History of Truth, The Truth about God and Religions

Dr. Adel Elsaie

Source: History of Truth

6.5 Contradictions in the New Testament

The Genealogies of Jesus

The Last Words of Jesus

The Sign of Jonas

Is Jesus God?

The Death of Judas

When was Jesus crucified?

Jesus’ 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

Jesus’ Ascent

Did Paul's traveling companions see and hear correctly?

Theological Contradiction – 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: Jesus’ 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 Jesus’ genealogy according to Matthew 1:6-16, and according to Luke 3:23-31.

In Matthew, Joseph was the son of Jacob; in Luke, Joseph was the son of Heli.

In Matthew, Salatheil was the son of Jechonias; in Luke, Salatheil was the son of Neri.

In Matthew, Abiud was the son of Zorobabel; in Luke, Rhesa was the son of Zorobabel.

In Matthew, Jesus descended from Solomon son of David; in Luke, Jesus descended from Nathan son of David.

In Matthew, 27 names are mentioned between David and Jesus; in Luke, 42 names are mentioned between David and Jesus.

Christian apologetics explain, for example, the discrepancy about Joseph’ 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:

In Matthew 27:46 Jesus’ last words were "Eli, Eli, lama sabachtani?" My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? (Mark 15:34) though it is Eloi instead of Eli

In Luke 23:46 Jesus cried: "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit."

In John 19:30, Jesus tasted the vinegar. Then he said,"It is finished." Jesus bowed his head and died.

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:

He said that. Then, why did the Son of God think that his father abandoned him? Jesus told his disciples that he would die and rise from the dead in three days. He knew that he would die and be resurrected, so how can that be called abandonment? If he is the Son of God that came to save humanity with his blood, so how can that can be called abandonment? If he knew his mission in life, so how can that be called abandonment? This statement simply contradicts the entire New Testament. Many Christian scholars have the same trouble justifying this statement.

He did not say that. This means that Matthew and Mark were not accurate, and God did not inspire the Gospels, because God would not allow any inaccuracies.

The man on the cross was not Jesus! This may seem at first sight that it is an unreasonable idea. But if we know that the same sentence, word for word, exists in the songs of David, Psalm 22.1, one may be tempted to suggest that the man on the Cross was a Jew asking God for help from his Old Testament.

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 mother’s 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 Jonas’ 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 whale’s 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 John 10:30, Jesus said, "I and my father are one."

In John 14:28, Jesus said, "I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I."

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

In Matthew 27:5 Judas hanged himself.

In Acts 1:18, Luke wrote that Judas fell on his head, his body broke open, and all his intestines poured out.

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?

In Mark 15:25, "And it was the third hour, and they crucified him."

In John 19:14-16 "And it was the preparation of the Passover, and about the sixth hour: and he (Pilate) saith unto the Jews, Behold your King! But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar. Then delivered he him over therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away."

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.

Jesus’ Apostles

In Matthew 10:2-4, "Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him. "

In Luke 6:13-16, "And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles: Simon, (whom he named Peter,) and Andrew his brother, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew, Matthew and Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called Zelotes, And Judas the brother of James, and Judas Iscariot, which also was the traitor."

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

Matthew 9:9 "And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith unto him, follow me. And he arose, and followed him. "

Mark 2:14 "And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the receipt of custom, and said unto him, follow me. And he arose and followed him."

Luke 5:27 "And after these things he went forth, and saw a publican, named Levi, sitting at the receipt of custom, and he said unto him, follow me."

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

In Matthew 26:47-50, Judas planned to do something to show the people, who came to arrest Jesus, which man was Jesus. Judas said "The man I kiss is Jesus. Arrest him."

In John 18:1-8, Judas led a group of soldiers to the garden. Judas also brought some guards from the leading priests and the Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns, and weapons. Jesus knew everything that would happen to him. Jesus went out and asked, "Whom seek ye? They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth." Jesus said, "I am he"

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

The Gentile woman

In Matthew 15:21, a Canaanite woman asked Jesus to help her daughter who had a demon inside her.

In Mark 7:26, the woman was not a Jew. She was Greek, born in Phoenicia, an area in Syria.

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

John places the Last Supper "before the Passover celebration."

All other three Gospels place the Last Supper during the celebration.

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

What did Jesus drink on the cross?  

Matthew 27:34, "They gave him (Jesus) vinegar to drink, mingled with gall."

Mark 15:23 "And they gave him (Jesus) to drink, wine mingled with myrrh."

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 answer according to Matthew (26:64): "Thou hast said."

The answer according to Mark (14:62): "I am."

The answer according to Luke (22:70): "Ye say that I am."

John gives more detailed information. Jesus defended himself before the high priests: "I ever taught in the synagogue and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing." (John 18:20)

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?  

Mark 15:21, "And they compel one Simon a Cyrennian, who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus to bear his cross."

John 19:16-17, "Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus and led him away. And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha"

In Mark’s version, the soldiers forced Simon to carry the cross. In John’s 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

Matthew makes the whole scene very dramatic (28:1-9). Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James went to the tomb, which was closed. At that time there was a strong earthquake. An angle of the Lord came from the sky, his face like lightening and his robe as white as snow, moved the stone, sat on it, and spoke to the women. He showed them the place where Jesus’ body was and said that he had risen, and that they were to inform the disciples quickly. The fact that they also met Jesus on the way is no longer connected to the visit to the tomb.

Mark (16:1-8) says that Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices to anoint Jesus. On the way they were wondering how they would move the stone from the tomb, when they saw that it was already opened and that a young man in a long white garment sat inside. He told them not to be afraid, for Jesus, whom they sought, had risen from the dead. They were to tell the disciples. But the women fled in panic; "neither said they anything to any man, for they were afraid." "Neither" implies two women, but Mark stated the names of three women!

Luke (24:1-6) only mentions "women" (not mentioned by name), who went to the open tomb and found it empty. While they stood there sadly, two men in "shining garments" said to them: "Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen."

John (20:1-2) describes things differently. According to him, only Mary Magdalene went to the grave early on the first day of the week and found the stone already removed. In a panic, she ran to Simon Peter and the other apostles, telling them that "they" had taken Jesus away to an unknown place.

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 God’s 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 apostles’ 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 Jesus’ statement that he would die and rise again, yet at the end they knew nothing about it?

Jesus’ Ascent

The account of Jesus’ ascent into heaven is also contradictory:

According to Matthew (28:16-17), Jesus had summoned the disciples to a mountain near Galilee for an appearance. When they saw him, they worshipped him, "but some doubted." Matthew has nothing further to say about the ascent into heaven.

Mark (16:19) has one sentence to cover this important event: "So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God." It is as simple as that.

Luke (24:50-51) makes Jesus himself lead the disciples "out as far as Bethany." While he was blessing them, "he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven."

John (21) has nothing to say about the ascension into heaven!

The most important event in Jesus’ life, as recorded by "God’s 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?

Acts 9:7, "And the men which journeyed with him [Paul] stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man."

Acts 22:9, "And they that were with me [Paul] saw indeed the light and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me."

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 – Paul versus Jesus

Mark 3:29, "He that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness."

Acts 13:39, "And by him that believe are justified from all things."

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 Jesus’ teaching. This is just one situation when Paul is taking charge of the theology of Christianity.

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