Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 11, 1963
NUMBER 48, PAGE 3,11b

Errors And Contradictions In The Bible?

Dudley Ross Spears, Blytheville, Ark.

The English translation of the Bible contains some contradictions and errors. This is an undeniable fact. There are statements in this Bible that flatly contradict other statements in this Bible. Some of the contradictions are only apparent contradictions but others cannot be reconciled at all. Men sometimes make the unqualified statement, "The Bible does not contain a single contradiction that cannot be explained." This unqualified statement is simply false. When such remarks fall on skeptical ears who are discerning students it confirms their skepticism and gives them a weapon to use against the Bible on those they seek to influence.

A careful study of the English Old Testament will reveal errors and discrepancies of numerical character. Some things reported in the books of Chronicles and Kings are contradictory and cannot be reconciled into agreement. For example in 2 Chronicles 22:2 and 38:9 the age of Ahaziah is given as forty-two years old when he began his reign. Jehoiachin is said to be eight years old when he began to reign. But the corresponding reports in II Kings say Ahaziah was twenty-two years old at the beginning of his reign (2 Kings 8:28) and Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he began to reign (2 Kings 24:8). Just any way you figure it there is a discrepancy. It is generally admitted that this error and others like it are the mistakes made in copying the manuscripts from the originals. These mistakes are charged to copyists of a very early date. The writing of the Hebrew language lends itself to changing the numerical value of a character by the slightest deviation in writing.

Yet, the admission of an error made in copying an original manuscript is not an admission of an error in the original. The original documents of the Bible are called "autographs!' None exists today. The critics of the Bible have never had access to the originals for comparison with the copies. Thus, it is plain assumption and assertion to say the originals contained errors.

These errors and contradictions are very slight and insignificant. They, even in their inconsequential nature, positively affirm the authenticity of the Bible. This may sound illogical but as you consider the nature of the errors and the profound and intricate care taken by later copyists of the manuscripts of the Bible I think you will agree they positively affirm the divinity of the Bible. It is said of later copyists that they observed the following procedure: (1) They wrote on parchments made of the skin of clean animals. The parchments were bound together by either thongs of clean animal skin or goat's hair which was woven by a Jewish lady. (2) One error on a parchment meant that the whole page was done again. (31 On each parchment there were a standard number of columns of exact dimension. Each one contained only a certain number of words. (4) Pure ink was used and before they wrote any word it was spoken aloud. (5) Before writing the word "God" they washed their pens and before the name "Jehovah" they washed themselves and their clothing. It may border on superstition but it shows their profound reverence, respect for and confidence toward the Bible. Surely it is very highly probable that as these copyists of later years came upon an apparent error that they would be tempted to alter the numbers so as to make them agree. Yet their profound reverence and fidelity kept them from yielding to such temptation! I believe this speaks loudly of the Divine character of the Book that has been copied more than any other book in the world and contains only these light and paltry errors. As example of the difference in the substitutes made by men and the Bible as given by God I ask you to consider the Book of Mormon. The original (which can still be read) publication of the Book of Mormon contained innumerable grammatical blunders. Some of it didn't even make sense! Later editions of the Book of Mormon were changed to conform to the rules of grammar. This reflects the unreliability of the original and the Improvement (grammatically) made by later copyists of the Book of Mormon. The later copyists of the Bible however had too much confidence and respect for it to change even a slight numerical contradiction.

When people allow such trivial errors in the Old Testament records to turn their faith into skepticism they act irrationally. They do not act like this in the field of Science. Rather they feel that Science contains "rational truth" and after leaving faith in Christ they suddenly and almost invariably adopt the "Scientific" explanation of man and his origin. Yet look for a moment at the serious and major errors and contradictions of Science. For many years it was the scientific opinion that the Heavens contained "not more than 3,000 stars." Now the one hundred inch telescope at Mt. Wilson near Los Angeles, Cal., cannot even find all the stars, and astronomers admit they are apparently numberless. Scientists at one time thought the world rested on a gigantic snake! This was the "scientific" fact Pindar, an ancient scientist, produced. Ptolemy, Plato and Aristotle and probably others opined that the world was as flat as a pancake and floated on a gigantic Sea! Other things like the former and present theories concerning blood circulation, cellular structure, divisibility of the Atom could be mentioned to show the discrepancies and contradictions of Science. Yet some men and women lose their faith in Christ upon finding some very slight and insignificant error in the Bible. This is not rational behavior of the mind!

Faith in Christ can safeguard one from the possibility of skepticism. My faith in Christ will never allow me to discard Him as an imposter and His word as a book of "folk lore" because of an insignificant numerical contradiction. May God bless us all with honesty, faith and rational minds.

— Blytheville, Arkansas