Copyright © By Dr. Adel Elsaie, Book Title: "History of Truth, The Truth about God and Religions"

6.5 Contradictions in the New Testament

Dr. Adel Elsaie

The Genealogies of Jesus

The Last Words of Jesus

The Sign of Jonas

Is Jesus God?

The Death of Judas

When was Jesus crucified?

Jesusí Apostles

Matthew or Levi

The Arrest of Jesus

The Gentile woman

The Last Supper

What did Jesus drink on the cross?

The High Priests

Who carried Jesus' cross?

The resurrection

Jesusí Ascent:

Did Paul's traveling companions see and hear correctly?

Theological Contradiction Ė Paul versus Jesus

I was talking to a Christian friend about the authenticity of the Bible. A few days later, he gave me a book from his pastor, and told me that if I read this book, I would understand and believe in the authenticity of the Bible. The book is called "Evidence That Demands a Verdict", and was written by McDowell in 1972. The book deals with "Apologetics" which is a branch of theology that provides a defense for belief in God through a presentation of evidences that answer criticism against the Christian doctrine. The author, like all apologists, presented tremendous evidences about confirmation of the Bible by history as well as archaeology. The book emphasized the moral values that Jesus preached. The author also addressed many of the prophecies in the Old Testament and showed that these prophecies actually happened.

No single monotheist dares to say that the Old Testament or the New Testament should in any way be disregarded as a whole. No one should disagree about the effectiveness of the sayings of Jesus and Moses regarding the well being of humanity. However, a witness in a court of law is usually asked to speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Do the Christian apologists and the Sunday preachers really believe in this witness swearing in the courts? They preach half the truth and prefer to keep their congregation in the dark about the other half. No Christian preacher in a Sunday class or on TV addresses the many conflicts in the Bible. And even if he does, he is going to approach any contradiction very casually. The preacher may even use the approach of Origen and St. Augustine and explain contradictions between the biblical texts as a divine will to teach a point of a deeper meaning that lies beyond human comprehension!

Each of the four Gospels includes a large number of descriptions relating events that may be unique to a single Gospel, or common to some or all of them. Common stories that contradict each other represent a serious question about the authenticity of the Bible, especially if one holds the notion that whole Bible is divinely inspired. Also, when events are unique to one Gospel, they too raise serious problems. Thus in the case of an event of considerable importance, it should be surprising to find the event mentioned by only one Evangelist: Jesusí Ascension into heaven on the day of resurrection, for example. Elsewhere, numerous events are differently described - sometimes very differently indeed - by two or more Evangelists.

Christians are often astonished at the existence of such contradictions between the Gospels - if they ever discover them. This is because it has been repeatedly said in tones of the greatest assurance that their authors were the eyewitnesses of the events described! If there are few contradictions in the New Testament, one might attempt to find a reasonable interpretation, or blame it on our human limitation. But if the contradictions are so many and they exist in serious events, then this is another story. One might, in this case, question any event in the New Testament that does not conform to the previous religious history.

Some of the following contradictions were presented in the above sections. However, in the following section an attempt is made to list some of the contradictions in details, for the reader to appreciate the seriousness of the problem, and how can anyone explain all these conflicts. One Christian Apologist suggests a common answer for all the contradictions in the Bible. He says, "We know every apparent contradiction in the Bible. They happen because different authors receive different divine inspiration." Now, which divine inspiration do we believe? This explanation is almost as comical, or sad, as the fact that he believes that.

The Genealogies of Jesus

The French surgeon Maurice Bucaille in one complete section comprising 10 pages in his book "The Bible, The Quran, and Science" has treated this subject. Also, the Egyptian scholar Abu Zahra, in his book "Lectures in Christianity" devoted a good portion to this subject. The following is an attempt to summarize their findings:

The Gospel (like the Quran) describes the biological origin of Jesus. The creation of Jesus occurred in circumstances beyond human comprehension. Mary was a Virgin mother. Jesus is a biological miracle from God the Almighty. The two genealogies presented in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke give rise to serious problems in authenticity. These problems are a source of great embarrassment to Christian commentators, because they refuse to see in them what is obviously the product of human imagination or the lack of serious recording of the Bible. This is a case of inspiration by imagination. The following shows the some of the differences in Jesusí genealogy according to Matthew 1:6-16, and according to Luke 3:23-31.

