How Should We Not Read the Bible? Part 4

Post Author: Bill Pratt

Continuing from part 3 of this series, we now turn to more of the mistakes critics make when alleging errors in the Bible.  These mistakes are taken from Norman Geisler and Tom Howe’s The Big Book of Bible Difficulties.

Mistake #8: Assuming that a Partial Report is a False Report.

Sometimes multiple authors in the Bible describe the same historical events, but not in the exact same way.  Each report is a partial report from a particular point of view.  Critics attack the biblical authors for recounting different and divergent facts about the same event, but conversely would accuse the authors of collusion or plagiarism if they recounted the exact same facts in the exact same way.

For example, just because the four Gospel writers recorded different details about the life of Jesus does not mean that they are being deceptive.  Every historian chooses particular facts to convey to his readers, depending on what his purpose is.  It is completely unrealistic to expect anything different from the biblical authors.

Mistake #9: Demanding that NT Citations of the OT Always Be Exact Quotations.

Critics sometimes point to NT citations of the OT as proof of error because the citations do not exactly match the words of the OT.  This, however, does not follow.  It was commonly acceptable, and still is today, to paraphrase someone else’s statement as long as the meaning of the statement is conserved, even if the exact words are not.  As Geisler and Howe state, “The same meaning can be conveyed without using the same verbal expressions.”

Mistake 10: Assuming that Divergent Accounts Are False Ones.

This mistake closely resemble mistake number #8, but stresses that not only are partial reports not necessarily false, but neither are divergent accounts.  Again, just because two biblical authors record differing details of one historical event does not mean that they are mistaken or deceitful.

A good example is the account of Judas Iscariot’s death.  “Matthew (27:5) informs us that Judas hanged himself. But Luke says that ‘he burst open in the middle and all his entrails gushed out’ (Acts 1:18). Once more, these accounts differ, but they are not mutually exclusive. If Judas hanged himself on a tree over the edge of a cliff and his body fell on sharp rocks below, then his entrails would gush out just as Luke vividly describes.”

Seven more mistakes to go…