This is a companion piece to the previous post, Can You Answer this Bible Stumper? I was actually doing research on another topic when I came across several atheist websites that post alleged contradictions in the Bible. The discrepancies cited are irrelevant to God’s greater plan of redemption, but I brought it to your attention for the simple fact that the devil is often in the details.
Bart Ehrman — professor, author (Misquoting Jesus), and James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill — was once a seminary student, but he stumbled over the details and became an agnostic/atheist. His books have planted seeds of doubt in the hearts of unsuspecting souls which is why we must remain ever vigilant.
He could not understand, for example, why the genealogies in Matthew and Luke differed. I know many people gaze over the genealogies because, frankly, it bores them; but the information provided is very important in Judaism as it establishes birthright. More importantly, the ancestral record follows the line of David to the Mashiac.
It may be news to those whose eyes glaze over this portion of Scripture, but the gospel writers clearly diverge on the important genealogy of Jesus. This information causes many people to stumble, or even lose faith. As a seminary student, Ehrman learned why the accounts differ, but was not satisfied with the explanation.
Do you know why the genealogies differ?
Ehrman came to the simplistic conclusion that if the Bible was the inerrant Word of God then it shouldn’t be difficult to understand. As I noted previously, this attitude reflects intellectual dishonesty and academic indolence. The professor is not qualified to chair a religious studies department at any scholastic institution.
The Bible must be understood in the context of an ancient language and culture. We can’t be so ethnocentric as to disregard who wrote the Bible and to whom it was written. What might appear to be a contradiction may simply be a reflection of our ignorance. It can be worthwhile to unplug the television and study the Word of God.
We have about 5700 copies of the Greek New Testament. Including Syriac, Latin, Coptic, and Aramaic versions there are over 24000 manuscripts (MSS) of the B’rit Chadasha. In comparison, there are less than 200 fragments and MSS of Herodotus’ History of the Ancient World. In other words, there is more extant evidence for the Bible than any number of ancient MSS including Homer’s Iliad.
Ehrman claims that there are hundreds of thousands of discrepancies in the New Testament alone. As a seminary student, Ehrman should have learned that these textual variants are typically an error in spelling or grammar. Considering that thousands of manuscripts were hand-copied it is not difficult to understand a copyist error. For example, a scribe may have penned “Jesus” rather than “Jesus Christ”, and Ehrman counts this as a discrepancy. If the “error” is repeated by a thousand scribes it is counted as 1000 discrepancies thus inflating the actual numbers.
The eight-minute video will present a brief overview of what we have discussed here. Oh, and to answer the question of the disputed genealogies, Matthew presented Jesus’ ancestry through Joseph while Luke presented the birth line through Mary. Both led back to David through his sons Solomon and Nathan. This was to fulfill the Davidic covenant and establish Christ’s authority to sit on David’s throne.
Ehrman’s objections are simply a distraction, but this is what Satan does best — deceive the unwary.
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