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digitalimpression's avatar

What biblical contradictions have you not researched?

Asked by digitalimpression (9910points) November 23rd, 2011

I only ask because people bring up “contradictions” all the time, but many of them are easily explained with even marginally thorough research.

E.G. The following “contradiction” is listed on some random website..

Who is the father of Joseph?

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.

Heli was Joseph’s Father-In-Law .. so it’s not surprising to hear it worded in this way in Luke.. and yet it goes on the list.

Has anyone researched an alleged contradiction and found it to be legitimate?

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31 Answers

SavoirFaire's avatar

Contradictions seem to me the least of the Bible’s problems, but I think even the merely apparent contradictions—and I agree that many of the contradictions people claim to find in the Bible are merely apparent—get put on the list because it is odd that a book that is supposed to be divinely inspired is so poorly written. You’d think God would have had the foresight to avoid some of these problems.

Moreover, the fact that Christians have explanations for all of the supposed contradictions does not mean that all of those explanations are any good. Having an answer is not the same as having a good answer. Few people are satisfied with the standard explanations of why Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 disagree on the order in which things were created, for instance.

digitalimpression's avatar

@SavoirFaire I can find no contradiction between Genesis 1 and 2 with which to provide a “good” answer. Could you be more specific?

DominicX's avatar

Alright, I’ll bite.

Matthew 1:8–9

”...Jehoram the father of Uzziah, Uzziah the father of Jotham…”

1 Chronicles 3:11–12

“Jehoram his son, 
Ahaziah his son, 
Joash his son, 
Amaziah his son, 
Azariah his son, 
Jotham his son,”

Azariah is another name for Uzziah. So, in Matthew, Jehoram is the grandfather of Jotham, but in 1 Chronicles 3, Jehoram is the great-great-great-grandfather of Jotham. Matthew seems to have omitted this or forgotten this in order to substantiate his claim of the 14 generations between Abraham and David, between David and Jeconiah, and Jeconiah to Joseph.

A minor contradiction, but a contradiction nonetheless.

bkcunningham's avatar

@DominicX, in Matthew 1:8–9, Asa begat Josaphat; and Josaphat begat Joram; and Joram begat Ozias;

9And Ozias begat Joatham; and Joatham begat Achaz; and Achaz begat Ezekias;

I’m sorry, but I don’t see the names that have you confused.

DominicX's avatar

@bkcunningham Jehoram = Joram, Ozias = Uzziah = Azariah, Jotham = Joatham

Matthew lists Jehoram/Joram as being the grandfather of Jotham/Joatham. In 1 Chronicles 3, Jehoram is listed as the great-great-great-grandfather of Jotham.

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

I will play. This one has bothered me for awhile, 14 animals vs. 2 on Noah’s arc:

And of every living thing, of all flesh, you shall bring two of every kind into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female.(Genesis chapter 6 NRSV verse 19)

Take with you seven pairs of all clean animals, the male and its mate; and a pair of the animals that are not clean, the male and its mate; (Genesis 7 NRSV verse 2)

bkcunningham's avatar

Jehoram, King of Judah, is the son of Johoshaphat of Judah. His story is found in 2 Kings 8:16–23 and in 2 Chronicles chapter 21.

Jehoram, King of Isreal, was the son of Ahab and Jezebel. He was the ninth King of the northern kingdom in Isreal.

Two different Jehorams.

DominicX's avatar


Right, but Matthew 1 and 1 Chronicles 3 are both referring to the same Jehoram, the son of Jehoshaphat.

bkcunningham's avatar

@DominicX, darling, dear friend, I can’t find Jehoram or Jehoshaptat in the first chapter of Matthew. Are you using the New American Standard Bible by chance?

digitalimpression's avatar

@DominicX I’ll just concede that one. I get a headache just looking at those names. Even the bible says in Titus 3:9 “But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain.”

@Imadethisupwithnoforethought It seems to me that in Genesis 7 God was simply providing supplemental (further) instructions. It was necessary for Noah to bring these additional animals for sacrifice (at least to my understanding).

DominicX's avatar


It is there. And yes, I am using the NASB, but it shouldn’t make a difference. Jehoshaphat is called “Josaphat” in the KJV, Jehoram is called “Joram”, Jotham is called “Joatham”, Uzziah is called “Ozias”; they are all the same people, just different ways of transliterating the Hebrew.


Fair enough.

bkcunningham's avatar

If you use the King James Bible, the names aren’t there. Where did you find that Jehram is called Joram, and Jotham is called Joatham etc.

DominicX's avatar


Is this rendering of the KJV incorrect?

Does the Bible need to be completely flawless? So Matthew made a mistake; he was human. That doesn’t mean his words aren’t still inspired by God. And it doesn’t mean that because he left out a few names, the Bible is now meaningless. I guess I never saw it as important that the Bible be completely perfect; it was written by humans, therefore, it isn’t perfect. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t still inspired by God.

bkcunningham's avatar

I got a page that said no results found, @DominicX.

DominicX's avatar

How about this?

