Why it matters that the Bible is not inerrant

January 16, 2011 | By | 31 Replies More

In Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (And Why We Don’t Know about Them) (2010), Bible scholar Bart Ehrman explores many of the contradictions and inaccuracies found in the Bible, and then he comments on what his findings mean.

Early in this excellent book, Ehrman invites us to consider the discrepancies in the four Gospels with regard to what happened on the third day after Jesus had been crucified.

Who actually went to the tomb? Was it Mary alone (John 20:1)? Mary and another Mary (Matthew 28:1)? Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome (Mark 16:1)? Or women who had accompanied Jesus from Galilee to Jerusalem–possibly Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and “other women” (Luke 24:1; see 23:55)? Had the stone already been rolled away from the tomb (as in Mark 16:4) or was it rolled away by an Angel while the women were there (Matthew 28:2)? Who or what do they see there? An Angel (Matthew 28:5)? A young man (Mark 16:5)? Two men (Luke 24:4)? Or nothing and no one (John)? And what were they told? To tell the disciples to “Go to Galilee where Jesus will meet them (Mark 16:7)? Or to remember what Jesus had told them “while he was in Galilee,” that he had to die and rise again (Luke 24:7)? Then, do the women tell the disciples what they saw and heard (Matthew 28:8), or do they not tell anyone (Mark 16:8)? If they tell someone, whom do they tell? The 11 disciples (Matthew 28:8)? The 11 disciples and other people (Luke 24:8)? Simon Peter and another unnamed disciple (John 20:2)? What do these disciples do in response? Do they have no response because Jesus himself immediately appears to them (Matthew 20:9)? Do they not believe the women because it seems to be “an idle tale” (Luke 24:11)? Or do they go to the tomb to see for themselves (John 20:3)?

[Page 48]

Ehrman’s book contains a 40-page chapter called “A World of Contradictions,” in which he sets out hundreds of these contradictions and discrepancies. He goes to pains to remind his readers that this is simply a small sampling of the many more such issues one will find if one reads the Bible “horizontally,” making a careful effort to compare each version of a story with other versions of the same story in other books of the Bible. Although in some of these differences are insignificant, one will find others that are substantial. One of the discrepancies that Ehrman finds more significant is the debate over the date Jesus dies.

In Mark, Jesus eats the Passover meal (Thursday night) and is crucified the following morning. In John, Jesus does not eat the Passover meal but is crucified on the day before the Passover meal was to be. Moreover, in Mark, Jesus is nailed to the cross at nine in the morning: and in John, he is not condemned in till noon, and then is taken out and crucified.

[Page 27]

After producing enough evidence to convince anyone other than the fundamentalist that there are plenty of contradictions and inaccuracies, Ehrman proposes several conclusions we can draw:

1. The Bible is not completely inerrant. There are many errors.
2. Christians “of a certain persuasion–such as many of those among whom I live, in the American South–would ever think to ask such a question”: Is it now impossible to be a Christian given these many discrepancies? Ehrman suggests that most Christian faiths will remain “unscathed” by the imperfection of the Bible.
3. It is important to let each author in the Bible “speak for himself and not pretend that he is saying the same thing as another.” Urban points out that each of the authors has his own agenda, and these become visible when we read each author separately and carefully. Erhman goes to great pains to distinguish the writings of the four Gospel authors, and this careful analysis has the effect of humanizing these authors and their writings.
4. It is impossible to read the books of the Bible as “disinterested historical accounts. None of them is that.” At this point, Ehrman offers this thought experiment: “what would you do as a judge in a court trial in which you have conflicting testimony from eyewitnesses? One thing you would certainly not do is assume that each witness is 100% correct.”

