to face Then that god is Jesus. And that is not an error in translation or naming. Jesus is God incarnate.

  8. Spanky
    July 21, 2012 at 7:59 pm

    If you are free thinking, and reasonable, you can see these “errors” show our limits, and God then, as none other than unlimited.

    For example: Heli was Joseph’s dad. Joseph was not the, “seed”, father of Jesus; as it is written. The Holy Spirit of God, is. The lineage of the fathers is known, and stated. These passed from Adam, and then all the way down; to The Virgin Mary’s father. The helicopter view/point/message here, is we are born of the flesh, and in sin. However Jesus was not born from this sin seed. His “seed”, is God. That is Spirit; The Holy One. So the point is, Jesus is God. You can only miss that, if you choose to look away from Him.

  9. Jeanne
    August 9, 2012 at 9:29 pm

    I am not going to go through all of this debate since I entirely believe that the Bible should not be defended since it is God’s word. According to the very first is all I will answer. Genesis 32:30 Peniel means “Face of God” Jacob’s encounter with God fills him with awe. When later Moses asks to see God’s glory, he is told , “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.” (Ex 33:20) In light of this, either Jacob’s encounter is a remarkable exception or, alternatively, the expression “face to face” should be understood as a figure of speech for intimacy with God. In Ex 33:11 God speaks to Moses “face to face” but in both cases the phrase can imply a close personal encounter, or possibly a vision of the brightness of God’s glory, without suggesting a literal vision of God’s face. You have to be very careful when trying to interput the bible. There are many figures of speech and symbols used.

    • JSmith
      September 14, 2012 at 7:06 pm

      Jeanne,the problem is that ten different Christians will come up with ten different answers to these verses, and each will think that their interpretation is correct, right? So all any Christian has to do is come up with an interpretation that sounds good and bingo, no contradiction or error. Of course each Christian will say you need to interpret correctly, and they did, but the rest did not; and on and it goes. Why do you think there are so many denominations and divisions in Christianity, because every one of them believes they are interpreting correctly. Before you go correcting me, keep in mind I spent twenty years as a Christian and studied diligently throughout. I now believe the bible to have contradictions and errors. It is not perfect and inerrant as preached by fundamentalists.

  10. Jeanne
    August 10, 2012 at 12:12 am

    I know I didn’t want to debate the bible. But this is good practice for me as well as we have been going through many of these areas in Bible Study.

    Mark 15:25 and John 19:14-16 John has 6th hour but he is not attempting to pinpoint the exact time.

    Jonah 1:17 and Matthew 12:40 I have the words big fish not whale. Just as in some bibles some words used are lampstands and then other candle. They both share the same meaning…light. I fish in Jonah and Big Fish in Matthew. ESV

    2Samuel 8:34 and 1Chronicles 18:3-4 Spelling of Hadadezer spelled the same in both books. ESV

    Matthew 19:26 and Judges 1:19 With God all things are possible BUT as with Judah The Lord was not there to help. He was there with many people and didn’t help them.

    2Samuel 6:23 and 2Samuel 21:8 Michal and Merab were sisters 2 daughters of Saul. Merab had the 5 sons not Michal ESV

    Kings 24:8 and 2 Chronicles 36:9 both say 18 years old in ESV

    Kings 8:26 and Chronicles 22:2 both say 22 years old in ESV

    Not to put you down or anything for your work because it got me thinking until I actually re-read notes from bible study and read footnotes in my study bible. But what is really amazing to think about is. There are 64 books written over thousands of years and written by many different people from many walks of life with the influence from God. The dead sea scrolls that were found not too long ago had many books of the bible and everything but minor words that didn’t change the meaning was there. My point being if this is all you found in 64 books, that is quite remarkable. It is the oldest book in time and still being debated today. That should say something.

    Thanks for posting your discrepancies but I find most of them not to be. I have a hard time understanding things sometimes and then I find out in Bible Study and say oh that makes sense. It’s always good to hear what other people have to say. It’s a daily learing experience. I’m grateful knowing that God’s words are right there for me to read. It’s actually amazing!

  11. Chris
    August 24, 2012 at 2:36 am

    Very interesting reading from both perspectives. I am actually enjoying the debate. Let’s take the high road and accept that there are Contradictions and Factual Errors in the Bible. What does that prove or disprove about the message?

    • JSmith
      September 14, 2012 at 7:12 pm

      This could be said of any religion, and then we have to ask which one is correct? If the bible has errors then it stands equal to any other religious book on earth. This is the main reason fundamentalists push so hard for inerrancy; they know this. If God didn’t inspire it, why believe it over any other religious books?

  12. P. Wesley Edwards
    August 25, 2012 at 4:49 pm

    What message is that? The bible’s messages include some pretty horrific ones:

    • Jeanne
      August 25, 2012 at 7:43 pm

      Yes there are some pretty horrific messages. However as the bible also states the earth is loaded with sin. All of us are sinners thus the horrific things that happen. Does God have to stop it? no not really he gives us all choices and free will. He is always there if we need him but doesn’t mean he is going to fix man’s sins. However Jesus died on the cross for us so that we could live eternally in Heaven with him and he took the punishment for our sins by doing so. But we still have to follow him and ask for forgiveness which gives our salvation for the end days. People might assume there are contradictions but in careful study and reading it all…. not just picking out a verse here and a verse there to be able to understand it.

