Ignoring the Most Biblical Explanation

Ignoring the Most Biblical Explanation April 19, 2014

The above chart comes from NonStamp Collector, via Hemant Mehta.

In addition to Biblical inerrantists ignoring the most obvious and reasonable explanation of what is in the Bible, they are actually ignoring the most Biblical explanation. The contradictions, discrepancies, and difficulties are there within the Bible, because human beings have put these texts with their differences into the collection we call the Bible. The only way to claim that the collection is inerrant is to allow one’s doctrine about the Bible, brought into the picture from outside the Bible, to tell the Bible that it isn’t allowed to say two different things, but can only mean one of them, or something complex that combines the two.

Inerrancy is all about paying lip-service to the Bible, while actually working hard against it, in order to prevent what it actually says from undermining one’s extrabiblical doctrine about what the Bible is.

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  • Jason Garrison

    If you work hard, you can determine what the Bible says. If you work harder, you can make it say something else. Seems to me, inerrantists don’t just work in the Bible, they work it over. As with anything you love, you have to let it be what it is.

    • MattB

      I don’t think many people understand what inerrancy is. Unfortuantely, inerrancy is one reason why people (like Ehrman) lose their faith because they mistakenly think inerrancy is the idea that the Bible does not contain historical, geographical, or archaeological discrepancies. They end up finding one minor discrepancy and think the Bible is no longer God’s word.

      Inerrancy means that everything that the Bible teaches is true. Or that everything that the Bible confirms is true.

      • Andrew Dowling

        “because they mistakenly think inerrancy is the idea that the Bible does not contain historical, geographical, or archaeological discrepancies.”

        “Inerrancy means that everything that the Bible teaches is true.”

        I am bewildered by your brain.

        • MattB

          I’m sorry, but please explain what’s inaccurate about that statement, other than your rude comment?

          • Inerrancy normally refers to the concept that the Bible has no errors (but especially in the original manuscripts. There is also another term, called infallibility, which is normal circumstances, would be considered synonymous with inerrancy. However, some theologians differentiate between the two saying that while the Bible contains errors (even huge errors, such as the death of Judas), that the Bible contains truth and this is infallible.

            However, that in and of itself is a pretty weak argument. It’s like people thinking the Word of God is synonymous with scripture, when it isn’t. The Word of God is a message from God to his people. The Bible contains the Word of God, but is not the Word of God. The Bible points to the ultimate Word of God: Jesus, the Logos.

          • MattB

            I’m just simply saying that many people assume that if the Bible makes a historical error(which I don’t believe it does) that somehow comprimises Christianity, or that Jesus of Nazareth was raised from the dead.

            That is a fallacious line of reasoning to think that. I don’t see why you need to like his comment, when my comment wasn’t stupid or misplaced. It’s a non-sequitir

          • Then how would you explain the discrepancies listed above? I would especially like to hear your explanation for how Judas died. Did he kill himself as Matthew says, or did he trip and have his bowels spill out, as Acts says?

            That the Bible has errors in it is not a problem. It is a religious book, not a history book. It does not diminish my faith in Christ one iota.

          • MattB

            Well the Bible is a book of history. It has been verified by archaeology, history, and science, as well as prophecy.

            Matthew mentions only a hanging; Luke mentions Judas falling headlong (i.e., headfirst) and bursting open in the middle (i.e., at his midsection).

            Acts records the result of Judas’s hanging. So I don’t really see the contradiction

          • Who bought the field?

          • MattB

            The Jews bought the field in Judas’ name, on his behalf

          • Which New Testament source says that?

          • I think that was in Mark 17.

          • MattB

            Matthew 27 5-8 and Acts 1:18-19

          • Ah, but neither says what you claim. One says that the Jewish leaders bought the field. The other says that Judas bought it. Rather than accept that they say two different things, you have created a third story that combines the two, but which is not what either source says.

          • MattB

            but, Judas was already dead. Logically, it would make sense to say that the Jews bought the field in Judas’s name.

          • When was Judas already dead, and how do you know that? If you mean that Judas was already dead when the Jewish leaders bought the field, then how could Judas have gone to a field “he” purchased and died there?

