A List of Biblical Contradictions (1992)
[Editor's note: Not everyone will agree that all of the listed "contradictions" are, in fact, contradictions. It is therefore up to the reader to use his/her own intelligence and decide for himself/herself what s/he can and will accept as a contradiction. In other words, you need not agree with what Meritt sees as a problem or contradiction. It should be kept in mind, however, that a perfect, omnipotent, and omniscient god would reasonably be expected to have done a better job of it than the Bible had such a god inspired a book. In any case, lists such as this can be useful in serving as a springboard for further study. For more, see also: Biblical Errancy and Biblical Criticism.]
All of my statements, past, present and future express solely my opinions and/or beliefs and do not in any way represent those of any of my employer's unless such is specifically stated in the content of the text. (Jim Merrit)
Table of Contents
The Bible is riddled with repetitions and contradictions, things that the Bible bangers would be quick to point out in anything that they want to criticize. For instance, Genesis 1 and 2 disagree about the order in which things are created, and how satisfied God is about the results of his labors. The flood story is really two interwoven stories that contradict each other on how many of each kind of animal are to be brought into the Ark--is it one pair each or seven pairs each of the "clean" ones? The Gospel of John disagrees with the other three Gospels on the activities of Jesus Christ (how long had he stayed in Jerusalem--a couple of days or a whole year?) and all four Gospels contradict each other on the details of Jesus Christ's last moments and resurrection. The Gospels of Matthew and Luke contradict each other on the genealogy of Jesus Christ's father; though both agree that Joseph was not his real father. Repetitions and contradictions are understandable for a hodgepodge collection of documents, but not for some carefully constructed treatise, reflecting a well-thought-out plan.
Of the various methods I've seen to "explain" these:
1. "That is to be taken metaphorically." In other words, what is written is not what is meant. I find this entertaining, especially for those who decide what ISN'T to be taken as other than the absolute WORD OF GOD--which just happens to agree with the particular thing they happen to want...
2. "There was more there than...." This is used when one verse says "there was a" and another says "there was b," so they decide there was "a" AND "b"--which is said nowhere. This makes them happy, since it doesn't say there WASN'T "a+b." But it doesn't say there was "a+b+little green martians." This is often the same crowd that insists theirs is the ONLY possible interpretation (i.e., only "a") and the only way. I find it entertaining they they don't mind adding to verses.
3. "It has to be understood in context." I find this amusing because it comes from the same crowd that likes to push likewise extracted verses that support their particular view. Often it is just one of the verses in the contradictory set which is supposed to be taken as THE TRUTH when, if you add more to it, it suddenly becomes "out of context." How many of you have gotten JUST John 3:16 (taken out of all context) thrown at you?
4. "There was just a copying/writing error." This is sometimes called a "transcription error," as in where one number was meant and an incorrect one was copied down. Or what was "quoted" wasn't really what was said, but just what the author thought was said. And that's right--I'm not disagreeing with events, I'm disagreeing with what is WRITTEN. Which is apparently agreed that it is incorrect. This is an amusing misdirection to the problem that the Bible itself is wrong.
5. "That is a miracle." Naturally. That is why it is stated as fact.
6. "God works in mysterious ways." A useful dodge when the speaker doesn't understand the conflict between what the Bible SAYS and what they WISH it said.
PSA 145:9 The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.
JER 13:14 And I will dash them one against another, even the fathers and the sons together, saith the LORD: I will not pity, nor spare, nor have mercy, but destroy them.
[Editor's note: Some readers have raised an objection to this alleged contradiction. They point out that PSA 145:20 states that The Lord keeps all who love Him, but that He will destroy the wicked. In other words, some see no contradiction between "The Lord is good to all" and JER 13:14. Others contend, however, that even if the Lord destroys the wicked he could do so with compassion, pity, and mercy. Further, there are biblical examples that indicate that the Lord is not necessarily "good" or merciful--even to those who are not wicked. One such example is Job. As one reader points out, "If Psalm 145:9 was not a contradiction of Psalm 145:20 or Jeremiah 13:14, it would read something like this: "The LORD is good to all, except the wicked: and his tender mercies are over all his works, except when He is punishing the wicked." In any case, the idea that the Lord is good and merciful is contradicted by countless examples in the Bible where God orders the destruction of infants, personally kills David's infant child, etc.]
EXO 15:3 The LORD is a man of war: the LORD is his name.
ROM 15:33 Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.
MAT 1:16 And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.
LUK 3:23 And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli.
MAT 28:1 In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.
MAR 16:1 And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him.
JOH 20:1 The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.
JOH 10:30 I and my Father are one.
JOH 14:28 Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I.
GEN 1:25 And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
GEN 2:18 And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.