Sunny2's avatar

I have not researched any of them. They are all mysteries to me.

lillycoyote's avatar

Any contradiction I have encountered in the bible I have researched one way or another. I don’t have a ready list of the ones I have passed on. But I am still waiting for a good answer to this one.

Genesis 4:16–17

16 Then Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.

17 Cain had relations with his wife and she conceived, and gave birth to Enoch; and he built a city, and called the name of the city Enoch, after the name of his son.

Where the heck did Cain’s wife come from? What was going on in the land of Nod, that there was at least one available marriageable woman for Cain to wed?

I guess it’s not so much a contradiction, there are plenty of those, as much as a Biblical mystery. Gaps in the timeline, maybe.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@digitalimpression I already mentioned the contradiction between Genesis 1 and 2: they relate the order in which things were created differently. One says that God created man before the animals, for instance, while the other says that God created the animals before man.

@bkcunningham For scholarly purposes, the NASB is the best available.

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

@SavoirFaire I think we are in disagreement, I believe the NRSV is the gold standard.

lillycoyote's avatar

@Imadethisupwithnoforethought And this apostate is weighing in with her favorite translation, of the New Testament at least, and that is Andy Gaus’ The Unvarnished New Testament. I haven’t found anything I like that is comparable for the Old Testament, but I haven’t really been looking lately.

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

@lillycoyote if we are talking about a text we should read, The Book of J is the most educational text I have ever read on the Judaic texts…

lillycoyote's avatar

@Imadethisupwithnoforethought Thank you! I’ll have to pick that one up. It may be what I have been looking for, at least a start, in terms of an Old Testament translation. At least I’ll give it a read. Because, if we are talking about the Bible, we are talking about text… Even an old apostate like myself still finds the whole business fascinating and worthy of study for it’s own sake and worthy of study only to be better armed against my scripture quoting adversaries. Just kidding on that one. :-) I generally try to be respectful though I don’t always succeed.

And how else am I to research Biblical contradictions if I don’t have the best and most accurate translations at hand?

bkcunningham's avatar

@DominicX, I found one study manual that gives a good reason; but adds five additional names missing in the geneology of Jesus Christ in Matthew. They are Ahaziah, Joash, Amaziah, Jehaohaz, Johiachin and Zedekiah.

I’ll quote the reasoning for the first three omissions and you can read the last three yourself if you’re interested. Thank you for you contribution. It made me think and look and search out an answer in the Bible. That’s something I haven’t done in a long, long time. It felt good to pull down a few cobwebs in my brain. (I’ll ask my brother when I talk to him on the phone next week the questions asked here. He is a Bible scholar who doesn’t allow cobwebs.) Happy Thanksgiving.

Let us look into the first three names.

2 Ki 8:25 In the twelfth year of Joram son of Ahab king of Israel, Ahaziah son of Jehoram king of Judah began to reign.

2 Ki 8:26 Ahaziah was twenty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem one year. His mother’s name was Athaliah, a granddaughter of Omri king of Israel.

Athalia was a grand daughter of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel who needs no special introduction to the Bible readers. These two names will cause a shudder through the spine of every Jew, because of their evil acts. According to Deut 5:9 and Ex. 34:7 and Num 14:18 God will punish the sins of the fathers up to the fourth generation.

Deu 5:9 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me,

Thus the sins of Ahab and Jezebel was visited up to the fourth generation.

Ahab – Ahaziah – Joash – Amaziah – Uzziah

Deu 5:1 Moses summoned all Israel and said: Hear, O Israel, the decrees and laws I declare in your hearing today. Learn them and be sure to follow them.

Deu 5:2 The LORD our God made a covenant with us at Horeb. Deu 5:6 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

Deu 5:7 “You shall have no other gods before me.

Deu 5:8 “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.

Deu 5:9 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me,

Deu 5:10 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

Deu 5:11 “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

In Ex 34 we read

Exo 34:6 And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness,

Exo 34:7 maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation.”

Again in Numbers 14 we read this proclamation of the passing Lord before Moses:

Num 14:18 ‘The LORD is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation.’

Thus because of the great iniquities of Ahab and Jezebel, the punishment was carried over through Athalia in unabated form. In the eyes of God these four generations were counted unworthy of the throne of David.

digitalimpression's avatar

@lillycoyote I’ve thought about this one too. The bible often mentions that people had “so and so”, “so and so”, and sons and daughters. On top of that, the bible rarely mentions the birth of girls, so it’s not unlikely that there were lots of siblings out there for Cain to hook up with.

@SavoirFaire I re-read Genesis 1 and 2. They don’t appear to contradict to me at all.. In Genesis 2 the author appears to focus on day six, while in Genesis 1 they outline the overall order of creation. If you don’t wish to provide a more detailed question I suppose it’s a moot point.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Imadethisupwithnoforethought I do not personally object to the NRSV.