          • MattB

            When he hanged himself

          • He was already dead when he hanged himself? That is an attempt at harmonization that I have not previously encountered…

          • MattB

            Yes 😉

          • Jim

            Yeah I guess that’s right that Jews bought the field (Matt 27) and also Judas (a Jew) bought the field (Acts 1). So in the sense that all parties were Jewish, a Jew/Jews bought the field. 🙂 You would expect discrepancies because none of the gospel writers were eye witnesses and were writing 40-60 years after Jesus lived.

          • MattB

            Well, I mean the gospel writers draw on eyewitness accounts

          • Yeah, not all of it. Not by a long shot.

          • Ooh, question for you then. Do you have any non-biblical sources for Herod’s massacre of children?

            For myself, I think there are lots and lots of historical errors and flat out “embellishments”. But I don’t think that detracts from the truth of the message.

          • MattB

            The massacre is somewhat of an open question to scholars. However, it’s not implaussible to say that it happened. Herod was a pretty evil man.

            My main point earlier regarding Inerrancy and infallibility was that these theological beliefs are not necessary in order for Christianity to be true.

            Jesus resurrection does not depend upon whether or not the bible has minor errors. Because some people think that if the bible has a few errors, then Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, but that is a non-sequitir.

            You sum up my main point “For myself, I think there are lots and lots of historical errors and flat out “embellishments”. But I don’t think that detracts from the truth of the message.” Even though I don’t believe the Bible makes any major errors that can be reconciled. I do agree that even if it did, it doesn’t take away from the truth of the message.

          • Renforth

            I am not sure this is very “safe” ground, if they “embellished” some parts which parts? and if they did than how do we know what is accurate and true and what is just fanciful thinking? is the resurrection an “embellishment?” and if you can believe in a resurrection that says to me you would be willing to believe in anything else . . .

        • MattB

          You know what, I forgive you for being so rude.

          • Andrew Dowling

            I’m not really sure how my comment was rude . . .a tinge of snarky humor, but 90% of my post was pointing out your own discrepancy via quoting you.

            But hey, if forgiving my rudeness gets you brownie points with Jesus, knock your socks off.

          • MattB

            I’m not saying the fact that you pointed out my error was rude, I simply meant the way you worded it. It came of to me as though I were some retarded person, and no amount of works that I do will get me to heaven. It is only through Christ alone. I want to love others because Christ loved me:)

          • Wonder

            I’m confused – is it acceptable to address people with cognitive disabilities in a condescending manner? Are you insulted that someone would mistake you fo such a person because you’re entitled to more respect than is due a “retarded” person?

          • MattB

            Are you suggesting that I’m retarded?

      • nadineharris

        Ehrman did not lose his belief because of inerrancy. Inerrancy is the first thing to go. He became an agnostic because he could not accommodate himself to the cruelty God allows to happen. That was not consistent with the nature of the Bible’s God.

        • MattB

          Yes, Nadine. Inerrancy was one of the main reasons why he lost his faith. His faith tumbled like a house of cards during his studies at Princeton because of a supposed biblical error he found.

          • Gary

            No it’s not. Ehrman clearly states many times in his books that suffering caused him to become agnostic. If you do not believe it, I can quote him. But I don’t think it is worth the time to look it up. Actually, he wrote a whole book about it. Nadine is right. Clearly you have not read his books entirely through, otherwise you wouldn’t make the statement.

          • MattB

            Gary, I don’t disagree with that. I’ve seen his arguments in debates where he typically brings that up. I’m simply saying that inerrancy was one reason why he lost his faith, but it’s not the main reason.

          • See my comment above. Are you accusing Ehrman of lying, or have you simply not read what he has written about this? If the latter, then why are you being so insistent about something you are not well informed about?

          • MattB

            Oh no sir, I just read that during Ehrman’s studies, he found something troubling in Mark and it seemed to make him lose confidence in the scriptures, but I certainly don’t disagree with ya’ll that Evil and Suffering was the main reason for losing his faith

          • Gary

            I think he said specifically that he ceased to be a fundamentalist because of inerrancy. I can identify with that, since I cannot be a member of a church that requires inerrancy. But that does not obliterate faith. Just means moving more to the left, which is not a sin, just a recognition of the obvious.

          • MattB

            Oh okay, I guess I was misinformed. But, inerrancy did move his confidence in scripture from the right to the left.

        • Jim

          Agree Nadine, BE states many times that suffering was his main reason for becoming an agnostic. Most people who claim that he left because of inerrancy have not read any of his books and usually rely on assessments from apologists (for whom the Bible is the fourth member of the Trinity 🙂 ).

