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A Legitimate Problem

September 5, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

Looking at my source for biblical contradictions again, I have some good news for us all! There is a legitimate contradiction in the bible, that is just wrong.
Source:

How many stalls and horsemen?

1KI 4:26 And Solomon had forty thousand stalls of horses for his chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen.

2CH 9:25 And Solomon had four thousand stalls for horses and chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen; whom he bestowed in the chariot cities, and with the king at Jerusalem.

Clearly either 1 Kings or 2 Chronicles is wrong. Which is wrong isn’t so clear. Perhaps if I were more knowledgeable about horses to horseman ratios I could give you an accurate guess. But I’m not, and I have no idea. So the question isn’t if there’s a contradiction, but which one’s wrong, and what are the implications?

Well, I’ve already answered which one’s wrong with an “I don’t know”. So let’s jump into the implications. This implies that one book out of the bible is unreliable, yes, but to what extent? Most likely this was a typo-esque error. It’s dealing with quantities. I work on cash registers a lot, and I know how easy it is to make a mistake resulting in a few hundreds of dollars difference. It would be interesting to take a look at the dead sea scrolls and see what they have to say on the matter. I don’t have a good source for this, but will look into it. Anybody have a source handy or a good place to start looking? So it’s a typo with the original author or with a copying scribe (Most likely). That means we can’t assume meanings have been severely altered. ‘if’s and ‘or’s people!
Also, this kind of unreliability cannot be placed on the other books of the bible written by different authors and often in different time periods. That would be similar to placing skepticism on all the books of an anthology because of an error in one book. Surely Deborah Cadbury’s Space Race would not be viewed as unreliable because it was in a collection with a book that supports geocentricism. So is the bible contradictory, apparently so. But it’s relatively inconsequential in this instance. Time to get studyin’!
But seriously, dead sea scrolls source, anyone?

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  1. De Brevitate Vitae
    January 25, 2012 at 7:42 PM

    Check out these passages:

    2 Samuel 24:9: And Joab gave up the sum of the number of the people to the king: and there were in Israel eight hundred thousand valiant men that drew the sword; and the men of Judah were five hundred thousand men.

    1 Chronicles 21:5 :And Joab gave the sum of the number of the people to David. And all they of Israel were a thousand thousand and an hundred thousand men that drew sword [1,100,000]: and Judah was four hundred three score and ten thousand men that drew sword [470,000].

    These numbers are incredibly different and where the people in Israel are lower in Samuel and higher in Chronicles, the opposite is true for Judah.

    Also, the events surrounding Judas’s death are also quite confusing to me. Look at Acts 1:18 and Matthew 27:5-7. He either kept the money and bought a field with it (or he didn’t), and keeled over while in that field (or he hung himself somewhere else).

    As you suggest, does this really mean anything other than there are some (somewhat unimportant) contradictions in the Bible? Nope. Not unless you claim it is perfect.

    • January 26, 2012 at 1:42 PM

      Interesting passages. Honestly I don’t remember if I made the claim that the bible is perfect in those older posts about Biblical inconsistencies. I’m pretty sure I didn’t, because I really don’t believe that. There are some few inconsistencies that arise and I have seen them (like the ones you and I posted). There’s also the problem of trying to convince someone the bible is perfect while there’s many different translations in many different languages and depending on which denominational group it comes out of has different books within. So no, I don’t claim the bible is perfect.
      What I do believe is the bible was written by various different men (and possibly women) in various different situations to various ends. Once we understand those three variables in context we can then at least have good interpretation of a less than perfect anthology.
      I also believe the bible was inspired by God. However, like all things God inspired when they touch the hands of man they become less than perfect with our inevitable fingerprints of error all over it. But God’s fingerprints are there too, if we allow ourselves to see it.

      Interesting story about the Acts 1:18 and Matthew 27:5-7 conflict. Acts and Luke are assumed to be written both by the same person, likely Luke, for their similar writings styles and series-esque nature. Also they are addressed to the same person, in the same manner. Luke’s narratives are written with extreme accuracy on all their verifiable: land marks, timelines of political events, chronology, and the like. It’s more than likely that Luke’s rendering of the event is more accurate, as it is first a book of history telling an accurate story of all that happened.
      Matthew’s narrative is very different in terms of purpose. While in content Luke and Matthew have the most similarities, it is odd how different the texts really are. Matthew is written with a heavy theme of prophecy fulfillment. From the beginning of the book Matthew points out how events relate to old testament prophecy. He eventually drops the calling it out bluntly, but it remains obvious in his writing that he’s referring to the Old Testament prophets. Essentially it’s the story of Jesus told by the Old Testament, with narrative to fill in the gaps. “So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the Lord for the Potter” -Zechariah 11:13. That’s the reason for the inconsistency. Pretty cool, huh?

      I think if it weren’t such a controversial topic that study of this book for little nuggets like that would be the most fun hobby of fairly intellectual people.

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