but aren't there a lot of contradictions in the bible?

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Contradictions are NOT the same things as Interpretation Issues...

One particularly favorite game of a skeptic is to find alleged discrepancies within the Bible, under the assumption that the existence of these discrepancies invalidate the claim of Divine inspiration - after all, if the Bible were truly inspired, then it would be perfect and have no contradictions or discrepancies - right?  In addition to this game, the issue can be of serious importance to a seeker who sees the difficulties, perceives intellectual issues and needs resolution in order to continue serious contemplation of Christianity.  It can be a significant stumbling block when not properly understood. 

Causes of the Perception of Discrepancy - All of the seeming contradictions can, when properly analyzed and understood and not just taken 'at the surface', become resolved.  Most are examples of mistaken assumptions by the reader, or of insufficient knowledge about ancient linguistic syntax or cultural interpretation, or simply a misunderstood perspective of the writers intent. 

The following are examples of some of these most common types of misunderstandings, and their resolutions:

Perceived Contradiction

Reference

Reference

Resolution

Judas' Death

So Judas threw the money into the temple and left.  Then he went away and hanged himself.  Matthew 27:5

With the reward he got for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out....they called that field...the field of blood.  Acts 1:18,19b,d

Both can be true, and not contradictory.  Judas may have hung himself alone, and then fallen headlong onto the field, etc.  One reference can simply be telling more details of the story than another.  An example of the requirement of a proper perspective for interpretation.

Jesus' Period Of Death

For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heard of the earth.  Matthew 12:40

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week...he has risen.  Matthew 28:1a,6b

In Jewish custom, any part of a day is considered part of a full day.  We see this confirmed in Esther chapters 4&5, where 'on the third day' is equivalent to 'after three days'.  And, even now in Jewish custom, the new 'day' begins at sundown of the previous day.    An example of the requirement for cultural understanding for proper interpretation.

Jesus Curses The Fig Tree

He said to it, 'May you never bear fruit again!'  Immediately the tree withered.  Matthew 21:19

Then He said to the tree, 'May no one ever eat fruit from you again.'  In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots.  Mark 11:14,20

Clearly a matter of timing.  The issue is in the implications however.  In Matthew, we assume that the object lesson on faith happened immediately afterwards, but we are not told this directly.  Mark may be more descriptive in the chronology of events, while Matthew was describing the event in whole, with breaks in time eliminated to round out the point.  An example of the requirement for proper syntax (structure) understanding for correct interpretation.


We can clearly see that things that appear at first glance to be difficulties, are not, yet need to be properly understood.  One minor lesson from this is that the Bible is to be studied, not 'glanced'.  When you come across a perceived difficulty, don't just simply write the Bible off as errant and therefore not inspired - delve into the facts of the context and pursue proper understanding.  In other words, give the Bible the benefit of the doubt!

Finally, when one considers the fact that the Bible has survived incredible persecution (from the abolition of Rome in A.D. 303 where scores of Christians were killed, and a massive 'book burning' of all Bibles that could be found occurred - yet just 10 short years after this Christianity was accepted as the 'official' religion of the Roman Empire, to Voltaire and Thomas Paine's vain predictions in the 18th century that the Bible will soon be forgotten) is evidence of seemingly supernatural intervention.  

Clearly, these supposed 'contradictions' and 'difficulties' have been worked through for a VAST amount of people for thousands of years.  The Bible is clearly meant to be taken seriously.