          • nadineharris

            Thank you, Jim and Gary. He does say it many times, and in several of his books. I do not share all his opinions, but I am struck by the humility and respect with which he presents them.

          • MattB

            I’m not arguing against you nadine. All i’m saying is that inerrancy was another reason that tumbled his faith downwards.

            Evil and Suffering is the main reason though. I’ve heard him quote many times in his debates where he points to a certain passage in the OT and gets mad at God.

          • MattB

            I think it’s really sad that he lost his faith, not for historical reasons but for personal reasons. I hope he knows Christ one day

          • MattB

            I didn’t claim he left because of inerrancy. I claimed that inerrancy was part of it. The main reason though was as you say evil and suffering.

          • But you are still maintaining something that is incorrect, unless you are accusing Ehrman of lying. He did not lose his faith when he discovered inerrancy was wrong. He moved at that stage from fundamentalism to a liberal form of Christianity. It was the problem of evil that led him to become an agnostic.

          • MattB

            Oh okay, then I guess I was misinformed, I’m sorry about that Dr.McGrath. What I meant to say was what you wrote.

          • MattB

            So, are you having a good Easter Dr.Mcgrath? Did you have a good service at your church?

          • It was quite amazing – I just posted a blog post about it!

          • MattB

            I’ll have to check it out:) I go to Champion Forest Baptist Church, a mega-church in Houston, Tx.

      • Jason Garrison

        Sadly, not even the participants at the Evangelical Theological Society, an organization that champions inerrancy, can agree on what inerrancy really means. I know, I was a member for years. Most meetings had some discussion about the limits of inerrancy. Some think that it means the Bible is true in every way (that’s impossible…no form of literature can pull that off). Others say that it’s only true based on historical context. Some say it is only spiritually true. It really depends on who you’re talking to.

        All this time and effort spent on refining inerrancy, when we are all really after the same thing: an accurate understanding of the Bible.

        By the way, inerrancy doesn’t save us from absurd interpretations. Snake handlers and faith healers, for example. are strict inerrantists.

        • MattB

          Good point. I think it’s a disputed topic that can go wrong one way or the other.

      • Stephen Hale

        That’s infallibility, Mr. Brown.

        • MattB

          Yes, sir:)

      • Wonder

        Then Ken Ham and his fans are wasting a lot of time and energyconfusing people about the whole ‘if the earth wasn’t created in 6 days, the bible isunreliable” shtick.

        • MattB

          Yes. Ken Ham is wasting his time because that isn’t what makes one a Christian. Believing in the Resurrection of Jesus and Jesus as your Lord and Savior makes you a Christian.

  • You may not remember this, but many years ago (can’t honestly believe how many), we had a discussion about biblical inerrancy in a hotel cafe in Riga, Latvia. I remember asking you how I could, as a Christian, reasonably pick and choose which parts of the Bible to believe and which to reject.

    We never did get to finish that conversation, but many of the questions you raised stuck with me, and still do. I recently had a debate with a friend of mine over this issue and it amazed me how much your influence manifested itself once I started articulating my position. If you ever wonder how much you impact your students, here’s proof that at least in one young man’s case the impact goes quite deep. Thanks for setting me on the right path and giving me a chance to overcome the frustrating and often paralyzing doubt that used to dominate my beliefs about God.


    • Wow, that is quite a conversation you had! I really liked this summary you offered near the end: “Again you say the “Bible says this” or the “Bible says that” and yet I’ve spent paragraph after paragraph trying to explain that the “the Bible” is not a thing that can make claims, it is a collection of books written by different authors, this fact is not disputed by anyone (even you I would assume). Whether those various authors were all inspired by God and had a unified message is not the issue, the fact is that “the Bible” is not one thing but many.”

      • The problem is that, for those people, the bible really is THE BIBLE. Without it, their belief system crumbles to dust. There is a whole host of cognitive biases (psychological obstacles) to overcome, before we can even meaningfully get them to see things from our perspective.

      • It was indeed quite a conversation (my inability to formulate concise thoughts unfortunately on full display), though the outcome seems, in retrospect, to be all too predictable. It definitely was a long struggle for me to accept that belief in God does not also have to mean belief in all the many things that seem to so often come along with that (and concomitantly, all the politicized causes that seem to stem from Christian ideology, however bastardized that theology may be).

