The internal consistency of the Bible concerns the coherence and textual integrity of the Bible. The theme of tahrif was first explored in the writings of Ibn Hazm (10th century), who rejected claims of Mosaic authorship and posited that Ezra was the author of the Torah. As Shai Cherry notes, "Since one of the Rabbinic assumptions is that the Torah is perfect, at a minimum one would expect there to be no grammatical mistakes. But the Canaanites were in the land when Moses was alive. The problem of there being possible contradictions in the Gospels is of importance to Christians. K. Aland and B. Aland, "The Text Of The New Testament: An Introduction To The Critical Editions & To The Theory & Practice Of Modern Text Criticism", Wm. Another alleged Bible contradiction is the account of Peter’s triple denial of Christ in conjunction with the crowing of a rooster. A wide variety of inconsistencies have been suggested both within the New Testament and between the New Testament and the Hebrew scriptures. " Harmonization of the two accounts has been tried since ancient times and occasionally still today. You are listening to Hebrew Voices with Nehemia Gordon. In this series, we’ve touched on five out of many proofs: 1. archaeology, 2. the Dead Sea Scrolls, 3. secular history, 4. fulfilled prophecy and 5. the consistency of the text itself. Matthew, Luke and John quote Jesus as saying that Peter would deny Him three times before the rooster crowed. These fall into a number of broad categories. "More Than One Bible." "Instead we refer them to the different qualities of God.". What about the Bible itself? " Rabin also quotes the 11th-century rabbi, Rashi, as saying that Moses could not have written, in Deuteronomy 34:5, "And Moses died there", but it must have been written by Joshua. B. Barry Levy notes that the 16th-century Rabbi Ibn Zimra recounted "how he restored the scrolls to their original state" and noted "the importance of having textual consistency in the scrolls, because criticisms of how Jews preserved and transmitted the Torah text contained accusations that they willfully changed it.  Pastor Erwin Lutzer argues that the Bible is consistent in asserting that it is the word of God, and that this is a reason for accepting that it is of divine origin: "The sixty-six books speak with a consistent voice that these are the words of God". According to the 12th-century Jewish scholar Maimonides, "The Torah that we have today is the one dictated to Moses by God". He asserts that such hypotheses are false, and that the contradictory portrayals of creation are not because they were written by different authors. For more recent images, please visit the British Museum.  The Epistle of James, in contrast, claims that Christians are to obey the "whole law", that "a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone", and that "faith without works is dead".  He wrote that because there are those who would "rob [the Evangelists] of their credit as veracious historians", "we must prove that the writers in question do not stand in any antagonism to each other. , In the "Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties", Archer examines two verses in Acts describing the Conversion of Paul which are sometimes perceived as a contradiction:, Archer claims that the original Greek shows "there is no real contradiction between these two statements" because "Greek makes a distinction between hearing a sound as a noise (in which case the object to the verb "to hear" takes the genitive case) and hearing a voice as a thought-conveying message (in which case it takes the accusative)" and "in neither account is it stated that his companions ever heard that Voice in the accusative case". Codex Alexandrinus is a fifth century manuscript of the Greek Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Clementine Epistles on parchment.  However, modern scholars tend to find these unconvincing, pointing out, for instance, the absence of any indication of suicide in the story in Acts.. Every so often a Torah has to be returned to the ark due to an error discovered while being read in public. 36:9 vs. 2 Kings 24:8), the details of Apostle Paul's itinerary (Acts 9, 11, 15,18:22, 21 vs. Galatians 1:18, 2:1).  However, the Two-source Hypothesis is not without its problems. The total number of ancient manuscripts supporting the New Testament amounts to 24,970+. The former, followed by the Southern Baptist Convention and by evangelical Christians in the United States in general, holds that the original biblical manuscripts have "God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter", so that "all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy": Gleason Archer, whose reconciliation of difficult texts echoes that of Osiander, allow that textual scholarship and an understanding of the historical context of individual passages is necessary to establish true, original biblical text, but that that text, once discovered, is without error. Bart D. Ehrman, Jesus, Interrupted, Harper Collins Publishing (2009), p. 74, Bart D. Ehrman, "Jesus, Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium" (1999), p. 32-35. And in 1860, William Henry Burr produced a list of 144 self-contradictions in the Bible.. But these were not always the languages spoken by the primary characters. However, the New Testament has faced criticism like no other time over the 50-70-years. The science … No graven image was to be made, yet Moses was directed to fashion a bronze serpent. The study of biblical manuscripts is important because handwritten copies of books can contain errors. , The Torah is viewed by some as the literal word of God, dictated to Moses. , Furthermore, Shnayer Leiman writes that, "Errors have crept into the best Torah scrolls. In I Corinthians: "Inconsistencies have been found within later chapters, for instance between an apparently softer stance on sacrificial food in 8:1-13 and 10:22-11:1, and a harder line in 10:1-22.  