1KI 4:26 And Solomon had forty thousand stalls of horses for his chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen.
2CH 9:25 And Solomon had four thousand stalls for horses and chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen; whom he bestowed in the chariot cities, and with the king at Jerusalem.
PRO 4:7 Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.
ECC 1:18 For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.
1CO 1:19: "For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent."
ACT 2:30 Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne;
MAT 1:18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.
ISA 14:21 Prepare slaughter for his children for the iniquity of their fathers; that they do not rise, nor possess the land, nor fill the face of the world with cities.
DEU 24:16 The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin.
LEV 11:6 And the hare, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you.
"Gerah," the term which appears in the MT means (chewed) cud, and also perhaps grain, or berry (also a 20th of a sheckel, but I think that we can agree that that is irrelevant here). It does *not* mean dung, and there is a perfectly adequate Hebrew word for that, which could have been used. Furthermore, the phrase translated "chew the cud" in the KJV is more exactly "bring up the cud." Rabbits do not bring up anything; they let it go all the way through, then eat it again. The description given in Leviticus is inaccurate, and that's that. Rabbits do eat their own dung; they do not bring anything up and chew on it.
GEN 1:20 And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.
GEN 2:19 And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.
GEN 30:39 And the flocks conceived before the rods, and brought forth cattle ringstraked, speckled, and spotted.
ISA 40:22 It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in:
MAT 4:8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;
Astronomical bodies are spherical, and you cannot see the entire exterior surface from anyplace. The kingdoms of Egypt, China, Greece, Crete, sections of Asia Minor, India, Maya (in Mexico), Carthage (North Africa), Rome (Italy), Korea, and other settlements from these kingdoms of the world were widely distributed.
GEN 3:14 And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life:
JOB 26:7 He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing.
JOB 38:4 Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding.
JOB 26:11 The pillars of heaven tremble and are astonished at his reproof.
ECC 1:7 All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again.
JOB 38:22 Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow? or hast thou seen the treasures of the hail,
Storehouses are not part of the cycle
Here is the order in the first (Genesis 1), the Priestly tradition:
Day 1: Sky, Earth, light
Note that there are "days," "evenings," and "mornings" before the Sun was created. Here, the Deity is referred to as "Elohim," which is a plural, thus the literal translation, "the Gods." In this tale, the Gods seem satisfied with what they have done, saying after each step that "it was good."
The second one (Genesis 2), the Yahwist tradition, goes:
Earth and heavens (misty)
How orderly were things created?
How satisfied with creation was he?
NUM 12:3: "Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth."
NUM 31:14, 17, 18: "And Moses was wroth...And Moses said unto them, "Have ye saved all the women alive? ... Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman, ... But all the women children ... keep alive for yourselves."
PSA 92:12: "The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree."
ISA 57:1: "The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart."
ACT 1:18: "Now this man (Judas) purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out."
MAT 27:5-7: "And he (Judas) cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself. And the chief priests...bought with them the potter's field."
MAT 5:1,2: "And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying...."
MAT 27:46,50: "And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, eli, lama sabachthani?" that is to say, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" ...Jesus, when he cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost."
LUK 23:46: "And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, "Father, unto thy hands I commend my spirit:" and having said thus, he gave up the ghost."
JOH 19:30: "When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, "It is finished:" and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost."
II SAMUEL 24:13: So God came to David, and told him, and said unto him, shall SEVEN YEARS OF FAMINE come unto thee in thy land? or will thou flee three months before thine enemies, while they pursue. thee?
I CHRONICLES 21:11: SO God came to David, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Choose thee. Either THREE YEARS OF FAMINE or three months to be destroyed before thy foes, while that the sword of thine enemies overtaketh thee;
II SAMUEL 24: And again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah.
I CHRONICLES 21: And SATAN stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.
In two places in the New Testament the genealogy of Jesus son of Mary is mentioned. MAT 1:6-16 and LUK 3:23-31. Each gives the ancestors of Joseph the CLAIMED husband of Mary and Step father of Jesus. The first one starts from Abraham(verse 2) all the way down to Jesus. The second one from Jesus all the way back to Adam. The only common name to these two lists between David and Jesus is JOSEPH, How can this be true? and also How can Jesus have a genealogy when all Muslims and most Christians believe that Jesus had/has no father.
EXO 24:9,10; AMO 9:1; GEN 26:2; and JOH 14:9
God CANNOT be seen:
"I will not pity, nor spare, nor have mercy, but destroy." (JER 13:14) "Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not, but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling."