        You definitely played a huge role in helping me think for myself and face the tough questions that always plagued me even as a devout fundamentalist, evolution-denier in my teenage years. I know from experience how difficult it can be to change someone’s mind, especially on matters of faith, but I do take heart in the knowledge that my conversion to truth proves it isn’t impossible.

    • I took a very brief glimpse of the conversation, and it quickly reminded me of my own recent attempts to talk sense to my Christian friends. It just doesn’t seem to work. Ultimately, they just blindly “have faith” in the bible—specifically, their idea of a magical bible that is almost like God in its own right. In fact, Bible and God are pretty much inseparable for them. And having this sort of blind “faith” actually makes them feel good about themselves.

      The worst part is that such “faith” in the bible cannot really be disproved, because it is to them a sort of a priori truth. That kind of foundationalist epistemology is the only form of epistemology they know. You can’t just push them into the pool and expect them to swim, because they’re too accustomed to their solid ground.

      I started out having similar beliefs, but I realised that if I really cared about truth, then I must question every belief I hold, otherwise I would remain trapped in falsehood. Many people these days seem to lack the intellectual humility/honesty/courage to deal with uncertainty. They would rather assume that they have already gotten everything completely figured out. It gives them an illusory comfort that makes life more bearable, but prevents them from seeing truth more clearly.

      Yes, the truth will set you free. But for most people, “ignorance is bliss” has become the dominant way of life, especially in “spiritual” matters that have no obvious impact on day-to-day life.

      • As I tried to express to Caleb in our discussion, I can absolutely empathize with the desire to find certainty and I understand the fear and anxiety that comes with living in a state of constant internal combat. It’s this desire to know that everything happens for a reason and that all decisions can be made for you that led me to write my senior thesis at Butler on the idea of religion as comfort through control. Consumer research has long shown that too many choices can be demotivating and even stressful, so it makes perfect sense that religion as a mechanism to limit choice would have a positive effect on mental health (as studies also seem to show).

        Inerrancy doctrine is perhaps the most frustrating barrier for me between myself and my religious family members and friends. As I once expressed to Dr. McGrath at that cafe in Latvia, the thought of removing the Bible’s infallibility opens one up to all kinds of difficult questions and stressful decisions. I can certainly appreciate the fervent desire to hold onto that certainty at all costs, even if that cost is spiritual/intellectual honesty.

        • arcseconds

          What amazes me is the insistence that everything is just simply there in the Bible, that it simply tells you what to do in the case of nuclear war, etc.

          I can kind of see how it works taking the Ten Commandments as clear instructions from God, but I really can’t fathom how somone’s mind works who insist that they can just find out what God thinks about nuclear war by reading the Bible with no more of one’s own judgement and reasoning involved than finding out what God thinks of murder.

          • Those people seem to severely lack self awareness.

            Or maybe they are just hypocritical liars.

          • MattB

            Aren’t we all hypocrites?

          • Hypocrisy is when you know the flaws/limitations of your own perspective but act as though they did not exist.

            That’s why people who act like they have the moral high ground are either unaware of their own flaws, or are actually aware of them and thereby being hypocritical.

          • MattB

            Just like the pharisees, saducees, and teachers of the law

          • j

            It does tell us what to do in case of nuclear war. Or a EMP that knocks out the grid. Or a colossal hurricanetsunamiearthquakevolcano. Or a Republican (or Democrat) president in 2016. Or running out of coffee at the outset of a difficult Monday morning and then being road raged at by some jerk…

            Love God. Love your neighbor. (And by neighbor, Jesus seems to mean anyone in the neighborhood of Earth.)

          • arcseconds

            OK, but being told “love your neighbour” kind of lacks a degree of specificity, doesn’t it? Which means that you have to put some of your own thought into how to apply it.

            Just to take one of your examples, there will be Christians voting for all presidential candidates in 2016. I’m sure many of them honestly believe that they are loving God and loving their neighbour by their choice. Many of them will have put a lot of effort into either thinking about the individual candidates, or developing their own political philosophy which makes the choice obvious (to them). Yet they make different decisions. The Bible doesn’t give advice on this issue that removes the need to do any thinking for yourself.

      • buricco

        Some people take “The Word was God” to the totally wrongheaded conclusion.

    • arcseconds

      Thanks for posting this, I found it interesting.

