Is There a Contradiction in the Lists of Jesus’ Twelve Disciples? No, The Names Provide Surprising Evidence for the Gospels

The late Christopher Hitchens said, “The New Testament is a work of crude carpentry, hammered together long after its purported events, and full of improvised attempts to make things come out right.” One example of this alleged makeshift handiwork is the names of the Twelve. If the gospel writers can’t get the names of Jesus’ disciples straight, how can we trust them with other details?  On the face of it, it looks like Matthew and Luke contradict: Matthew 10:2-4: “The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, … Read more

Did Jesus cleanse the temple twice? Was he throwing a temper tantrum?

Noted biblical scholar and critic Bart Ehrman says that the gospels have hopelessly irreconcilable differences. Therefore they can’t be trusted as reliable documents. One big difference would be the story of the cleansing of the Temple when you compare John and Mark (and the other synoptic gospels). Here’s Bart:  The Gospel of Mark indicates that it was in the last week of his life that Jesus “cleansed the Temple” by overturning the tables of the money changers and saying, “This is to be a house of prayer…but you have made it a den of thieves” (Mark 11), whereas according to John this happened at the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry (John 2). Some readers have … Read more

Did the author of Matthew’s Gospel make a donkey out of himself when telling the story of Jesus’ Triumphal Entry?

The writer of Matthew is quick to connect Jesus to the Old Testament. You can’t read Matthew for long before he drops a reference from the prophets. But some critics say that’s he’s too quick to connect the dots, to the point where he makes himself out to be a dumb…well, I made the pun once as click-bait and this isn’t a Shrek movie, so we’ll leave it at that. One way Matthew allegedly parades his ignorance of the Old Testament texts in his version of the Triumphal Entry. To help me state this objection here’s Kristin Swenson of The Huffington Post: Mark and Luke agree that Jesus rode on a donkey, and that’s the … Read more

A hopeless Bible contradiction? Why do Matthew and Luke give us two different genealogies for Jesus?

Early in their respective Gospels, Matthew and Luke both present to us Jesus’ genealogy. But there’s a rather glaring problem between the two records. They are irreconcilably different. Popular skeptical blogger Bob Seidensticker calls this one of the most damning Bible contradictions, a discrepancy that strikes at the foundation of Christian claims. To help me state the objection in more detail, I’ll let Bob do the talking: “The Messiah had to be of the line of David (Jeremiah 33:15–17; Isaiah 9:7), so two gospels provide genealogies of Jesus to validate this requirement. The problem is that we only need to go back one generation, to Joseph’s father, to find a problem. Jacob [was] the father … Read more

How many signs did Jesus perform in Galilee? How Bart Ehrman turns passages into contradictions by taking verses out of context

Bart Ehrman says that the gospels are “hopelessly contradictory” and therefore we can’t trust them. But should we really have blind faith in Bart? I’m going to provide you with a sampling of why we shouldn’t. Some of Bart’s tactics are just downright snake-oily. (Is snake-oily a word?) Check out these shenanigans: DOES JOHN NOT KNOW HOW TO COUNT? “There are lots of other discrepancies in the New Testament, some of them far more difficult to reconcile (virtually impossible, I would say) than these simple examples. Not only are there discrepancies among different books of the Bible, but there are also inconsistencies within some of the books, a problem that historical critics have long ascribed … Read more

How Bart Ehrman turns differences into contradictions: Did the women at the tomb of Jesus see a man at the tomb, two men, or two angels? It doesn’t depend on which Gospel you read, but how you read the Gospels.

Here is a favorite ploy of skeptics and critics of the four gospels: Find two stories that use different words, give different details, name different people and emphasize different things. Throw a flag and cry ‘contradiction!’ But differences in the account aren’t necessarily contradictions. Bart Ehrman has made a career of claiming otherwise. Here is a snippet of Bart in his debate on the resurrection with William Lane Craig: Read one story in Matthew, then the same story in Mark, and compare your two stories and see what you come up with. You come up with major differences . . . Did they see a man, did they see two men, or did they see … Read more

A look at an alleged contradiction in the Gospels: Was Jairus’ daughter alive when Jesus was approached or was she already dead?

For historical documents to be reliable, they can’t be full of contradictions. That’s just common sense. As Christians, we say that the Gospels give us an accurate portrayal of historical events, but critics are quick to call foul. They say that the gospel accounts are so full of contradictions that it’s hopeless to even try and argue for their reliability. Or so critics like Bart Ehrman would like us to believe. When asked on his blog if there was a “slam-dunk” contradiction that would be impossible to defend, Bart’s reply was: “I don’t have ONE that is [a] slam-dunk. But there are dozens that are pretty good. Here’s one: Jairus came to Jesus to ask him to … Read more

A look at an alleged contradiction in the gospels: Did the centurion ask Jesus directly to heal his servant, or did he send others to ask?

If you’ve ever been in a discussion online with atheists, you know that one of their favorite moves is to dump a heap of alleged contradictions in the Bible and act like it is game over time. It’s probably a strange way of thinking about it, but I liken it to throwing a bucket of snakes into a crowded movie theater. It only takes a few seconds to dump some slithering serpents and watch people scatter, but it takes a lot longer catch them one by one and deal with them. It can be a pain to play the role of animal control, but someone’s gotta do it. These things do bother people. One of … Read more