Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Alleged Contradictions in the Gospels by Tim McGrew

In this lecture, entitled Alleged Contradictions in the Gospels, Dr. Timothy McGrew explores and answers 7 alleged contradictions between the Gospels. This is about 60 minutes of content followed by fifteen minutes of Q&A. PowerPoint file is here. Handout PDF here. Visit the Library of Historical Apologetics. This is part 5a of the series—part 1 here; part 2 here; part 3 here, part 4a here, part 4b herepart 6 here.

Full MP3 Audio here. (1hr 12min)
Video on YouTube here.


Anonymous said...


I believe this is part 5a of the series, not 4b as indicated.

Anonymous said...

This is cool, but I sometimes find it really difficult to believe the Gospels for the simple fact that there are so many problems.

Edwardtbabinski said...

Labeling all contradictory passages as "apparent" is to assume you already know that no contradictions exist.

In fact apparent contradictions are the worst kind because they appear plainly in the text for all to read. It's the harmonizations that are not as visibly apparent as the contradictions.

Furthermore, explanations that appear to harmonize contradictions are not inerrant themselves. There are no inerrant harmonizations. Thus the questions remain.

Speaking of "a tomb cut out of stone" as McGrew does, the biblical scholar Larry Hurtado in “How On Earth Did Jesus Become A God?” explains how the “tomb hewn out of a rock” in the Gospel of Mark could be a “midrash” on the Greek version of Isaiah 22:16.
see video at 48:37

Josephus' genealogy only goes back to his great-grand father.
see video at 36:12


Edward T. Babinski,

I always taught that the word "apparent" in connection to with the Bible and alleged contradictions meant they appear to be contradictions regardless of whether they actually are or not. Therefore, the use of "apparent" in the phrase "apparent Bible contradictions" is the neutral term. As opposed
just calling it "Bible contradictions" which far from being neutral, actually implies they are real contradictions. Hence, the use of the word "apparent" is LESS biased (for either side), than if not used.

Definition of "apparent" From
1 : open to view : visible
: clear or manifest to the understanding
: appearing as actual to the eye or mind
: having an indefeasible right to succeed to a title or estate
: manifest to the senses or mind as real or true on the basis of evidence that may or may not be factually valid


taught = thought

Edwardtbabinski said...

Dear Annoyed Pinoy,

I was speaking about the emphasis given to the word "apparent" and "alleged" by inerrantists, who write books and encyclopedias about "Apparent/Alleged Contradictions," and then claim they have harmonized them all away, and there's "nothing more to see here."

But none of their harmonizations is inerrant. So the questions, difficulties, and problems, remain.

The fact that contradictions are clearly apparent, not "merely apparent," while harmonizations are not as clearly apparent but something lying outside the text itself, has never boded well for the claims of "inerrancy" made by conservative Evangelicals.

Edwardtbabinski said...

Speaking of contradictions, the ones that bothered C. S. Lewis the most were the ethically contradictory depictions of Yahweh in various places in the Bible, since Yahweh's reactions are all over the place from instant death without a chance of repentance to utter destruction of men, women and children, to loving one's enemies. C. S. Lewis blames the Bible's authors for inserting such morally contradictory views of God into the Bible due to feelings of revenge and such:

To John Beversluis, July 3, 1963 (the year of C. S. Lewis' death): "The real danger is of coming to believe such dreadful things about Him. The conclusion I dread is not 'so there's no God after all,' but, 'So this is what God is really like. Deceive yourself no longer.'"[3] Only four months before his death, Lewis wrote in a letter to an American philosopher that there were dangers in judging God by moral standards. However, he maintained that "believing in a God whom we cannot but regard as evil, and then, in mere terrified flattery calling Him 'good' and worshipping Him, is still greater danger."[4]

Lewis was responding specifically to the question of Joshua's slaughter of the Canaanites by divine decree and Peter's striking Ananias and Sapphira dead.

Knowing that the evangelical doctrine of the Bible's infallibility required him to approve of "the atrocities (and treacheries) of Joshua," Lewis made this surprising concession: "The ultimate question is whether the doctrine of the goodness of God or that of the inerrancy of Scriptures is to prevail when they conflict. I think the doctrine of the goodness of God is the more certain of the two indeed, only that doctrine renders this worship of Him obligatory or even permissible." [5]

"To this some will reply 'ah, but we are fallen and don't recognize good when we see it.' But God Himself does not say that we are as fallen at all that. He constantly, in Scripture, appeals to our conscience: 'Why do ye not of yourselves judge what is right?' -- 'What fault hath my people found in me?' And so on. Socrates' answer to Euthyphro is used in Christian form by Hooker. Things are not good because God commands them; God commands certain things because he sees them to be good. (In other words, the Divine Will is the obedient servant to the Divine Reason.) The opposite view (Ockham's, Paley's) leads to an absurdity. If 'good' means 'what God wills' then to say 'God is good' can mean only 'God wills what he wills.' Which is equally true of you or me or Judas or Satan."[6]

To Dom Bede Griffiths, Dec. 20, 1961: "Even more disturbing as you say, is the ghastly record of Christian persecution. It had begun in Our Lord's time - 'Ye know not what spirit ye are of' (John of all people!)[7] I think we must fully face the fact that when Christianity does not make a man very much better, it makes him very much worse...Conversion may make of one who was, if no better, no worse than an animal, something like a devil."[8]

Neil Shenvi said...

Is there a post which contains direct links to all the mp3s in this series? It's a minor issue, but this page opens each link in a new tab and it's not clear if there are any newer talks.
And perhaps you could add him to your 'Ultimate Apologetics mp3 Audio' page?

Brian said...


I'll try to generate a master list this week.

Tim said...

Ed Babinski writes:

"Speaking of 'a tomb cut out of stone' as McGrew does, the biblical scholar Larry Hurtado in 'How On Earth Did Jesus Become A God?' explains how the 'tomb hewn out of a rock' in the Gospel of Mark could be a “midrash” on the Greek version of Isaiah 22:16.

Ed is mistaken here; he is confusing Larry Hurtado with Karel Hanhart.

"Josephus' genealogy only goes back to his great-grand father."

This is irrelevant: the testimony of Josephus is that the records held good all the way back to the founding of the twenty-four courses. See what he says in full in his Life 1:

"The family from which I am derived is not an ignoble one, but hath descended all along from the priests; and as nobility among several people is of a different origin, so with us to be of the sacerdotal dignity, is an indication of the splendor of a family. Now, I am not only sprung from a sacerdotal family in general, but from the first of the twenty-four courses; ..."

For the twenty-four courses, see Josephus's discussion in Antiquities 7.14.7.

See also what he says in Against Apion 1.7:

"For our forefathers did not only appoint the best of these priests, and those that attended upon the Divine worship, for that design from the beginning, but made provision that the stock of the priests should continue unmixed and pure; for he who is partaker of the priesthood must propagate of a wife of the same nation, without having any regard to money, or any other dignities; but he is to make a scrutiny, and take his wife's genealogy from the ancient tables, and procure many witnesses to it."

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