      I’m interested in how people come to very different understandings of things than they formerly had. Particularly when they trade in rigid dogma for something more fluid, but it sometimes happens the other way around and I’m interested in that, too.

      Could you say a bit more as to how it came about that this happened to you?

      Also, you mention several times in your conversation things you don’t understand about some Christians, e.g.

      I am not a believer in Biblical inerrancy, but rather believe in the Bible as a profound reflection of human beings trying to make sense of their experience with the divine. I will be honest and say that I don’t completely understand why this is so controversial with other Christians.

      That does not mean I am not a Christian. I confess that I do not completely understand the need that many Christians feel to place this “Word of God” label over the entirety of scripture and say that every word of it is unequivocally true…

      But you also said that you were much the same as Caleb once. Does this mean you once did understand these things, but now don’t? Or was that a difference between you and Caleb? Or did you never really understand these things but thought you did? or… something else?

  • Brant Clements

    The chart, while amusing, is also somewhat misleading. “Probably just got written down wrong…” Is neither the most reasonable explanation nor “what everyone else says” when confronted by biblical contradictions. “Different writers had different theological agendas” would be better.

    It’s Holy Saturday. I’m tired and cranky. Forgive me.

    • Wonder

      that could be the “or something”

  • Nick Hill

    I found this very helpful by my good friend Dr. Andy Bannister: http://www.answering-islam.org/Andy/Resurrection/harmony.html

    • I would be interested to know why you found it helpful. It takes extensive liberties with the text, for instance making one of the Gospel’s genealogies Mary’s despite the fact that the text of the Bible says otherwise.

      Are there any texts that cannot be harmonized if one has enough determination to do so, and cares more about being able to harmonize them than about sticking closely to what they texts in question actually say? And since such harmonizations at best end up creating a metanarrative that is not what any of the Biblical texts actually says, how is this approach supposed to be respecting the Bible?

      • TomS

        I understand that not only Bible has been subject to this treatment, that so are texts of many religions, including the Iliad and Odyssey – but I don’t know of any source which treats of this wider phenomenon.

      • Nick Hill


        Matthew, Luke and John certainly expected their gospels to be read alongside the others — this is Bauckham’s point in “The Gospels for All Christians: Rethinking the Gospel Audiences.” They’d seen how widely and quickly Mark’s gospel had spread (thanks to excellent communication networks and the pax romana) and so knew full well their works would not be read in isolation.

        All four gospel writers are writing bios literature (see Richard Burridge’s, “What Are The Gospels”) and are trying to write history; that’s what they’re aiming at. Luke, especially, has an excellent reputation as a historian, getting all manner of small details right that we’ve verified using e.g. archaeology. So we’re not abusing the text to handle the gospels as we would other historical sources and historians engage in harmonization all the time. (Read any biography of anyone from Julius Caesar to Winston Churchill and they’ll have harmonized sources).

        Given this, don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with harmonizing experiments, as long as we take account of the features all historians use (telescoping, selection, writing-from-a-particular-witness’-perspective etc.) and thus don’t try to force a reading.

        It’s also worth reflecting on how foundational these resurrection stories are and thus how early. These were the stories that caused the very formation of the Christian community (they have many features that mark them out as very, very early—e.g. the lack of scriptural quotations; the lack of theological reflection; the presence of the women as witnesses etc.)

        Forster, who Andy quotes in the article, is not alone in how he reads the two genealogies of Jesus. That goes way back to many of the church fathers who, arguably, knew Jewish genealogical writing practices possibly better than us.

        On the resurrection accounts in general, these are two helpful books:

        – Licona, Michael R., The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2010.

        – Wright, N. T., The Resurrection of the Son of God, Christian Origins and the Question of God Vol. 3. London: SPCK, 2003.

        • I’m not opposed to harmonization in principle. It is when someone refuses at whatever cost the natural human explanation of discrepancies – that one or both sources in question simply got some details wrong or invented material to keep the story flowing where they lacked information – that it becomes problematic.

          Jewish genealogies for females only became an interest in later times. And so treating one of the genealogies as Mary’s ignores the context, as well as what the text itself explicitly says.

    • What struck me immediately, upon reading the introduction, was the author’s explanation of these accounts as “eye-witness” – the important element being that different witnesses will often latch onto different details when recounting the same event. While I agree with this, it strikes me as talking out both sides of one’s mouth when you introduce human agency in the retelling of the resurrection story in order to assuage doubt stemming from an uneven narrative and yet remove it when trying to claim biblical inerrancy by suggesting that all the various authors of the Bible were acting as agents of a divine will.