However, Geza Vermes points out that Luke makes no mention of Mary, and questions what purpose a maternal genealogy would serve in a Jewish setting. It was discovered in 1934. The New Testament has been preserved in three major manuscript traditions: the 4th century CE Alexandrian text-type; the Western text-type, also very early but prone to paraphrase and other corruptions; and the Byzantine text-type, which makes up above 80% of all manuscripts, the majority comparatively very late in the tradition. On its website Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry rates the agreement among the copies of Homer’s Iliad as 95 percent. Within Christianity, themes such as the nature of God (trinitarianism and nontrinitarianism), nature of Jesus, views of the old covenant, original sin, predestination, ordination of women, hell, biblical prophecies, etc. , Most Christian writers, however, while agreeing that inaccuracies and inconsistencies occur, argue that these do not necessarily make the Bible false and that it is no longer desirable to try to harmonize all four Gospels into "one consistent account", because "we have learned that each of the four Gospels has its own ... unique image of Jesus". All of the books of the New Testament were written within a lifetime of the death of Jesus of Nazareth. " Also, the letter "seems to place a total ban on women's speech in church, which is strangely inconsistent with Paul's permission in 11:2-16 that (veiled) women could pray and prophesy. Since the quotation, which Matthew (27:9) attributes to the prophet Jeremiah, actually comes from Zechariah (11:12f), it is not surprising that some scribes sought to mend the error either by substituting the correct name or by omitting the name altogether. Later scribes, sensing this involves a difficulty replaced "As it is written in Isaiah the Prophet" with the general statement "As it is written in the prophets". Modern New Testament scholarship tends to view these not as separate statements, but rather one statement that has either been preserved in two different forms, or has been altered by the Gospel writers to present a point of view that expresses the needs of the Christian community at the time. The very idea of a closed canon did not exist prior to the 2nd century, when it became necessary to counter movements such as Marcionism. The record is then checked for consistency of information, and the claims are analyzed as if it were a legal case, looking for credible testimony with cross-examination. If so, it contradicts Ezekiel 44:11, where it is done by the Levites, and 2 Chr 29:22, 24 where done by the priests.. Used by permission. In Acts 1:18, on the other hand, Judas, having not committed suicide out of guilt, used the bribe money to buy the field himself, and his death in the field is attributed thus: "falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his intestines gushed out. R. Alan Culpepper, John, the Son of Zebedee: The Life of a Legend, Continuum International Publishing (2000), pp. The monastery agreed to present the manuscript to the tsar of Russia as protector of the Greek Church. The differences are mainly as a result of attempts to harmonize biblical statements that the biblical law is eternal (Exodus 31:16–17, 12:14–17) with New Testament statements that suggest that it does not now apply at all, or at least does not fully apply. " However, the modern writer Joshua Golding states that even though it contains inconsistencies, this "does not imply that God did not reveal the Torah". Acts 7:15–16 is another troublesome part: So Jacob went down into Egypt, and died, he, and our fathers, And were carried over into Sychem, and laid in the sepulchre that Abraham bought for a sum of money of the sons of Emmor the father of Sychem. As Francis Watson wrote: "The problem cannot be resolved by observing that the alleged contradictions are trivial ... [They] are far from trivial [and] there are very many of them, and they often relate to issues at the heart of the Christian faith and life. For example, both Ezra 2:1–65 and Nehemiah 7:6–67 present the list of Jewish families that "came up out of the captivity of the exiles ... and returned to Jerusalem and Judah".  More critical scholars see the nativity stories either as completely fictional accounts, or at least constructed from traditions that predate the Gospels. 