If there is an overall theme of Ehrman’s book, it is that people should stop reading the Bible with the assumption that each of the authors is basically saying the same thing. Ehrman contrasts this “harmonizing approach” to reading the Bible, which is based upon emotional reading, to the approach he recommends, the “historical-critical approach.” This latter approach assumes that the Canon of Scripture–

“[T]hat is, the collection of the books into one book considered in some sense to be authoritative for believers–was not the original form in which the biblical books up.. When Paul wrote his letters to the churches he founded, he did not think that he was writing the Bible. He thought he was writing letters . . . . These books were written in different times and places, under different circumstances, to address different issues; they were written by different authors with different perspectives, beliefs, assumptions, traditions, and sources.

[Page 63]

[Note: I’ve written another short post about other points Ehrman makes in this same book].

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Category: Religion

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (31)

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  1. There's nothing new or revolutionary in what Ehrman is saying here. Biblical scholars have been telling us this for centuries. What's truly amazing is how many people continue to deny it.

    • Erich Vieth says:

      Sterling: Ehrman admits this right up front. No serious Bible scholar would be surprised by any of the Bible analysis he presents. What's amazing is how all of this careful analysis gets thrown out the window by preachers on Sunday. Instead of sticking to the knowledge the learned in the seminary, they throw lots of "red meat" to the masses. I suppose it makes for job security. Ehrman discusses this issue beginning on page 12, in a chapter called "From Seminary to Pulpit." "[P]asters are, as a rule, reluctant to teach what they learned about the bible in in seminary." See also, this post: http://dangerousintersection.org/2010/08/22/if-bi

  2. Karl says:

    Given the various types of seminaries in Europe and America, I still don't understand why we don't currently have an Islamic Cleric teaching us about the real meaning of John 3:16.

    • Erich Vieth says:

      Karl: I think I understand your frustration with attempts to humanize the scripture, to suggest that fallible human beings wrote it and that parts of it are fabrications. I would suggest that Ehrman's basic findings are uncontroversial among most of those who teach seminary classes in scripture. Instead of going around insisting that there is a "real meaning" of scripture, including the passage you cited, I would agree with Ehrman that we should ask some hard questions about who wrote it, what were his or her motives, and whether there is evidence supporting it? Honest and competent American bible scholars are doing more damage to your version of religion that any "Islamic Cleric." I would suggest that you sit down and do the "horizontal analysis" Erhman is suggesting, or at least go read his book before you attack it.

  3. Rick Massey says:

    Many years ago a read a preface to a book (I think it was called "Jesus Through the Ages" or something like that) that very carefully explained the historical progression of the understanding of Jesus from Jewish religious leader, to the Messiah, to the son of God. I was amused that the preface was written by Billy Graham. Here was a guy who would never have admitted on his televised "crusades" that the Jesus he was promoting never existed in the first half of the first century – writing the preface to a book explaining exactly that. On the other hand, I have known many otherwise highly educated theologians that genuinely do not know or do not accept the mountain of evidence that the Bible is a collection of writings of men at various times that did not agree with one another, and that in most cases were completely unaware of what one another had to say about a given subject. They lived centuries apart under vastly different circumstances. The biggest problem today is with the concept of "faith." When the starting point is that you will believe something regardless of whether or not it is supported by evidence, one is not likely to end in learning anything new or useful.

  4. Karl says:

    Ehrman is popular with you for one basic reason, his attempts to reconsider/better understand the details of how the Bible was written resonate with your personal outlook on the Bible in general. Just stories, so why try to make a serious attempt to better understand its significance. Ehrman is only popular in the liberal seminaries that you seem to have few problems with. There are significant differences with Ehrman's writings by the majority of Protestant fundamental and evangelical seminaries.

    If you don't catch this you really live in a closed world yourself.

    You tear down nearly everything that applies to the majority Christian mindset in America. You consider Islamic Clerics as less dangerous only because they are not the majority mind set in America.

    Would you make the same statements if you had been raised in an Arabic Country?

    It appears to me that you accept that any mind set that agrees with your mind set regarding the need to remove the influence of the Christian Majority is worth tolerating.

