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What About All the "Contradictions" in the Bible?

By Editorial Staff
Published April 8, 2008

There’s a typical argument heard on campus, particularly in the religion department: “You can’t trust the Bible because its full of inconsistencies and contradictions.” Religion professors and skeptics of Christianity capitalize on the fact that there are thousands of various readings of both the Old and New Testaments … leaving Christian faith with little to stand on.

But is this true? Ezra Abbot, a member of the American Revision Committee, wrote about the various readings in his Critical Essays: “The number of ‘various readings’ frightens some innocent people, and figures largely in the writings of the more ignorant disbelievers in Christianity. ‘One hundred and fifty-thousand various readings!’ Must not these render the text of the New Testament wholly uncertain, and thus destroy the foundation of our faith?

“The true state of the case is something like this. Of the 150,000 various readings, more or less, of the text of the Greek New Testament, we may dismiss nineteen-twentieths from consideration at once, as being obviously of such a character, or supported by so little authority, that no critic would regard them as having any claim to reception. This leaves, we will say, 7,500.

“But of these, again, it will appear on examination that 19 out of 20 are of no sort of consequence as affecting the sense; they relate to questions of orthography, or grammatical construction, or the order of words, or such other matters as have been mentioned above, in speaking of unimportant variations.

“They concern only the form of expression, not the essential meaning. This reduces the number to perhaps 400, which involve a difference of meaning, often very slight, or the omission or addition of a few words, sufficient to render them objects of some curiosity or interest, while a few exceptional cases among them may relatively be called important. But our critical helps are now so abundant that in a very large majority of these questions of reading we are able to determine the true text with a good degree of confidence. In the text of all ancient writings, there are passages in which the text cannot be settled with certainty; and the same is true of the interpretation.”

Biblical scholar Philip Schaff concludes that only 400 of the 150,000 various readings caused doubt about the textual meaning, and only 50 of these were of great significance. Not one of the variations, Schaff says, “altered an article of faith or a precept of duty which is not abundantly sustained by other and undoubted passages, or by the whole tenor of Scripture teaching.”

That textual errors do not endanger doctrine is emphatically stated by Sir Frederick Kenyon: “No fundamental doctrine of the Christian faith rests on a disputed reading.”

Kenyon also points out that the Bible has the most reliable manuscripts in the world when compared with any other ancient book. “Scholars are satisfied that they possess substantially the true text of the principal Greek and Roman writers whose works have come down to us, of Sophocles, of Thucydides, of Cicero, of Virgil; yet our knowledge of their writing depends on a mere handful of manuscripts, whereas the manuscripts of the New Testament are counted by hundreds, and even thousands.”

Taken from Evidence That Demands a Verdict, by Josh McDowell, © 1972 by Campus Crusade for Christ, San Bernardino, CA pages 43-45.


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Go Stand Speak (DVD)

With “preaching to the lost” being such a basic foundation of Christianity, why do many in the church seem to be apathetic on this issue of preaching in highways and byways of towns and cities?

Is it biblical to stand in the public places of the world and proclaim the gospel, regardless if people want to hear it or not?

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Massacre of Innocence (DVD)

Exposing The Occult Roots of Abortion

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After 40 years of intense study and world-wide ministry, Dr. Francis Schaeffer completed his crowning work of scholarship – to present profound truths in simple film language. Dr. Schaeffer’s brilliant analysis of the past and predictions for current trends have proven so uncannily accurate that this amazing series still feels contemporary almost three decades after its initial release. Ultimately, Schaeffer concludes that man’s only hope is a return to God’s Biblical absolute, the truth revealed in Christ through the Scriptures.

Available for the first time on DVD, this documentary spectacular also includes intimate in-depth conversations with Francis and Edith Schaeffer. With the on-disc study guide, this presentation forms a unique course of comprehensive study. While this series forms an innovative analysis of the past, this outstanding work is more than history. Each episode focuses on a significant era, yet speaks clearly to 21st-century man with answers for modern problems.

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The Beast of Revelation IdentifiedThe Beast of Revelation: Identified (DVD)

Who is the dreaded beast of Revelation?

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Historical footage and other graphics are used to illustrate the lecture Dr. Gentry presented at the 1999 Ligonier Conference in Orlando, Florida. It is followed by a one-hour question and answer session addressing the key concerns and objections typically raised in response to his position. This presentation also features an introduction that touches on not only the confusion and controversy surrounding this issue — but just why it may well be one of the most significant issues facing the Church today.

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The Real Jesus: A Defense of the Historicity and Divinity of ChristThe Real Jesus: A Defense of the Historicity and Divinity of Christ (DVD)

Who is the Real Jesus?

Ever since the dawn of modern rationalism, skeptics have sought to use textual criticism, archeology and historical reconstructions to uncover the “historical Jesus” — a wise teacher who said many wonderful things, but fulfilled no prophecies, performed no miracles and certainly did not rise from the dead in triumph over sin.

Over the past 100 years, however, startling discoveries in biblical archeology and scholarship have all but vanquished the faulty assumptions of these doubting modernists. Regrettably, these discoveries have often been ignored by the skeptics as well as by the popular media. As a result, the liberal view still holds sway in universities and impacts the culture and even much of the church.

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Running Time: 130 minutes

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