Christian apologetics explain, for example, the discrepancy about Josephí father as Jacob was his father and Heli was his "father in law." This indicates that the western expression "father in law" was known in the Aramaic language! Other apologetics defend both Matthew and Luke as historians, authentically reporting two different family histories, and that was not their problem if the family histories were not consistent!

The Last Words of Jesus

The last words of Jesus on the cross come as a big embarrassment to Christian scholars. First, there are four different versions in the Gospels according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. These verses are part of a Christian doctrine of divine inspiration. If God had inspired these four writers, why did God inspire them to record different words? These verses are not just different words, but totally different concepts.

The following are the "last words" of Jesus:

If God inspired the Evangelists, and if they considered Jesus the Son of God, then how could there be any discrepancy about the last words of God or the Son of God on Earth? How can these verses be part of a supposed "divine inspiration"? No Answer. One Christian Scholar has a simplistic answer: Jesus said all of the above! Then why none of "divine inspirations" stated all of the above? It seems that the reasonable statement should be the one that Jesus said in his own Aramaic language. Besides those words were reported in two Gospels, Matthew and Mark. But this statement raises more serious questions.

The last words of Jesus according to Matthew and Mark represent an eternal mystery for Christianity. Why did Jesus think that God abandoned him? It is hard to believe that Jesus said that God abandoned him. There are three possibilities:

The Gospel of Barnabas gives the only reasonable explanation. The man on the cross was not Jesus. He was Judas. Barnabas reported that before the alleged arrest of Jesus, God commanded the Angels to take Jesus out of this world, Barnabas 215. Then God acted miraculously that Judas was so changed in speech and in face to be like Jesus that the apostles believed him to be Jesus, Barnabas 216. When Judas was taken to the cross, he did nothing else but cried out "God, why hast thou forsaken me, seeing that the malefactor hath escaped and I die unjustly?" Barnabas 217. The first sentence is a prayer of the Jews from Psalm 22:1, so Judas was praying to God from the Old Testament. The guardian angles of Mary ascended to the third heaven, where Jesus was in the company of Angels, and told him that his mother was weeping. Jesus prayed to God to come down to Earth to see his mother and his disciples. Then God commanded the angles to bear Jesus into his motherís house, and they kept watching over him for three days. After the third day, Jesus was carried up into heaven.

The Sign of Jonas

One of the most debatable stories in the Gospel of Matthew concerns Jonasí sign:

"Then certain of the scribes and the Pharisees answer, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee. But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no signs be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whaleís belly, so shall the son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. (12:38:40)

Luke 11:29 "and there shall no sign be given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet"

Mark is in contradiction with Matthew and Luke with regards to the sign of Jonas:

"And the Pharisees came forth, and began to question with him, seeking of him a sign from heaven, tempting him. And he sighed deeply in his spirit, and saith, why doth this generation seek after a sign? Verily I say unto you, There shall be no sign be given unto this generation, And he left them." (8:11-13).

Matthew and Luke are in agreement, and Mark is in contradiction with Matthew and Luke. Those verses refer to the discussion between Jesus and the Pharisees. Jesus says in both versions that this generation seeks a sign to believe. In Matthew and Luke, Jesus adds that there will no sign but the sign of Jonas. In Mark, Jesus says that there will be no sign without any exception. This is really outrageous. Did Jesus say the sign of Jonas or not? Can any apologist claim that Jesus said that and did not say that at the same time?!

Which version is right? Can God inspire right and wrong versions?

Is Jesus God?

In the first verse John records that Jesus equated himself with God, his father. In the second verse John states that Jesus said that his father (God) is greater than he. Athanasius adopted the first verse, and extended it to mean that God and Jesus are made of the same substance. Arius embraced the second verse. They had a heated argument in the start of the fourth Century, that lead to the first council of church.

Which version is right? Can God inspire right and wrong versions?

The Death of Judas

Which one of these stories was inspired, and which one was not? The best explanation that any Christian has come up with is this: Judas hung himself, and was hung for days and became swollen and bloated so that when they cut him down he burst open! Sometimes the explanation is almost as humorous as the fact that people actually believe the story in the first place.

When was Jesus crucified?