      • JSmith
        September 14, 2012 at 7:24 pm

        It is pretty horrific when Gods commands people to dash babies against stones, yea pretty horrific.

        Cherry picking verses out of the bible is a speciality of Christians. As a matter of fact you are doing it in this paragraph. You had deducted from scripture that man has a free will from verses that support it. Others, Calvinists in particular, can prove to you that man does not have a free will and they will cherry pick verses that agree with that. How do you know these are the “end days”? Preterists may disagree with that and cherry pick their verses out to prove you wrong. You do the same thing every time you study the bible and accuse others of it; pretty funny

    • Bill
      August 2, 2016 at 9:21 am

      True objectivity implies knowledge of ALL, humans are as a result erroneous and subjective by nature. So to categorize the expressions of the will of God via the children of Israel is above our understanding. The ends only justify the means if your omniscient. So from a human perspective anything above our understanding would incomprehensible and as a result subjective, hence the use of arbitrary words such as “good” and “bad”.

  13. Peter Vreeland
    November 10, 2012 at 9:53 am

    The inerrance of the bible is proved in its principles. There have been typo’s and other errors through the years as expected when the job is done by any human attempting to translate and define Gods absolutes.

    We teach our children as babes to walk and talk and then when they grow up, they use those very same legs and mouth that we trained – to walk away from us and use words that we taught them – in order to argue their case…but the pupil is never better than the MASTER !! God is NOT LOGICAL and if everything on this forum is to be determined by “logic and reason” then your intelligent arguments will only convince the lesser intelligent pupil and will fail before an even more intelligent person who has a better argument.So in the end – only the person with the “seemingly best argument” wins. That does not mean its the truth by any means.So what have you achieved ?

    On another note….

    Take for instance the example of “Dimensions”. You can imagine an object in 3D. Can you imagine an object in 16D or 64D ? You cant despite all your intelligent arguments. So now you want points of the bible explained on your terms and your brain can only go up to 3D !!??

    Eternity cannot be confined or explained to anyone. The Lord reigns and those who believe it – believe it and those who dont will get their chance on that day !

    I once showed a “demon possessed man” to an atheist and suggested that the person manifesting in front of us was perhaps psychophrenic. It was pretty obvious that the skinny little lady who was talking in a thick mans voice and moving parts of her body like no human being can – has some sort of abnormal power within her. The funny thing was that that power left when it was so rebuked in JESUS name…. Mary told us later that she has stepped into some Indian Temple when this phenomenon started happening…

    Who cares for intellectual explainations… go out an see the world and make your conclusions if there is indeed a God above.

  14. pipoy u.
    February 13, 2013 at 4:22 pm

    i also agree w/ it.because when we say words of God it shouldn’t contradict itself.

  15. April 24, 2016 at 2:40 am

    Somehow that one has got through.
    a few examples ( can’t do all now)….
    you made a big…. about the container for water, which is 10 cu diameter, and thirty cu. circumference. However, what you forgot was that 31.4 cu. circumference, to ONE Significant Figure is 30 cubits. SO the bible is right on this one and you are wrong. alright?

    and so for all your examples (of ‘error’) .

    Mark 15:45 and John19:14.
    Mark states it was the third hour and they crucified him. That is correct.
    and there was a supernatural “eclipse”(darkness over the whole land ) from the
    to the ninth hour. Mark15:33. ( i.e. 12 noon to 3 pm)..
    John states, And it was the preparation of the Passover about the sixth hour: and he said to the Jews, Behold your king! That is, “About the hour of darkness” he said to the Jews, Behold your king! —– Pilate did not say it was the sixth hour, (as Mark), but it was “About” the time of the darkness over the land,
    The next verse shows it was the hour of darkness , for they replied ( to Pilate),
    “away with, away with, crucify him. John 19:15.

    • Furax was Here
      July 30, 2016 at 6:01 pm

      “and there was a supernatural “eclipse”(darkness over the whole land ) from the
      sixth to the ninth hour. ”

      Why isn’t there NO historians of that time and that region who could come up with such information ????

    • P. Wesley Edwards
      August 22, 2016 at 9:54 pm

      Thanks for your contribution to the site. (btw, sorry about the long delay while I’ve been juggling other projects. That being said, I don’t respond to all good comments that get posted, but when I do want to respond, long delays like this will be common.)

      First, regarding the cubits and Pi issue: In my comments in the table above, I do try to be clear that this is a matter of approximation. So, yes, to a first approximation, 3 is “correct.” But, as someone once said, to a first approximation, all life on earth flies because, to a first approximation, all life on earth is bugs. The point here is simply that this is a fairly crude approximation for what Literalists tell us is a divinely perfect book and a source of scientific and other truths. Of course, for us not-so-perfect humans, especially living a couple of thousand years ago, this kind of approximation is hardly a surprise, at least without “outside” help. And that’s really the point. It is one more piece of a much larger collection of contradictions, outright errors, and telltale statements that strongly supports the idea that the Bible is best explained as the (sometimes beautiful and wise) product of ancient humans who lacked any special, supernaturally inspired insights. Some of these pieces of evidence are smaller and less dramatic (like this Pi thing) than others, at least when they are considered in isolation; but cumulatively, they add more and more “straws to the camel’s back”— more and more to the total weight of evidence. Other pieces are so large that they go a long way to breaking the camel’s back all by themselves.

