critics discredited the early manuscripts?
on the critics' own terms - historical fact - the Scriptures seem more
acceptable now than they did when the rationalists began the attack."
Magazine, December 30, 1974
generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went
before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it."
Criticism and perceived contradictions.
the formal investigation of literary documents. It is not criticism in the
sense of denigration, but in the sense of careful analysis. Previous sections
have already introduced lower and higher criticism. Three more forms include
historical criticism, which studies the period and circumstances
during which the text was written, literary criticism, which examines
word meanings, grammar and the style of the text, and redaction criticism
focusing on the final compilers of the Gospels themselves.
We have seen how critics
who once believed that writing did not exist prior to 1000 BC (and so theorized
no biblical writings could have occurred before that time) have turned out
to be in error. Discoveries concerning early precedents of written records
of history, and the very high degree of accuracy of the Hebrew transmission
process, have refuted earlier arguments to the contrary. But this does not
mean that Bible skeptics have run out of objections, nor are all objections
as easily answered.
The far most common
type of objection is that of a paradox or perceived contradiction.
For example: "The book of Mark says Jesus was crucified at the third hour
and John indicates his trial was still in progress during the sixth hour
- a clear contradiction!". A simple reading of the texts reveals that this
truly is how the passages are worded. So what
is the answer? As always, the answer is: study.
First, if the Bible
were fictitious, subject to change, and a work of man, not of God, why would
this contradiction have knowingly been left in the Bible? Why was it not
fixed hundreds of years ago? Or yesterday? The fact that no one did, and
the original words were let stand, however paradoxical, is itself grand
testimony to Scripture's fidelity.
Second, John not once
but consistently cites the time of day differently in his writing than do
the other gospels. While Matthew, Mark, and Luke's accounts follow the Hebrew
tradition of the day beginning at sunrise (6:00 A.M. being the first hour),
John's accounts are consistent with the Roman tradition of the day beginning
at midnight (12:00 A.M. being the first hour). The belief that the book
of John may have been written in the capital of the Roman province of Asia
would support this. Thus once both gospels are adjusted to today's timetables,
a trial in progress at 6:00 A.M. is in no contradiction with a crucifixion
following at 9:00 A.M.
9.2 Where to continue this discussion.
If you are unfamiliar
with alleged contradictions/factual errors in the Bible, collections of
them can be found on the internet. I initially wondered if I was up to the
challenge, but upon closer inspection, I found that most pages featured
roughly the same one hundred or so traditional criticisms. Of those I have
thought worthy to research, none have yet proven to be without a very reasonable
Of course, the Bible
is of such length that any number of conceivable objections could be raised
about its tens of thousands of verses. Therefore, if there is any specific
passage or paradox that you have been confronted with, or believe is unanswerable,
consult the many books dedicated towards answering such questions.
Two such popular works
include Gleason Archer's Bible Difficulties (Zondervan) and
Geisler's When Critics Ask (Victor Books). Both works spend
hundreds of pages giving intimately detailed answers on just about every
conceivable accusation from all forms of criticism. For internet-based resources,
start with this links
page under "Defense of the Christian Faith".
NEXT: How can different translations exist of the
The Bible and
How can we tell whether
or not the Bible is telling the truth?