Is the Bible Inerrant?Time and time again, the Bible has been pounded with thunderous scrutiny and skepticism. Although its pages provide a source of spiritual replenishment, the Bible's verses are also battlegrounds and the splitting lines of doctrines. Although the Bible initially started out as a collection of writings composed by christian believers, how is that the Bible is know today as the "Word of God," the exact words breathed into the mouths of believers by God himself? At what point in history did the writings of the early church fathers and apostles become "God's Holy Word"? These questions will be answered and much more.
A More Intimate Look
Many skeptics are quick to point out inconsistincies in the Bible, which they hope will prove it false. Most of these claims cannot be substantiated, but there are some specific events in the canonical gospels that are historically questionable. One of the biggest is that of the events that take place at Jesus' tomb.
1. Resurrection Day at the Tomb
As you may notice, all four gospels are distinctly different on the account of who visited the tomb and the events that happened shortly thereafter. In Matthew, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary go to the tomb and see an angel. Then, they go and tell the disciples of what they saw. The book of Mark tells us that Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome visit the tomb. They all see the angel, but they tell noone of what happened. In Luke's version, it is Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Joanna who witness not one, but two angels. The women tell the disciples about this, but only Peter comes to investigate. In John, Mary Magdalene visits the tomb alone but there is no sign of angels at all. She tells Peter and John the news, and they take off running to the tomb to verify her claim.
2. The Crucifixion
As it seems, the events listed in the four Gospels pertaining to the crucifixion of Christ tend to show some contrast with one another as well. Matthew and Mark both describe Jesus being crucified alongside two criminals who both mock him. Matthew's account diverts after Jesus' death when he describes a great earthquake along with a haunting picture of the dead rising from their tombs and walking about in the city. Luke, however, shows only one of the criminals to mock him while the other accepts him. John's account does not even mention anyone else being crucified alongside Jesus and is devoid of many details.
Luke gives a much more uplifting account than Mark of how God's faithful should die. Jesus prays for his tormentors in Luke: "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing." Luke emphasizes Jesus innocence--innocence recognized even by a condemned criminal--and shows that even the dying Jesus has the power to forgive, to redeem, and to save the lost. Luke omits Jesus' anguished cry ("My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Psalm 22:1), along with Jesus' last, inarticulate scream, and replaces them instead with a prayer of faith taken from Psalm 31:5: "Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, 'Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.' Having said this, he breathed his last." Thus Luke banishes the scene of agony and replaces it with trusting submission to God.
After viewing the different "discrepancies" presented here from the Gospels, it would be unwise to suggest that all four accounts completely and rationally comply with one another. They merely display the experiences of different people. The gospels are neither biographies nor are they purely historical data as far as definitions go. However, in light of these "discrepancies", we might wonder how these Gospel accounts came to differ. It is most likely that some passages became skewed and somewhat mutated after their transfer from copy to copy or that the accounts merely seem different because of the point of view of the author. No personal experience that is recorded by a person can ever be completely historical as far as we know the word because a person's emotions, cultural and religious background, viewpoint, and even a person's discriminations affect the way that they perceive reality. However, just because one may see small instances in the Bible where the texts don't completely agree, it would not be wise to dismiss the entire Gospel account or New Testament as completely lacking historical content. The Bible contains a plethora of accurate historical events and cannot be invalidated because of a few "errors" or misperceptions.
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