      • TomS

        This also struck me, as in the authorship of the Pentateuch. On occasion the Pentateuch seems to be citing another source. And creationists some time say that Genesis 1 is eyewitness from God (the only one who was there to see it, and therefore the only way that we can learn about it). Yet otherwise we are told that Moses learned of the past by transmission from Adam and so on; and that he learned from the wisdom of Egypt. And again, that the Pentateuch was dictated word-for-word from God. But that Moses could not know about what is in the last few verses of Deuteronomy, which had to been written by Joshua. All, I trust, not being told us by the same one authority. 🙂

  • rarey4

    I thought it was obvious that the Book of Mark “outranks” all but a 3 to 1 “vote”.

    Then again I’m odd. 😉

  • J

    As Christians, do we worship God? Or the Bible? What if, after all this time, it turned out that most of the Bible wasn’t true. Or wasn’t inspired by God? Or parts of it were, but parts of it were added, edited, and left out? What if someone found a cave of scrolls that proved the whole NT was written by over-enthusiastic, misinformed zealots? (Not that we ever see that happening nowadays!) What happens to our faith if we can’t base it on the Bible? Do we have anything deeper than a stubborn adherence to a collection of books? For many of us, no. So, have we not then raised the Bible up as an idol? Like a golden calf in the seeming absence of God in our lives? Do we not teach our children to sing songs praising the B-I-B-L-E? Why are so many of us afraid of the possibility of losing the Bible? Are we afraid that we will lose the standardization of belief systems? And with that, what power we have? Does it then blur the lines of us/them? And how do we know that we are us, and not them, unless we have the Bible litmus test? How do we even know for sure if we are going to heaven, if the Bible is not inerrant? Terrifying stuff. I get it. But when you experience God, that fear begins to subside. That Princeton class that seemed to decimate the Bible you once held so dear, no longer pulls that rug out from under you. Putting one’s faith in a book written, re-written, translated, lost, found, edited, compiled, separated, and decided upon by a bunch of men, becomes the sand which the fool built his house upon. But putting one’s faith in God. In the Word of God that is Jesus Christ. In the Spirit of God with each of us. That is the rock on which the wise man built his house. We can trust that we will be lead to Truth. We can trust that our brothers and sisters who seek Truth will also find it. We can have peace that we need not battle each other, and a world of unbelievers, over every last minute detail. Because we can trust that God is working in them, too.

  • belovedspear

    Literal inerrancy is to Protestantism what ecclesiastical inerrancy is to Catholicism. Both strangle the Spirit. http://buff.ly/1iibnNy

  • Ziggy Nobutz Forewe

    II read the graphic first and was “what” and then I read the text and was “okay” and then I read the different comments and am:

  • JWF

    Yes, These are apparent contradictions. They are explainable if you use sound Biblical research principles.

    One perspective on the crucifixion is that there were Four crucified with Jesus Christ.

    Here is a study for all to consider.

    2 Timothy 2:15
    Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

    • Ah, the approach that makes the Bible “inerrant” by saying that none of the Gospels got things right, that the actual story was not known until the Gospels were collected and read together.

      It is amazing how some people are willing to consider such an attack on what the Gospels actually say “sound Biblical research principles.”

      • JWF

        You rejoice in your unbelief and mock those who have faith.
        I don’t believe in four minutes you even read the article.
        That shows your intellectual dishonesty and lack of integrity.

        • Your last two sentences are an expression of unbelief and lack of faith. How ironic. I am not expressing unbelief, I am trying to combat your attempt to undermine what the Bible actually says in favor of a narrative you have woven out of the combination of them but which none of the texts in the Bible actually says.

          • JWF

            Yes, you are combative.

            Sent from my Verizon Wireless 4G LTE smartphone

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            James F. McGrath

            Your last two sentences are an expression of unbelief and lack of faith. How ironic. I am not expressing unbelief, I am trying to combat your attempt to undermine what the Bible actually says in favor of a narrative you have woven out of the combination of them but which none of the texts in the Bible actually says. 9:17 a.m., Tuesday April 22

            Reply to James F. McGrath

            James F. McGrath’s comment is in reply to JWF:

            You rejoice in your unbelief and mock those who have faith.
            I don’t believe in four minutes you even read the article.
            That shows …
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  • JWF

    Great teaching on this subject for those who have an interest.

