For many people, The Bible is difficult to understand and can seem like a stumbling block to Christianity. A common objection to the Bible is that it is full of contradictions and errors. However, although some issues are more challenging than others, most can be resolved when we consider what the Bible is and look at each apparent contradiction.
It’s important to remember that the Bible is like an ancient library that includes ancient scrolls and Papyrus spanning thousands of years in different languages and cultures. It’s a library full of different genres including narrative, poetry, prophecies, prose discourse, etc that are unified to tell a complete story about God, humanity, sin, and redemption through Jesus. Since the Bible is full of different genres from different periods of time, it is necessary to learn how to interpret each of these from the time, culture, and language that they were written. Once these factors are considered along with writing conventions of the day, many apparent contradictions disappear. Many misconceptions about the Bible come from viewing these ancient literary works with the same rules that we use in our culture today. The closer we get to the authorial intent and their audience, the more contradictions clear up.
Some have objected to differences in the Gospel accounts, which are the ancient biographies of the ministry of Jesus. Each Gospel is designed specifically by the author to reach their intended audience. Despite their uniqueness, there is a strong cohesiveness. The rules of writing were different for these Gospel writers than they are for us westerners today in the 21st Century. Most apparent contradictions in the Gospels can be resolved by understanding how the rules of writing were different for them in ways like paraphrasing and interpretation, abbreviation and omission, reordering of events, and reporting similar events and sayings.
The Bible is meant to teach us who God is, who humans are, our problem with sin, and God’s plan to redeem humanity through the Messiah. As Paul states to Timothy:
“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” - 2 Timothy 3:14-17 ESV
It is necessary to remember the unifying themes in Scripture and let Scripture help interpret Scripture in places that seem to contradict.
Finally, it takes time to understand the Bible, as it is a vast and ancient library written by both humans and God. Scholars take a lifetime to study it. Many skeptics who decided to seriously consider and research the Bible have found truth and come to faith in Jesus. A great recent example of this is Lee Strobel. Lee was a strong Atheist. As a journalist, he was challenged to look at Scripture like he would when he writes any article, and after a long journey, he found it to be true. His book, “The Case for Christ,” and others like it are great resources for anyone struggling with apparent contradictions in the Bible.
To learn more about this topic please check out the following resources:
The Case for Faith by Lee Strobel
More than a Carpenter by Josh McDowell
Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
Why I Trust the Bible by William Mounce
I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist by Norman Giesler and Frank Turek
Bible Contradictions Explained: 4 Reasons the… | Zondervan Academic
Contradictions in the Bible - NIV Bible (thenivbible.com)
Husband and father. Ministry Assistant to the Lead Pastor at Sun Valley. “The Professor” and teacher of Sun Valley University, and in my DMIN program. Love to read, listen to podcasts, and watch movies. I am also an associate at Rayhons Financial Solutions.