    In some people's minds "successfully" questioning what the common translations and interpretations of passages may mean makes it rather easy to disbelieve or believe anything else one would like.

    What is in the Bible therefore makes no difference to you, except when it seems to make the "goodness" of human animal culture attainable in spite of what was written by a bunch of deluded bigots who lived in extremely backward and closed societies.

    Few have taken up the challenge to deeply consider what actually happened to Canaan because it simply doesn't matter to them.

    You don't need to take up this challenge concerning Canaan, but don't say it isn't important for human animals, since thats all you believe we are.

    It reveals a root of social struggle and class envy that has existed for a very long time.

    • Erich Vieth says:

      Karl: You've had your say. Based on what I've read and people I've spoken to, Erhman's work is standard fare for many American seminaries, though not those who insist on the claim that the bible is "inerrant." If even 1% of what Erhman writes is accurate, the claim of inerrancy is hogwash. And please note that Ehrman does not rely on ungrounded opinion. Rather, he has studied old manuscripts, and newer ones, and made comparisons. It's a straight-forward methodology. I know that it pains you, but it is work I can respect because it a meticulous work that essentially connects the dots.

  5. Karl,

    Two things: one, my appreciation for Ehrmann is because his work is sound. That it bothers so many folks doesn't make it less worthy.

    Secondly: the comparisons to other outlooks, at least on my part, is based on my assertion that they ALL have equal validity…and therefore are equally flawed.

    Yes, the Christian majority gets attacked more here, because we live here and that is the background. If we lived in an Arab country, the impulse would be to attack Islam. The main difference is, that here, the government—because it is SEPARATE from religions—can't put us in jail for expressing our opinions. Over there, we would be in danger, in some places, of a death sentence.

    I don't consider any of them harmless. Religion has at its heart an absolute need to be right regardless of fact or opinion. That impulse is repressed here.

    The reason you don't care for Ehrmann is because—I think—he provides people with more reasons to walk away from the whole edifice that is Christianity. Whether they do or not is still their choice.

    So nice to have a choice.

  6. Karl says:

    Erich,

    Thank you for your statement, "Based on what I've read and people I've spoken to . . "

    The issue is not that fallible people wrote the scriptures, therefore someone can search for and assume the existence of potential fallible perspectives. The Bible often presents two perspectives that when looked at separately degrades the full meaning of the Bible into your own personal opinion and perspective.

    When a person reads something in the Bible that strikes a chord of agreement with their own racism, social bias, or pet theological doctrine they should simply read a little further and they will likely find that what they were running around stating was speaking for God, was clearly not speaking the full counsel of God.

    When one comes to know the true God of creation better, those searching for potential fallible perspectives are seen as unwilling to consider that they have not looked beyond their own faulty ideas and beliefs.

    The issue to me is that people will create social struggle, class envy and blind allegiance to "religious based doctrines" or even "scientifically derived" theories that are perceived as right while those that don't agree with them are wrong and are therefore enemies that need to be labelled as such so others don't get associated with these same people.

    Canaan must have had a significant enough of a difference in some manner or another from the rest of Ham's sons so that he was somehow linked to a curse upon a mistake of his Father, thus making him subservant to Ham's other sons. There was no reason for this to be a generationally linked prejudice.

    Class struggle has thus been around for so long because a son's differences can apparently be traced both to and from his father. Thus linking "curses" or differences of a child's generation to the generation most directly linked to them.

  7. Jim Razinha says:

    I still have a NOVA episode on my DVR ("The Bible's Buried Secrets") about the considerable archeological evidence that indicates the Israelites were actually servants of the Canaan civilization that collapsed. Dated writings that are among the earliest Hebrew script contain some of the precursors of the stories that eventually became part of the Bible, and the Canaan/Israel reversal in roles. It sounded a lot better that Israel defeated Canaan (fascinating, the interpretations that allow it wasn't genocide) than Canaan collapsed, leaving its minions to wander around for a while stewing before abandoning polytheism for monotheism. The show also discusses the amalgamation (my word) of various stories and texts into one. That's why the flood story is so messed up – two different sources that someone or someones attempted to meld into one (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/bible/flood.html). And why there are so many incongruencies and editing errors throughout the entire Bible.

