On Discrepancy, Difficulty and Contradiction

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Even the most unyielding Fundamentalist cannot deny the incontrovertible fact of difficulties and apparent contradictions in the Bible, but in all fairness it must be pointed out that from the standpoint of logic and critical scholarly analysis, difficulties are not synonymous with errors. Here’s an easy way to see how this works. Let’s say you and your friend witness a robbery in which there were three robbers. Your friend was at one end of the street in front of the bank and you were at the other end near their getaway vehicle. Your friend sees all three robbers run out of the bank with the loot and take off down the street, disappearing from his view. Then, one of the robbers gets a bad feeling that the getaway is going to fail; so he ditches his loot and takes off running down an alley. A wino finds the ditched loot and happily makes his way to the liquor store. By the time the robbers arrive at the getaway vehicle, you see two robbers, not three. During the police report, your friend states for certain that there were three robbers who took off on foot, while you state for certain that there were only two. Your friend admits that he never saw any getaway vehicle, while you maintain there was. A third person comes up and reports that he saw a wino find a bag of money, something which neither yourself nor your friend can testify to. Note that although we have several difficulties and apparent contradictions here, all three witnesses are one hundred percent correct in their statements.

There are many situations like this in the Bible, particularly related to the gospels, with typical charges including conflicting statements of Bible writers regarding the accuracy of crucial historical events such as the birth or death of Jesus. The test scholars apply to documents to check for contradictions and errors is known as the internal evidence test, and it deals basically with discrepancies within a given document. In my opinion, related to factual matters, the Bible passes the internal evidence test with such flying colors that I will not address the subject in great detail here, but for the sake of demonstration one example will be included for study. For those who wish to research the issue more fully, see Archer’s Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties as a great starting reference on the subject. For specific arguments, refer to the index of false arguments

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