"The Lord is very pitiful and of tender mercy." (JAS 5:11)
"And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham." (GEN 22:1)
"Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God; for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man." (JAS 1:13)
"And he cast down the pieces of silver into the temple and departed, and went out and hanged himself." (MAT 27:5)
"And falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all of his bowels gushed out." (ACT 1:18)
"And Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven." (2KI 2:11)
"No man hath ascended up to heaven but he that came down from heaven, ... the Son of Man." (JOH 3:13)
Before the cock crow - MAT 26:34
Before the cock crow twice - MAR 14:30
MAR 14:72 And the second time the cock crew. And Peter called to mind the word that Jesus said unto him, Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. And when he thought thereon, he wept.
MAT 26:74 Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew.
LUK 22:60 And Peter said, Man, I know not what thou sayest. And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew.
JOH 13:38 Jesus answered him, Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow, still thou hast denied me thrice.
JOH 18:27 Peter then denied again: and immediately the cock crew.
MAT 5:3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
LUK 6:20 And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God.
1KI 8:46 If they sin against thee, (for there is no man that sinneth not,) and thou be angry with them, and deliver them to the enemy, so that they carry them away captives unto the land of the enemy, far or near;
2CH 6:36 If they sin against thee, (for there is no man which sinneth not,) and thou be angry with them, and deliver them over before their enemies, and they carry them away captives unto a land far off or near;
PRO 20:9 Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?
ECC 7:20 For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.
JO1 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
JO1 3:9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
ACT 1:18 Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out.
MAT 27:6 And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood.
MAT 27:9-10 (mentions Jeremy but no such verse in Jeremiah) is in Zechariah 11:12-13
GAL 6:2 Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
GAL 6:5 For every man shall bear his own burden.
PRO 26:4 Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him.
PRO 26:5 Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.
2SA 6:23 Therefore Michal the daughter of Saul had no child unto the day of her death.
2SA 21:8 But the king took the two sons of Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, whom she bare unto Saul, Armoni and Mephibosheth; and the five sons of Michal the daughter of Saul, whom she brought up for Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite:
2KI 24:8 Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he began to reign, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months. And his mother's name was Nehushta, the daughter of Elnathan of Jerusalem.
2CH 36:9 Jehoiachin was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned three months and ten days in Jerusalem: and he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD.
ACT 9:7 And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.
ACT 22:9 And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me.
MAR 1:12 And immediately the spirit driveth him into the wilderness.
JOH 1:35 Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples;
1 Corinthians 15:5 (12)
MAT 28:16 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.
1 Cor 2:15 "The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man's judgment:" (NIV)
1 Cor 4:5 "Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God."
Matt 5:16 "In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." (NIV)
Matt 6:3-4 "But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." (NIV)
MAT 12:30 He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.
MAR 9:40 For he that is not against us is on our part.
LUK 9:50 And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.
MAT 28:2 And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.
MAR 16:5 And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted.
LUK 24:4 And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments:
JOH 20:12 And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.
MAT 27:9 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value;
ZEC 11:11-13 (Note: There is nothing in Jeremiah remotely like this.)
MAT 24:34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.
MAR 13:30 Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done.
LUK 21:32 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled.
(See also 1TH 4:15-18)
1KI 9:23 550
2CH 11:20 Maachah the daughter of Absalom
2CH 13:2 Michaiah the daughter of Uriel
1KI 16:6-8 26th year of the reign of Asa
2CH 16:1 36th year of the reign of Asa
2KI 8:26 22
2CH 22:2 42
MAT 27:28 scarlet
JOH 19:2 purple
MAT 27:34 vinegar
MAR 15:23 wine with myrrh
Depends where you look; MAT 12:40 gives Jesus prophesying that he will spend "three days and three nights in the heart of the earth," and MAR 10:34 has "after three days (meta treis emeras) he will rise again." As far as I can see from a quick look, the prophecies have "after three days," but the post-Resurrection narratives have "on the third day."
The King James version of the Bible.
Self-Contradictions of the Bible by William Henry Burr (written in 1859 as a response to fundamentalism).
The X-Rated Bible: An Irreverent Survey of Sex in the Scriptures by Ben Edward Akerley
The Bible Handbook. (This is a compilation of several previous works by several authors, including W.P. Ball, G.W. Foote, and John Bowden. It's a collection of biblical contradictions, absurdities, atrocities, immoralities, indecencies, obscenities, unfulfilled prophecies and broken promises. This 372-page volume will give the atheist tons of scriptural ammunition for shooting down the flimsy arguments of the reality impaired.)
Classified Biblical Extracts Or, The Holy Scriptures Analyzed: Showing Its Contradictions, Absurdities And Immoralities by Robert Cooper (originally published in 1840).
DeHaan, M. R.
Thaddaeus, Joannes, fl. 1630.
Poole, Matthew, 1624-1679.
For more, see also: Biblical Errancy and Biblical Criticism.
|Top of Page|