    Here's the link to the PBS site: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/bible/. Just more and interesting information. I also just watched the one (NOVA episode)on Solomon's mines. The dating evidence there turned the traditionally accepted timeline on its ear and seems to support that there may have actually been a kingdom larger than a self-aggrandizing tribe as is usually inferred.

    So Canaan seems to be a former master that the no longer subservient Israelites had to obey, and over time got wrapped into the oral history more favorable to the survivors, uh, "conquerors" who came up with a better story. Not sure where Ham came into it. (Nothing about a generationally linked prejudice – just human nature to tell bigger and better stories.)

  8. Mike M. says:

    What a weird debate. The Bible is obviously filled with clear contradictions and opposing perspectives of the same "events". This jumbled novel needed an editor, and then a definitive re-write to even come close to historical plausibility. It does not, in my opinion, matter if the Bible is "accurate" or not. It just doesn't matter. It's all perspective, and all perspective is gamble. I think both dogmatic belief and dogmatic disbelief are fundamentally flawed positions–two polarities of the same "disease."

    What hubris it takes to assume that we domesticated primates can now know absolutely the "intentions" of the Universe ("God" if you insist) or the final answer to how we got here and how it all works. Monotheistic religious faith seems quaint and absurd, the convictions of hard science get continually overthrown, and even common sense is on shaky ground (afterall, the Earth "seems" flat). Certainty is a mirage. In my mind, the only solid stance is pure agnosticism…about everything. Doubt, not Belief. With doubt all things are possible, even the impossible.

  9. Jim,

    The most interesting thing to me was from Michael Woods' examination of the Trojan War. He showed that Canaan was a Hittite client-state and at about the presumed time of the Trojan War there was a general collapse of powers all around Mediterranean and Aegean basins. The Hittites experienced a tremendous crisis, the culture contracted, making room for the Babylonians. During the interregnum is the proposed time when the Israelites entered Canaan. They would have found a country in chaos, politically and economically crippled.

    The coda—once the Babylonians got their act together and reestablished the power base that had existed under the Hittites, Canaan was summarily reabsorbed. (So much for the Covenant, eh?)

  10. Jim Razinha says:

    I recommend the NOVA episode – an interesting examination. As noted in my comment, the archeological evidence indicates that the Israelites left Canaan rather than entered it.

    As not noted in my comment, archeological evidence of any kind supporting any of the biblical stories is practically nil. Thomas Thompson's (rather dry) book "Mythic Past" is subtitled "Biblical Archeology and the Myth of Israel". But Thompson is less well received than Ehrmann, though no less the scholar.

  11. Jim Razinha says:

    I meant to throw in an opinion on agnosticism just to stir the pot: cop out. Simple and pure. Agnostic about everything makes no sense. Agnosticism is not "doubt". It is the stance that we cannot ever know, not that we can't trust what we do or do not know. Of course, it is usually applied to religion.

    Agnostics are wishy washy non-committal bet hedgers. Now, targeted agnosticism is appropriate. It probably applies to pre-Big Bang, and the issue of which god, if any, is real or not.

    • Erich Vieth says:

      There, there, Jim. I'm almost there. I don't use that term anymore. I call myself a skeptic rather than an atheist, until the person I'm talking to trusts me that I'm not a name-calling strident atheist. Ebonmuse has convinced me that I need to use the "A" word, despite the social hurdles it presents. It comes out eventually in conversations with strangers, but not in the first few sentences.