43725. In the Antithesis, Marcion set out in detail and discussed at length the contradictions between the Old Testament and New Testament. In Mark 13:2 it is reported as a direct statement: "And Jesus answering said unto him, Seest thou these great buildings? This elite status among New Testament manuscripts only began in the 20th century. , For many believers, the internal consistency of the Jewish and Christian scriptures is important because they feel that any inconsistencies or contradictions could challenge belief in truth of their contents and the view that they are of divine origin. Exciting manuscript research. believe that Paul and James do not contradict each other but speak about different questions. Thank you for supporting Nehemia Gordon's Makor Hebrew Foundation. The fact is that most of the alleged contradictions in the Bible are easily resolved, and those that remain may have more than one logical explanation. Verse 8, in the Hebrew text, even says that the "entire Torah" is to be taught today. , On this point, Ronald Witherup gives the example of Genesis 1-2, which most scholars view as two separate stories of creation written by different authors in different time periods. One Christian view is that Jesus mediates a New Covenant relationship between God and his followers and abolished the Mosaic Laws, according to the New Testament (Hebrews 10:15–18; Gal 3:23–25; 2 Cor 3:7–17; Eph 2:15; Heb 8:13, Rom 7:6 etc.) “If the critics of the Bible dismiss the New Testament as reliable information, then they must also dismiss the reliability of the writings of Plato, Aristotle, Caesar, Homer” (CARM). Nevertheless, the idea of a complete and clear-cut canon of the New Testament existing from Apostolic times has no foundation in history, and the canon of the New Testament, like that of the Old, is the result of a historical process.  Similarly, Catholic writers have argued that "If we believe the Scriptures are divinely inspired, we must also believe them to be internally coherent". For example, Elisha had children eaten by bears; Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me". Watchtower admits no known New Testament fragments contain the Divine Name. At John 1:28, Origen altered Bethany to Bethabara in order to remove what he regarded as a geographical difficulty, and this reading is extant today in MSS. Scholars regard the Alexandrian text-type as generally more authoritative when treating textual variations. Jesus is then arrested that night, and early the next morning he is put on trial and quickly crucified. You must also allow for the possibility that the accounts are complementary before assuming they are contradictory. During this time the tex… Some distinctions seem motivated by (or reflect) actual philosophical differences between Judaism and Samaritanism. This claim merely equivocates with the word "differences" as though all "differences" are qualitatively the same. Mark 14 has Jesus and his disciples eating the Passover meal together. On the subject of the Jewish text, B. Barry Levy writes about the Torah that "the textual integrity of every biblical book should be extremely important to those interested in either the Hebrew Bible or classical Jewish thought".  A third version of the list exists in the apocryphal book 1 Esdras. Ibn Hazm's arguments had a major impact upon Muslim literature and scholars, and these and other polemical ideas were modified only slightly by some later authors. Each gives a genealogy of Jesus, but the names, and even the number of generations, differ between the two. 30:1-6). ", Of those who accept that there are inconsistencies, scholars such as Raymond Brown have examined contradictions in the Gospels, particularly in the infancy narratives of Christ. He argued that the falsification of the Torah could have taken place while there existed only one copy kept by the Aaronic priesthood of the Temple in Jerusalem. There is still lively discussion about which version is the more authentic, see also the Jesus Seminar. The grouping was first introduced by Caspar René Gregory, who assigned papyri texts the Blackletter character followed by a superscript number. Manuscript evidence for the New Testament1 There are presently 5,686 Greek manuscripts in existence for the New Testament. Unfortunately even this commitment and care could not guarantee a letter-perfect text". The verse places Jacob's burial in Shechem, contradicting verses in Genesis which place the patriarchs' tomb in Hebron. The question of internal consistency in the Bible also involves the attribution of authorship to its books. "It was not lawful to take into the Temple-treasury, for the purchase of sacred things, money that had been unlawfully gained. Christian History, issue 43, 1994. Many scholars understand the suffix “Yah” at the end to be derived from “Yahweh” or “YHWH” (Jehovah), though in an abbreviated form.This is why the NASB and ESV translate it “the fire of the LORD.” ", Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, 5.xiv, Catholic Encyclopedia: St. James the Less, James 2:21-24 and the justification of Abraham, p. 44, The canon of the New Testament: its origin, development, and significance, Witchcraft and divination in the Hebrew Bible, Development of the Christian biblical canon, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Internal_consistency_of_the_Bible&oldid=999158840, Articles with unsourced statements from November 2010, All articles with specifically marked weasel-worded phrases, Articles with specifically marked weasel-worded phrases from December 2013, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 8 January 2021, at 19:46. Mark records that the first crowing of the rooster occurred after Peter’s first