Saturday, October 31, 2009

contradictions in the Bible

The Bible contains contradictions. It’s easy to make an accusation such as this. How does someone respond to this charge? First, the critic needs to cite specifics. Oftentimes, people making this statement do not have any identifiable contradictions to cite. In the interest of open inquiry, we will assist the critics by mentioning a common one here:
Doesn’t the Bible contradict itself regarding the number of people who visited the tomb of Jesus after the crucifixion? Reference Matthew 28:1, which states: Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave.
So, clearly Matthew records two Mary’s as the first of Jesus’ followers to visit the tomb. But John, another eyewitness to the crucifixion, wrote that only one Mary visited the tomb: Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came early to the tomb, while it was still dark, and saw the stone already taken away from the tomb. (John 20:1) Obviously, this is a contradiction, making the Bible an unreliable book, right? Not exactly.
First, John did not state that Mary Magdalene was the only person to visit the tomb. Second, since Mary Magdalene was the one who told Peter and John (verse 2) the body was missing, John remembered this as an important detail in his narrative and put it to writing. The other Mary was not important to the point John was making, so he did not mention her. If I was telling a story about meeting someone at a Steelers football game, I would likely not mention the other 58,000 people at the stadium; rather, I would state the narrative regarding the individual I met personally. So, there were two Marys at the tomb and zero contradictions regarding this account.