  12. Mike M. says:

    Jim, Thanks for the opportunity to clarify and refine my perspective. The model of agnosticism that I currently find most valuable is my suspicion that there is much we cannot know with 100% certainty (OK, agnosticism about everything was a bit too strong I'll admit). I like to put things on a scale of probability–what seems most absurd (ex. an invisible god living in the sky) goes in the bucket labeled "Low Probability" and what seems most plausible (ex. evolution) goes in the "High Probability" bucket.

    I feel it's important to leave myself some wiggle room that I might be wrong about something, in which case I can abandon my previous model for a more accurate one.

    I like to remain open to further enlightenment. If you'd like to call me "wishy washy" so be it. By the way, you have labeled and dismissed ALL agnostics as "wishy washy non-commital bet hedgers". In one sweeping gesture you linguistically corralled, marginalized and stereotyped all agnostics as a collective, which is intellectually dishonest and unfair in my opinion.

    Agnosticism (doubt, skepticism, uncertainty, etc) seems to me like a more intellectually honest platform to debate from. I'm wary of those who leap into premature certainty on concepts which they do not and cannot truly and absolutely know for sure, instead of admitting that it's really only their latest "best guess" or a cognitive gamble. I'm spooked by the dogmatic certainty of those who insist they KNOW the answer–the ones who are sure that they are "right", and so declare that you MUST be "wrong" (see Inquisition, Salem witch trials, fundamentalist preachers, Nazis, closed-minded scientists, Richard Nixon, Fox News, etc, etc….).

  13. Niklaus Pfirsig says:

    Jim,

    I disagree with your interpretation of agnosticism. I consider myself an agnostic.

    Agnosticism is about separation of belief from knowledge. It allows a person to be self critical of their beliefs in the light of new data. It helps me to be unbiased.

    In a purely logical context, the opposite of something can only be attributed as being not that something.

    The opposite of black is not black, the opposite of white is not white. An extension of this concept is that lack of evidence supporting a hypothesis does not qualify as evidence against the hypothesis.

    This basic tenet of agnosticism, means that an agnostic is less likely to react in an emotional and hot-headed manner.

    Of course, many who misunderstand the concept often view is as a wishy-ashy- waffling cop-out.

  14. Jim Razinha says:

    Doubt, skepticism, questions – all good stuff and necessary.

    I apologize for the characterization – it was unkind and unintended and not my normal approach to discourse. I am usually very careful to not make such sweeping collectives. And I really don't know where that "wishy washy" came from. Rather uncivilized of me, agreed? No excuse. (Not an excuse, but I did just watch "Jesus Camp". Perhaps a spillover?)

    I will offer that many people use the term inappropriately because they don't understand what it means. One can be agnostic and a believer or a non-believer. Again, agnosticism is not doubt, skepticism or uncertainty. It is that one cannot know. Now, definitions do change over time and it has come to be used to mean uncertainty, so I should stop being a purist and get with the program. (But I stand by agnosticism toward everything makes no sense, for there are things which we can know and not know with such a degree of certainty as to be statistically indistinguishable from fact.)

    • Erich Vieth says:

      Jim: As I recall Bertrand Russell's use of the term "agnostic," he meant that he couldn't absolutely prove the non-existence of God. He defined "atheist" as meaning that one was certain that God did not exist.

      Contrast that to my non-belief in Zeus. I'm as certain that Zeus didn't exist as I am that the sky is not made of jello. This really must mean that I'm an atheist with regard to Zeus. In America, "God" means many sorts of things to many different people. I'm an atheist with regard to many of these meanings of "God," but not all. In fact, I'm probably a theist with regard to the Einsteinian version of "God."

      I'm also an "ignostic." Such tricky labels, but I'm afraid that they are useful. An early DI post explored some of these issues. http://dangerousintersection.org/2007/03/03/the-s

      Perhaps that is why I am hesitant to simply state I am an "atheist." But if someone tells me that I need to believe in an invisible old man type of god who sends kind and decent people to hell if they don't give homage to him, I would not hesitate to proclaim that that sort of being does not exist because there isn't a lick of credible evidence.

