How to Have a Conversation About Bible Contradictions
by Jonathan Morrow
Tis the season for skepticism about the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth and the Bible. Are you ready?
Imagine that you’re meeting with a couple who is exploring Christianity at your local coffee shop and they raise the objection, “How can you trust the Gospels when they are full of contradictions?” What would you say? Here’s a simple game plan for navigating this opportunity.
First, ask them to give you a specific example of a contradiction. And if they list one, ask them why they think it is a real contradiction. Most people have just heard this slogan and repeat it . . . make them do some work here.
Next, respond to their objection. As you do, share that we must be careful not to impose twenty-first-century historical standards on a first-century text. Explain the important distinction between accuracy and precision. We live in the age of scientific precision and digital everything. The practice of first century biographers was to record an accurate summary based on eyewitness testimony.
In fact, there were no quotation marks in the Greek language. Capturing “the gist” of something was completely acceptable. The bottom line is that the earliest biographers of Jesus could be historically accurate without being as precise as we might like them to be…
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