  • houseman

    On the last point in this matrix, about how Judas died. Seeing that most may think the Bible has errors in writing. Look at it this way. Matthew’s account is from a person who was from that time when it happened. Matthew knew first hand what went on the death and the buying of the field. The name which was known by those of Judea. He wrote it in his style, being a tax collector concise and to the point. “So he threw the silver pieces into the temple and withdrew, and went off and hanged himself.”[ Mt 27:5] That was all the information needed. Now Luke being a doctor, his style of writing was more informative, more detailed. Gaining his information “from eyewitnesses and attendants of the message” (Lu 1:2) so Luke would be more accurate in his style of writing and gathering of data. At Acts recording Peter’s words, verse 19 is a footnote about Judas’ death in some detail, how he burst open and his intestines came forth. This record like Matthew’s also given to Scripture to have someone replace him as apostle. Matthew recorded Scripture on why the money was used to buy the field. There is no error. From each person written perspective they have recorded this incident faithfully for us to read. And knowing these facts make all the rest of reading the Bible ever more sensible, knowing it is accurate. Have their been translation errors? Yes, but never no inerrancies. Just as Proverbs states: “When anyone is replying to a matter before he hears it, that is foolishness on his part and a humiliation.” [Pro 18:13]

    • So you are saying that “throwing the money into the temple” means the same thing as “he bought a field with the money”?

      I understand why you might feel compelled to try to harmonize the texts. But if in order to do so you must pretend the texts do not say what they do, then isn’t that being disrespectful to Scripture?

      • houseman

        No, James that is not what I am saying,nor what the Scriptures are saying. Matthew’s account states after remorseful Judas threw into the temple, the betrayal price of 30 pieces of silver( of shekels, $66), the chief priests used the money to buy “the potter’s field to bury strangers.” (Mt 27:3-10) This question of who bought the burial field is not one when read according to what is written. The chief priests decided they could not put the money in the sacred treasury, so THEY used it to buy the field. In Acts 1:18,19; the answer seems to be that the priests purchased the field, but since Judas provided the money, it could be credited to him. Dr. A Edersheim pointed out: “It was not lawful to take into the Temple-teasusry, for the purchase of sacred things, money that had been unlawfully gained. In such cases the Jewish Law provided that the money was to be restored to the donor, and, if he insisted on giving it, that he should be induced to spend it for something for the public weal (well-being). By a fiction of law the money was still considered Judas’, and to have been applied by him in the purchase of the well-known ‘potter’s field’.” { THE LIFE AND TIMES OF JESUS THE MESSIAH,1906,vol.II, p.575.} This purchase worked to fulfill the prophecy at Zechariah 11:13.

        • Anything can be harmonized if one is determined to do so, but the two accounts differ on who bought the field, why it was called the Field of Blood, and how Judas died.

          • houseman


  • Blake Reas

    That you accept the tripe from Meta is funny. He can’t even get the number of women right in Mark. He says one, the Bible says three. Two Mary’s and one Salome seems more than 1. But you are the bible scholar so maybe I am missing a hypothetical Mark.

    “When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. – Mark 16:1”

    I could go through the rest but I’ll keep letting you “let the Bible speak for itself”.

    • Does the fact that you got the source of the image wrong, and misspelled the name of the person who shared it and drew it to my attention, necessarily invalidate your comment? Or do errors only affect those you wish to dismiss?

      The order of the numbers is indeed wrong. Does that justify ignoring, for instance, that Matthew has the disciples go to Galilee to see Jesus there, while Luke has them remain in Jerusalem?

      At any rate, as is clear from my blog post, this post is not an affirmation of the infographic, but an exploration of its underlying theme.

  • Gary M

    Not every story told in Antiquity was meant to be taken literally.

    The reason for the apparent discrepancy in the two Judas’ accounts very likely is due to the fact that one or both stories are not historical; they were never meant to be understood literally. This issue demonstrates a major false assumption among conservative Protestants: Not every story in the Bible is historical. This statement is confirmed by mainstream NT scholar, Raymond Brown:


  • Tom Anderson

    I have been following your blog for some months now and I find your ideas incredibly refreshing and invigorating. This seems to be one of the few places left where the Bible may be discussed rationally and logically. Thank you.