      What about a non-sentient First Cause type of God? I'm not as confident that that sort of God doesn't exist, but my conduct here on earth is not affected by any possibility that that sort of God exists. Maybe that's because it's harder to know what people mean by that sort of God. I don't believe in the divinity of Jesus, but I suspect there was once a man named Jesus. What does that make me?

      These labels can be tricky.

  15. Jim Razinha says:

    Labels and definitions….see liberal definition vs liberal as label (slur).

    While I like Russell, his definitions don't quite work. Atheist is one who does not believe in a god, or believe one exists. Certainty is not required for belief or lack of belief.

    I'm a strong "6" on Dawkins' scale. I'll be 50 this year and in all my conscious memory, I've seen no evidence. After almost 50 years, I'm going to admit that I pretty much would have a hard time with any "evidence". It'd have to pass the Method, be testable, falsifiable and not attributed to something more rational and simpler.

    Non-sentient First Cause God? Sure. But that's really a non-starter. That would be an event driver irrespective of the supernatural and quite explainable through natural means…assuming we had the math/science.

    I don't know if there was a Jesus. I doubt it. I have wondered if the story began as a way to enhance the new religion. I thought of writing a story once, in which a woman gets knocked up, her friends make up a story to cover it and it takes on a life of its own, growing in myth and scope. And then "Life of Brian" came out and kind of shot that.

    I should probably just read and keep my fingers away from the keyboard for a while. I'm going through an ornery phase. "Jesus Camp" was profoundly disturbing yesterday. Also, I just finished reading "Life of Pi" tonight and was more annoyed with it than with the movie Inception and its following.

    • Erich Vieth says:

      Jim: I know what you mean about "Jesus Camp." I just saw it for the first time two weeks ago with one of my daughters who stared transfixed, unbelieving. She asked whether there really was such a thing, or whether this was just a strange movie. I hated to see a couple of those kids, the ones who had good minds, get all caught up in it. All the people they know and love insist in inerrancy and all that comes with it. How much "damage" could I do to those kids if only they could stay with my family for a few days!

      You're right that non-sentient first cause God is a "non-starter." (was that a pun?). But that's the foot in the door. Next thing you know, millions of people are aiming their intercessory prayers at that non-sentient first cause God, and asking "Him" for forgiveness.

  16. Erich Vieth says:

    I'm going to stop being subtle. As this short video demonstrates, churches are dangerous places. You've been warned. http://www.break.com/index/wedding-photographer-f

  17. Mike M. says:

    Jim, I like what you wrote here, "Certainty is not required for belief or lack of belief." That's an interesting angle that I've not contemplated with great depth before, and it makes a lot of sense to me. I think atheists would be well served by making statements such as "I believe there is no God" (an unarguable and true declaration) rather than the more common "There is no God" (a proclamation of certainty that can be argued against endlessly with great venom, passion and bloodshed {historically}).

    Careful use of language seems critically important in debates such as this, and I find Korzybski's General Semantics and book "Science & Sanity" helpful guides. Also E-Prime summarizes this concept nicely.
    http://www.nobeliefs.com/eprime.htm

  18. Karl says:

    If you really belive that "Jesus Camp" is anywhere close to reality then the reality you live in is sure a strange one.

    What if someone were to make a movie portraying atheists as distorting culture after culture so that their kids were encouraged to do what ever was needed to make sure atheists would one day be in charge of the government, education and the mainstream media?

    I know most atheists do not have an evil slant to their social outlooks. But it only takes a few UNCHECKED extremists in any organization to derail the best of intentions of the rank and file.

    Dictators don't care what it takes to get them into power, their only aspiration is what they will do with the power once they get it.

  19. Jim Razinha says:

    "Jesus Camp" is not only close to reality, it is a reality. Maybe not yours, and certainly not mine, but very real.