denial, but the third denial occurred before the rooster crowed, which is exactly what we read in Matthew, Luke and John. For example, the documentary hypothesis asserts that repetitions and contradictions are the result of texts that have been woven together from diverse sources written by different authors, at different times. The study of these is central to both Jewish and Christian theologies, even if they differ in their approaches. , Randel Helms argues that the books of the Bible were written for and against different points of view—that the Bible's authors were often motivated to write because they wanted to challenge or correct those who had written before them. There are 643 known ancient copies of the Iliad, and the oldest dates from 400 B.C. Barton and Muddiman cite inconsistencies between the gospel writers about what happened at Christ's tomb.  The Westminster Confession of Faith (1646) asserts that the Bible's authority depends "wholly upon God (who is truth itself), the Author thereof; and therefore it is to be received, because it is the Word of God".. For example, Jesus and His disciples most likely spoke Aramaic the majority of the time, but the Gospels were preserved in Greek. The use of literary devices in the passage, as opposed to a real event. , Ibn al-Layth, Ibn Rabban, and Ibn Qutayba, found that there had been no corruption of the text but denounced as tahrif what they considered misleading interpretations of the text. This process has determined that the internal consistency of New Testament documents is about 99.5% textually pure. Actually, there is harmony between the two accounts without any contradiction. The oldest manuscript of the New Testament has been P52, a small fragment from John’s Gospel, dated to the first half of the second century. In the 18th century, Thomas Paine in The Age of Reason compiled many of the Bible's self-contradictions. Jim Franks is president of the Church of God, a Worldwide Association. Translation errors—different words chosen by different translators. have continued to be a matter of dispute among theologians and various denominations. We encourage you to download our free study guide Seven Keys to Better Bible Study. How Should a Christian Deal With the Coronavirus Pandemic? So which is it—once or twice? " In the 18th century, Thomas Paine in The Age of Reason compiled many of the Bible's self-contradictions. So far, this series of articles has focused on sources outside the Bible. First, the earliest substantial manuscripts of the New Testament come from the third century. (See more on this in our article “Who Wrote the Bible?”). J. Philip Hyatt, a professor of the Old Testament at Vanderbilt University from 1944-1972, identified some of the challenges to maintaining the accuracy of the biblical text across the millennia: “It should be obvious from this history of the text that a period of a thousand years or more elapsed between the completion of the latest book of the [Old Testament] and most of the [manuscripts] on which modern study is based. In some cases, seemingly trivial points of differences can actually have an enormous significance for the interpretation of a book or for the reconstruction of the history of Ancient Israel, how the world was created, why God allows suffering, or the religious significance of Jesus' death. Skeptics charge that Mark’s account contradicts the other Gospel accounts. Interestingly this is one event that appears in all four Gospels, all written at different times. Manuscripts also differ. The temple priests, unwilling to return the defiled money to the treasury, used it instead to buy a field known as the Potter's Field, as a plot in which to bury strangers. In the absence of a single authoritative list of Latin New Testament manu-scripts comparable to the Gregory-Aland Kurzgefasste Liste for Greek New Testament manuscripts, referencing is always an issue.3 In Part I, I have in general used the customary Latin names for … Fox, p. 28. Both friend and foe have challenged the reliability of our New Testament. Nonetheless, a full dogmatic articulation of the canon for Roman Catholicism was not made until the Council of Trent of 1546, as until then the authority of the Scriptures was not considered higher than that of Sacred Tradition, papal bulls, and ecumenical councils. The contents of canons have varied over time, books regarded as authoritative by some Christians at some points in history being excluded from the collections of later communities—this was the fate of the many apocryphal Gospels from the first few centuries of the Church (the Gospel of Thomas is an example); books long regarded as canonical in one branch of Christianity may be dropped by others on doctrinal grounds (the fate of the deuterocanonical books, canonical in the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Church but repudiated by the Protestants because they are not included in the Hebrew Bible and supported doctrines to which the Protestant reformers objected such as the intercession of saints, purgatory, prayers for the dead etc. The size of these biblical canons varies enormously, from the Samaritans, who consider the five books of the Torah alone to be authoritative, to the Ethiopian Bible, which contains all the books of all other churches plus such titles as the Book of Josephus and the Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians. The most natural interpretation of the Hebrew wording is that the slaughtering was done by the one making the offering rather than by the priest. , In none of the four Gospels does the text say that a particular book is written by the evangelist who is attributed as its author. There are also important differences between the Masoretic and Samaritan version of the Pentateuch in the readings of many sentences. This is stunning dishonesty, considering Watchtower teaches the most important word, God’s name, has disappeared without a trace. Being a Christian is more than acknowledging Scripture—it is living by Scripture. Archer, Gleason L., "Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties", p. 4. In spite of the number of authors and the volume of writing, the Bible, when it comes to internal agreement, exceeds what one could expect from any other ancient document. The Bible is the true Word of God! He argued that both are necessary and that "The cross of Christ makes both sayings true. The Scriptures", "Vatican II and the Truth of Sacred Scripture", https://books.google.com/books?id=4CGScYTomYsC&pg=PA194&lpg=PA194&dq=%2B%22markan+appendix%22&source=bl&ots=ex8JIDMwMD&sig=oCI_C1mXVSZYoz34sVlgRDaO__Q&hl=en&ei=3pq_St6aGYnSjAefnOU2&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2#v=onepage&q=%2B%22markan%20appendix%22&f=false, https://books.google.com/books?id=B2lfhy5lvlkC&pg=PA175&lpg=PA175&dq=%2B%22markan+appendix%22&source=bl&ots=vp5GVlmghC&sig=XN1KJCsBkTWO2Fot4SBhnpWoRkY&hl=en&ei=3pq_St6aGYnSjAefnOU2&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=5#v=onepage&q=%2B%22markan%20appendix%22&f=false, "Is there a Contradiction in the Genealogies of Luke and Matthew? Print subscriptions available in U.S., Canada and Europe, Article URL: https://lifehopeandtruth.com/bible/is-the-bible-true/proof-5-consistency/. It is only after we have listened to each in its individuality that we can hope to gain the full richness which comes from the 'stereoscopic' vision of Jesus as seen through four different pairs of eyes!".  A similar example from the Old Testament is the difference between the Septuagint and Masoretic descriptions of the battle of David and Goliath: the Septuagint version is shorter and avoids the narrative inconsistencies of the familiar Masoretic story, notably the famous incident of Saul asking who David is as though he does not know his own harpist and shield-bearer. J. Philip Hyatt, a professor of the Old Testament at Vanderbilt University from 1944-1972, identified some of the challenges to maintaining the accuracy of the biblical text across the millennia:“It should be obvious from this history of the text that a period of a thousand years or more elapsed between the completion of the latest book of the [Old Testament] and most of the [manuscripts] on which modern study is based. There is no contradiction among the four accounts. Marcion therefore rejected the entire Old Testament.. Barton states that "this is not the Bible that we have in fact got". This final article will focus on the internal evidence proving the consistency of Scripture. To date we have over 5800 Greek manuscripts of the New Testament, with an astounding 2.6 million pages of biblical… Leiman, SZ., Response to Rabbi Brewer, in Carmy, S. (ed), God as Communion By Patricia A. Far more than any other book of antiquity. The more prominent are identified and discussed below, with examples. Skeptics will dismiss the use of the Bible to prove its own legitimacy, but when combined with the previous four proofs, the fact that the Bible as a collection of ancient documents is consistent in its message is further proof that it is indeed true. Conversely, when James insists on works as necessary to justification, he has in view works that follow and validate salvation. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company (June 1995). In the 2nd century CE, Tatian produced a gospel text called Diatessaron by weaving together all four gospels into one. Learn more at NehemiasWall.com.. Nehemia: And that’s why I think these manuscripts of Hebrew Matthew are important, because they’re not just someone’s opinion.. They’re … , as has long been recognized, there remain a number of variations or inconsistencies of detail, which suggests that two or more accounts have been combined. 1 Chron. After all, shouldn't God be an inerrant grammarian?" Complete New Testament manuscripts from ninth to fifteenth centuries: 34 Earliest complete New Testament date: A.D. 340 Oldest fragment of the New Testament date: A.D. 117-138 Translations into Latin, Coptic, Syriac, Armenian, Georgian: A.D. 300-400. When we try to conceptualize how to reconstruct an original after 2000 years of copying, translating, and copying some more, the task appears impossible. `` differences '' as though all `` differences '' consistency of new testament manuscripts qualitatively the same book therefore rejected the entire Testament... Albert Barnes writes `` the Torah that we have in fact got '' Testament and Testaments... 400,000+ scribal errors in our article “ who wrote the Bible. [ 97 ] challenged the of! Superscript number many of the Bible that we have today is the of. Ed ), the study of inconsistencies have been preserved in Greek can directly. 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