The third hour of the day was 9 am and the sixth hour was noon. This is even spelled out in the NRSV Bible that gives the times and not the hour.

Jesusí Apostles

The first list includes Lebbaeus Thaddaeus and only one Judas, and the second list has two Judas

Do you believe that Matthew and Luke do not know the twelve Apostles? What would they do if the number of the Apostles were 24!

Matthew or Levi

Jesus was walking and he saw a tax collector, whose name could be Matthew or Levi!

Is it the Gospel according to Matthew or according to Levi?

The Arrest of Jesus

Which one of these stories was inspired, and which one was not? Can we gain any reasonable answer from the apologetics?

The Gentile woman

Was this woman Canaanite or Phoenician?

Does it make a difference? Yes it does, if both sources claim to be inspired by God.

The Last Supper

Does it make a difference? Yes it does, if both sources claim to be inspired by God.

What did Jesus drink on the cross?

 

This is two different authors account of the same event, Jesus on the cross. The first is Matthew saying that they gave Jesus to drink vinegar (old wine) mixed with gall, which is a product that comes from the oak tree. It is used in inks and medicines.

The second verse is from Mark, and it says wine mixed with myrrh, which is a gum resin used in the making of incense. Mark clearly wrote his gospel first, and Matthew must have not been clear on what Mark meant.

The High Priests

The High Priests condemned Jesus because he had "blasphemed" God for they found no other reason. The High Priests asked whether he was Christ, the Son of God:

The contradictions of the four evangelists are understandable. None of them were present at the trial; they are merely reporting rumors.

Who carried Jesus' cross?

 

In Markís version, the soldiers forced Simon to carry the cross. In Johnís version, Jesus carried his own cross. So, Who is right? Neither of the authors of these tales can say for sure because they were not there. Half the truth Christian preachers publicize the story of John because it is more dramatic.

The resurrection

The four Gospels have different accounts about the resurrection

One really wonders why the countless collaborators of the Bible had not taken some care to synchronize this central event of resurrection, and check their references. The "original texts of Godís word" did not contain a unified story about this major event, and the simple Bible reader has the right to ask: What did really happen?

The apostlesí reaction to the phenomenal events is also most remarkable. They did not believe a word of the story told by the women, who were the two Marys and Joanna: "And their words seemed to them idle tales, and they believed them not." (Luke 24:11). John (20:9) even affirms: "For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise from the dead." This is quite incomprehensible. Throughout their four Gospels, the evangelists reported Jesusí statement that he would die and rise again, yet at the end they knew nothing about it?

Jesusí Ascent:

The account of Jesusí ascent into heaven is also contradictory:

The most important event in Jesusí life, as recorded by "Godís word," was undoubtedly the resurrection and the ascent into heaven. The evangelists reported very many unimportant details that one cannot understand why they did not describe the central event on which the Christian doctrine is based in a colorful and genuinely inspired language. If Jesus had ascended into heaven in full view of everyone, or at least in the circle of his disciples, the news would have spread through the streets of Jerusalem like a forest fire on the very first day. The people had taken a great interest in the trial and the crucifixion, but not a single Roman or Jewish historian noted down a single word about these Earth shaking events. The evangelists show only the most basic knowledge of them, and they could not have been eyewitnesses, because of their contradictory reports about these major events.

Did Paul's traveling companions see and hear correctly?

The author of the Gospel of Luke contradicts himself! This first verse is Luke relating the story of Paul's encounter with the spirit of Jesus that caused his conversion. The second is Paul relating this story to some men that had been beating him. The first says the men heard a voice but saw no man, while the second says that they saw a light but did not hear a voice.

Theological Contradiction Ė Paul versus Jesus

This first verse is Jesus speaking to his disciples. He is basically saying that the one thing that cannot be forgiven is blaspheming against the Holy Ghost, not the Father or the Son. He continues by saying that they run the risk of eternal damnation.

The second verse is from Acts and is written by the same author who wrote the Gospel of Luke. It is Paul addressing the congregation at Antioch. Paul is saying that through belief in Jesus the Christ, all things are forgivable. No exception is made. Was Paul not aware of Jesus' teachings? This is a blatant contradiction to Jesusí teaching. This is just one situation when Paul is taking charge of the theology of Christianity.

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