Saturday, November 24, 2007

Harmony of the Gospels and Bible Contradictions

Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. And He sent Peter and John, saying, "Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat it." Luke 22:7-8

I recently came across a blog (and I can't find the link, but wish I could remember) that noted supposed contradictions between the four gospels as to the day of Christ's crucifixion. The contention was that the four gospels don't agree on which day Christ was actually crucified. I have come across a number of supposed contradictions in the bible before as put forth by skeptics of the faith. I have also seen a number of supposed answers to these contradictions by well-meaning Christians - some of these even in error. But one thing that I find in many of these cases is modern thinking people who try to force technical standards of modern thinking and scientific research onto ancient storytelling. It doesn't always work. Another error is to place standards of technical writing onto verbal storytelling without realizing that we moderns speak the same way.

I don't recall from the blog whether the above Scripture reference was one listed, but it should be obvious from reading Luke 22 that the two sentences in the quotation above are from two different days. Luke mentions the Passover day, then skips backward in time in the very next sentence to describe getting ready for that day. An analogy would be the following: "I had a good Thanksgiving Day. I flew home, and my mom and kid sister met me at the airport. They took me home and the whole family was there. We spent all morning watching football and talking about life, then had a great turkey meal." It might be obvious to anybody who knows the narrator that he skipped back to the day before Thanksgiving to tell of his travel and meeting his family, then skipping forward to talk about the day itself. He doesn't need to warn the reader because the reader would know that he had to travel before the holiday. We moderns, even though we pay extreme attention to technical detail in formal writing, often verbally violate these rules when we speak - and think nothing of it. We then use it against people of other times and cultures.

Another group of supposed contradictions arise in Kings and Chronicles where the number of years which certain kings reigned or the ages at which their successors' births occurred don't agree. This is because the cultures of the two kingdoms, Israel and Judah, came to count time differently. In one kingdom they counted partial years as whole years and the other counted only whole years. (Thanks to Harold Camping here for his research) In our modern world, the same "contradictions" occur. This is why when the US team plays the Taiwan team in the Little League World Series that our twelve year olds play their thirteen year olds. The kids are the same age, but in the Taiwanese culture, the nine months of pregnancy is counted as a year. So their kids are one year old upon birth, whereas ours are one year old a year later. Another example is the way days and nights are counted in the world of vacation travel by travel agencies. The day you fly there might be counted as part of the vacation time. Judgment Day will be interesting when God debunks all the false claims made against the faith. He may even use technicalities to do so.

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