      But there is perhaps something even more telling about this particular Pi passage than the crudity of the approximation. Why did the writers feel the need to give us both the diameter and circumference—as if they did not realize that we only need to know one? All they needed to do was give us one value or the other and we could use Pi (even an approximation!) to easily figure out the other value. It is very suggestive that they did not know that a strict relationship between the two even existed. Again, this is surprising only if the Bible is supposed to be the perfect work of a perfect, supernatural being. Of course, it is just what we would expect otherwise. So, when apologists say that such things are typical of the ancients, they seem to be saying, “What did you expect from people living back then?” It seems the answer is, “Exactly what we’re reading—that is, unless they are acting as the secretaries of perfect deity who is creating a body of perfect, literal truths.” (non-Literalists are not as vulnerable to this line of critique.)

      Regarding Jesus’ time of death. I’m not sure your response fully appreciates the full scope of this contradiction. The problem also has to do with the order of events. For the Jews, the day began at sundown. So, for example, food prepared this afternoon for a meal tonight would be food prepared today for a meal tomorrow. In terms of Passover, then, the Day of Preparation is the day before the Passover Meal. In Mark, the Last Supper is a Passover meal, held the day after the Day of Preparation. It is after this meal (according to Mark) that Jesus is betrayed and brought before Pilate the following morning. When does he get crucified? Well, Mark 15:25 tells us, “And it was the third hour, and they crucified him.” So, by Jewish timekeeping (as you noted), that would be 9 that morning—that is, the morning following the Passover Meal.

      In John, however, the order of events is irreconcilably different. John 19:14-15 tells us ” . . . it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King!. But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him.” So John has Jesus in custody and being hauled away for crucifixion not just at a different time (which would be enough on its own to undermine a Literalist’s notion of inerrancy), but on a different day: the Day of Preparation–that is, the day before the Passover Meal (Bart Ehrman makes this point).

      There have been quite a few attempts over the years to reconcile these particular passages. And this fact alone is sufficient to make my point: even if there is a resolution, it so inaccessible that even life-long Bible scholars cannot reach consensus. If scholars who have dedicated their lives to understanding its meaning still fail to reach consensus on how to resolve such a clear contradiction in a plain reading of the text, then the only possibilities are (1) the Bible is not and never was inerrant, (2) its inerrancy is so obscured as to have no practical consequence, or (3) only the now-inaccessible autograph manuscripts were inerrant, which, again, takes away any practical consequence. If there is no practical consequence, then there is no way to tell the difference between an “inerrant” Bible and a Bible that has no divine influence at all. The whole notion ends up becoming an abstract, unsupported, article of faith.

      Why would a perfect God with unlimited power allow the accuracy of His Word to become so obscured? Keep in mind that we’re not just talking about one or two problem passages. When example after example (after example) comes up, each requiring its own independent, often creative, and almost always controversial explanation, it is time to ask whether there isn’t a much simpler, more general explanation, which is this: The Bible is the product of humans–just humans—writing in the context of their ancient world, and producing something that was sometimes true and beautiful, but oftentimes neither, especially when the morality of their times was mirrored in the God of the OT. Of course, all of this is exactly what we would expect if these writings were not divinely shaped at all. To make an all-good, all-powerful God fit with the current state of the Bible, one has to bring in one ad hoc assumption after another, pushing us ever further from the simplest explanation necessary to explain what we’re seeing.

      While my points above are relevant mainly to Bible Literalists, this “simplest explanation,” or “inference to the best explanation,” I think, applies to anyone who claims that the Bible is divinely inspired in any way.

  16. April 24, 2016 at 11:12 pm

    Genesis 32:30 and John 1:18.
    Psalm 45:6 and 7, and repeated by Paul in Hebrews 1,states,”But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne ,O God ,is for ever and ever……” Christ said, NO man knoweth the Father but the Son….and to whosoever he shall reveal him.”
    So, Jacob, Genesis32, had an epiphany of the Son, God the Son—– and lived,, but, John 1:18, no man has seen the Father at any time.( the only begotten Son, in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him). God, the Son declared him to Jacob, so Jacob lived. Where is the contradiction?

  17. May 4, 2016 at 11:45 pm

    4000 or 40,000?

    “and Solomon had 40,000 stalls of horses for his chariots”.
    “and Solomon had 4,000 stalls for chariots and horses.” calls this error of fact and ‘context independent error’, quite mistakenly…… for
    the first one states “stalls of horses”.
    the second states, stalls for chariots ( and horses).
    They both show the wealth God, YHWH gave him and differ in the things being compared by freethought. :– one being stalls of horses(forty thousand) , and the other stalls for chariots (and horses) .(being four thousand). and I see no error here …….

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