@digitalimpression So in your own question about researching Bible contradictions, you aren’t willing to take more than a casual glance at the text while researching a Bible contradiction? Very well. Here is what a close reading of the text reveals:

Genesis 1

First day: God creates the heavens and the earth (i.e., the universe), then light (and thus night and day).
Second day: God separates sky and seas.
Third day: God exposes dry land, then creates plants.
Fourth day: God creates the moon, the sun, and the stars.
Fifth day: God creates sea creatures and birds.
Sixth day: God first creates land animals, then creates man and woman.
Seventh day: God rests (this is technically in Genesis 2).

Here, then, is the order of creation:

1. the universe
2. light
3. sky/seas
4. dry land
5. plants
6. moon/sun/stars
7. sea creatures/birds
8. land animals
9. man/woman

Slashes represent things created at the same time. If a later passage gives them a specific ordering, it would not contradict anything written here.

Genesis 2

This chapter appears to be focusing on one day. There are no plants yet, but there is dry land separated from the waters and dampened by mists. This should put us halfway through the third day according to the story in Genesis 1. Before plants are created, though, God makes man out of dust (something that happens on the sixth day in the Genesis 1 story). Then God creates plants in Eden. Then God creates all of the land animals and birds. Then God creates woman.

Let us assume that the first and second days went as they did in Genesis 1. Here, then, is the order of creation:

1. the universe
2. light
3. sky/seas
4. dry land
5. man
6. plants
7. land animals/birds
8. woman

This version of the story does not mention the moon, the sun, and the stars, nor does it mention sea creatures. Place them wherever you want in the order of creation. We can assume they were created at the right times to coincide with the Genesis 1 story. The break starts at point 5 on each list.

digitalimpression's avatar

@SavoirFaire Why do “we” separate the stories as if they are two separate accounts? In the original text I believe Genesis 1–3 were all together, not split up into chapters, making what we now call chapter 2 just another part of the story. In Genesis 2 it is not separated out into days, so placing things in order as you’ve done does not make sense. To me, Genesis 2 is simply going into further detail about certain aspects of the creation in order to lead to the next part of the story.

“you aren’t willing to take more than a casual glance”
This is simply Ad Hominem.. it’s not necessary.

DominicX's avatar

@bkcunningham That is an interesting explanation and I have never heard that before; but yes, I suppose that it makes sense as Matthew’s Gospel is the most “Jewish” of the Gospels and for him to make omissions by accident or for no good reason wouldn’t make any sense as Jewish people reading his Gospel would easily recognize the omissions, if they had read 1 Chronicles (which, it is safe to assume, they all had).

SavoirFaire's avatar

@digitalimpression Modern scholars separate the stories for several reasons, including stylistic differences in the Hebrew that make more sense if the stories came from different sources and were simply recorded together in the text we have. After all, we need to remember that we don’t have the original text. We simply work with the oldest texts currently available.

Also, your responses contradict one another. First you said that Genesis 2 was focused on day 6, so I showed how that couldn’t be correct given that it begins in the middle of day 3 and then diverges. Now you’re saying that the Genesis 2 story isn’t focused on one day, but rather on random details.

Regardless, those details are carefully ordered in the text—and they contradict details that are just as carefully ordered in the Genesis 1 story. The words indicating which events happened before the others are not additions; they are in the Hebrew. If the stories are going to go out of their way to state what order things happened in, placing things in order as I have makes perfect sense.

Ultimately, I don’t care at all about Biblical contradictions. The Bible could be inerrant without being literally true. The emphasis that some people place on literalism is really quite silly at the end of the day because even if we could reconcile the contradiction between Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 (as you are trying to do) it still wouldn’t make the Bible literally true.

The literal meaning of Genesis 1 includes plants being created before man. The literal meaning of Genesis 2 includes man being created before plants. No matter what explanation we give, they cannot both be literally true. The contradiction can only be eased so that there is no crisis of orthodoxy. The word “literal,” after all, sets a high standard—higher than what I think is really intended.

And no, my statement was not ad hominem. For though I was pointing out the incongruity between what you have asked of us and what you are willing to do yourself, my doing so was not an attempt to make or undermine an argument.

digitalimpression's avatar

@SavoirFaire By “not separated out into days” I meant that the author did not say such and such was created and then tell you what day it happened. As far as the rest of your answer.. I disagree with 90% of your assessment of how and why it is written the way it is so I’ll just leave it at that and hope that someone can come up with something new. Preferably sans-Ad Hominem.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@digitalimpression No, the Genesis 2 account does not say which day things happened. Indeed, your original response was that it was simply detailing a single day. Some people actually see a further contradiction in the fact that the Genesis 2 story begins with a statement that seems to imply that all of creation occurred in one day. (This is obscured in some translations, but comes out when you look at more literal translations.)

Regardless, it remains the case that both the original language and the scholarly translations clearly indicate an order of events. A happens before B, which happens before C, which happens before D. This is not an assessment; it is blatant fact. I’m sorry that this thread hasn’t gone the way you planned, but it turns out that there really are contradictions in the Bible (even if they aren’t all that important at the end of the day).

And you shouldn’t worry about ad hominems. There haven’t been any so far, after all.

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