  20. TheThinkingMan says:

    Unfortunately, Jesus Camp and their illogically close-minded brain-washing of hundreds of thousands of Christian youth is too real. Fortunately, there are many camps where such ridiculous focus on inerrant Bible passages and constant mind-bending to the will of the church does not take place. They are becoming more and more frequent.

    The Bible is not inerrant. The message at the heart of it is, though. As is the message engraved in the heart and soul of every Human being regardless of national origin or religious affiliation. It is the message that we are all important, that life is meaningful, and that love is key to ending the atrocities of this world.

    The fact is that there exist evil men and women in this world who will use religion as their most effective vehicle of brain-washing, controlling, and slaughtering the masses. That's what evil is, and it exists. It is all too real.

    A thoughtful mind will perceive beyond the pointless, trivial concerns of petty ideals and seek the truth. It is good to point these inaccuracies out, especially to educate sadly misguided Christian men and women. But that does not make the underlying "spiritual" meaning of their religious ideals any less significant.

  21. Karl says:

    More than enough people have witnessed dominating adults force teens and children into the molds they have pre-destined for them to fill.

    It's fairly obvious this often ends up with children, teens and adults that will grow up and do the same to other adults, teens and children out of retaliation or agreement for what was done to them.

    Those who call this "Jesus Camp" have basically one objective – to discredit in others what they see in themselves. What kind of "damage" could Erich do to those kids if only they could stay with his family for a few days? It would only be damaging if he used the opportunity to berate and belittle those he is certain have been brainwashing their children with "god talk" as opposed to atheist talk.

    I have witnessed the "Atheist Camp" – it is called higher secular education – especially in the so called arts and sciences.

    A proper interpretation of the Bible will show its message to be one that enables a better understanding of both God and one's fellow man. An improper emphasis upon what one believes to be innerant is what makes you doubt God exists because you have only seen a small portion of what it means to experience the love and justness of their creator.

  22. Karl says:

    Erich,

    This is one of your quotes of Bart's problems that he has with the Bible.

    "In Mark, Jesus is nailed to the cross at nine in the morning: and in John, he is not condemned in till noon, and then is taken out and crucified."

    This is the reason for the apparent "conflicting" time for the crucifixion of Jesus in the Gospel of "Mark."

    Modern culture has superimposed it's time recording norms upon the Biblical one.

    There were two basic ways of tracking time in both the Biblical and Roman time periods. The one counted from the morning forward. Daylight was roughly divided in 12 hours. Thus the 9th hour was not 9:00 AM, but 3:00 in the afternoon. A second means counted from high noon onward. Thus there was darkness from about noon until the third hour from noon.

    Translators, interpreters and of course readers often apply their cultural norms to the material they are trying to comprehend.

    Also, Mark would have to be internally inconsistent to state within a matter of three verses that Jesus was crucified at 9:00 AM then to also state that darkness lasted from Noon until 3:00 PM.

    In earlier centuries, nearly no one counted and described time from "mid-night on as it is done in more recent days.

    No where in the original languages and cultural context of the Bible does it even imply that Jesus was put on the cross at 9:00 in the morning. It should be read at the 9th hour (of daylight)

    from the morning, Jesus died by means of crucifixion.

    • Erich Vieth says:

      Karl: This is one example of hundreds of apparent inconsistencies in the Bible. Christian apologists have twisted themselves into pretzels trying to explain why these hundreds of inconsistencies are consistent.

      Would you agree that the Bible is not inerrant, at least regarding some passages?

  23. Karl says:

    The writers of the Bible were human and as such they were prone to write from their own perspectives.

    Some of their perspectives were clearly not pure, holy and righteous, that does not make the messages filled with errors.

    This does not make what they had to say filled with errors, it does however make us look rather foolish to state that they lied and distorted matters to make up a story line that never happened.

  24. Jim Razinha says:

    …that does not make the messages filled with errors.

    This does not make what they had to say filled with errors, it does however make us look rather foolish to state that they lied and distorted matters to make up a story line that never happened.

    Erich, you can't win this one.

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