Wednesday, June 21, 2006


I am getting sick and tired of the outlandish and crazy accusations and assertions that are made in order to try and contradict the Bible and specifically what it says about Christ. I was shown an MSNBC article that covers a horrible book that has come out recently called “The Jesus Papers” written by a man by the name of Michael Baigent. Without giving a whole review of the book, I would like to make a few comments on it. Quite frankly, I honestly don’t want to waste my time with reading it after having read what the author has said about the book.

First of all, I want to define a term that is bandied about far too often when talking about anything, but specifically when discussing the Bible or the life of Christ. Aristotle laid out what a contradiction is by saying, “one cannot say of something that it is and that it is not in the same respect and at the same time.” To say this another way, I will use an example. Please look at the character directly below, it will be referred to as “figure #1”:


Statement #1: Figure #1 is P.
Statement #2: Figure #1 is not P.

The above 2 statements are an actual contradiction.

Statement #3: Figure #1 is P.
Statement #4: Figure #1 is black.
Statement #5: Figure #1 is a letter of the English alphabet.
Statement #6: Figure #1 is a capital letter.

The above 4 statements are not contradictory. They are true statements about the same thing.

Why did I make such a big deal about defining what a contradiction is? Well, one of the most common objections thrown at the Bible is, “The Bible is full of contradictions.” I respond to this accusation by asking the would-be-debunker of Christianity to show me a contradiction. The response I receive then is usually something to the effect that there are so many contradictions and that I am pretty foolish if I don’t know of one. However, in this response the accuser still has not pointed out an actual contradiction. When I press further, someone would bring up the death of Judas Iscariot or the fact that the different gospels all say that the sign above Christ’s head said different things.

The Judas Contradiction:

This is basically the comment that there are two different descriptions of the death of Judas, and therefore the Bible cannot be trusted. The texts in question are Matthew 27:5 and Acts 1:18. In the passage in Matthew we are told that Matthew went out and hanged himself, whereas in Acts he is said to have fallen and his intestines spewed out.

Now remember the correct understanding of a contradiction that we looked at earlier? Does one text say that he hanged himself and the other say that he did not hang himself? Does one text say that the actual cause of death was because of the hanging and the other say that his cause of death was from the spilling of his intestines?


Is there any scenario where both of these things could have occurred, and is there any other reasons why both of these could have occurred? I think that the answer is yes, absolutely.

Without getting into a ton of detail, here is what probably happened. Judas, after betraying Jesus and lamenting it, went out and hanged himself from a tree. His body was left exposed to the elements for a long period of time (a day or more) which caused it to bloat and swell up. The rope or the branch holding the rope then gives way and Judas’ dead body falls onto ground causing the lacerations and the spewing of his intestines.

This may seem like it is a stretch, but when people have gone and examined the places that are mentioned in the text to find out what the scenery was, this idea was given much more merit. In the location where Judas most likely hanged himself was a tree and the branches extended over a drop, so that the ground level was lower than where he climbed the tree from. Below these branches are various rocks that could cause the damage described in Acts if fallen upon.

Also, the it could be called the “field of blood” (Matthew 27:8) because blood money was used to purchase it (Matthew 27:6) or because of the disgusting scene when people came and found Judas’ dead and exploded corpse lying in the field itself.

The Sign Contradiction:

This one is almost laughable, but I can address it too. When Jesus was crucified, Pilate had a sign hung over his head. In the gospels, the different writers tell us what the sign said:

Matthew 27:37 “This is Jesus the king of the Jews”
Mark 15:26 “The King of the Jews”
Luke 23:38 “This is the king of the Jews”
John 19:19 “Jesus the Nazarene, the king of the Jews”

One key point about the sign needs to be made understood is that it was written in the Hebrew, Latin, and Greek languages (John 19:20). The reason I make this point is that if you have ever studied any foreign language, you know if you want to say the same thing in two languages, you may use different kinds of words and the order of the words may not look the same at all. When you throw Hebrew in the mix, a language that is read from right to left, the different appearance of the words on the sign is even more pronounced.

But again, let’s look at this and ask if these statements contradict each other. They do not. Do they all say exactly the same thing? No, but one does not say that the man’s name was “George” while the others say “Jesus”. Also, if you and 3 friends saw a sign 20 or 30 years ago that made a memorable statement, and you wrote down what it said or the essence of what it said, you would probably all remember various parts of the sign, and not the entire statement exactly as it was written.

We can, and should look at this concern in a serious and logical way.1 It is not absurd to surmise that the sign included all of the different sayings that the gospel writers indicated.


If we truly look through the Bible to find actual contradictions, we will not find any. There are other differences that are questioned, but all of them can be explained and understood in a way that does not distort or dilute the meaning, authority, or inspiration of the scriptures.

Many times when people refer to contradictions, they may be referencing a paradox, and not a contradiction. A paradox is defined as “a statement that is seemingly contradictory or opposed to common sense and yet is perhaps” or “an argument that apparently derives self-contradictory conclusions by valid deduction from acceptable premises”2 A good example of a paradox would be the Trinity – one God that eternally exists in three distinct, co-equal persons. Three Persons yet one God; it seems contradictory, but it is not because we are not saying “one God yet three Gods” or “three Persons yet one Person.” Even though our minds can never truly make this whole thing work out completely, it is not contradictory. So this remains (one of) the grand paradox of the faith.

1 We should be serious because any concern or objection raised about the bible and what it says needs to be dealt with in a way that is not flippant or casual. We should be logical because if we are to understand the problem as well as figure out what the facts are or what is in dispute, we cannot be reckless with our assertions. I will say, though, that if someone raises endless vain questions or non sequitur’s, I tend to ignore them and continue to the heart of the issue.

2 Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary

No comments:

Copyright © 2005-2010 Eric Johnson