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Why are there inconsistencies in the Bible?

21 August 2013, 10:04

The New Testament seems to contain many events about Jesus that on the surface are easy to understand, but when you try to tie up events, begin to unravel.

One of these strange inconsistencies that I would like to talk about Jesus’s birth. Now we have two separate accounts of Jesus’s birth from the Bible and in addition, two genealogies. Both  Luke and Matthew are apparently genealogies according to the books themselves and both agree that Joseph is a decedent of King David. To quote:

Matthew 1:16 "...and Matthan begot Jacob. And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ."

And

Luke 3:23 "...the son of Joseph, the son of Heli, the son of Matthat..."

Now ignoring the fact that both accounts end the genealogy differently, they do both trace back to Solomon, then King David. This is the important part as it is used in proving Gods existence by pointing to the prophecies in Psalms and Isaiah, and declaring them as fulfilled in the Matthew and Luke account. This is seen as evidence of Gods existence – that an event was foretold that came to pass. Any good Christian should be vaguely aware of some of the prophecies of the messiah.

Now on the surface this seems to tie up (ignoring the mistakes of the genealogy as they are fairly unimportant) and give us good evidence for a prophecy.

However, this in fact actually gives us a major problem. If Jesus had a virgin birth, then he is NOT decedent from David, and thus not in fact the Messiah. In fact the apostle Paul also seems to be aware of this problem as he wrote in Romans:

Romans 1:3 "concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh"

Now if he had been of David’s seed, then the prophecies would be true, but as a central tenet of Christianity is in fact that Jesus has a virgin birth, then this puts us at odds, first with the prophecy, and second with Pauls own writings on Jesus.

Now you might think that perhaps Paul makes a mistake in his writing and overlooked for a moment that the birth was a virgin miracle, but this is in fact not the case. Or rather, if it was the case, Paul never feels the need - in any of his writing of his 13 books - ever to mention the virgin birth. Neither apparently does the book of Mark or John – two other Gospels. In fact when Paul rebukes the foolishness of the Galatians for their faith, asking them to re-examine their beliefs, instead of pointing to the miracle birth, he simply has this to say:

Galatians 4:4 "But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law"

So mundane is the account given, that I question if Paul is even aware of the virgin birth at all.

The events surrounding the birth become ever stranger as we begin to consider them.

For example in both Matthew and Luke, an account of how an Angel appears in a dream to Joseph and tells him that Jesus will do great things, and save people from their sins is given.

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. Is one example of the dream he receives.

Despite the details of what the Angel saying being slightly different, there is a larger point I wish to make.

Consider also the events surrounding the birth. You need only look at a nativity play to know that his birth coincided with a Star over Bethlehem, and wise kings from afar lavishing the baby Jesus in gifts and blessings and shepherds leaving their flocks among other things. Matthew gives us the importance of the account:

Matthew 2:2 “… and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

Now you might ask what’s strange about that - and ignoring the miracles, nothing really. What is strange is that these events seem not to have had a large effect on Mary and Joseph if at all. We all know the story about how Jesus is left behind at a Temple, and Mary and Joseph only seem to notice a day later:

“”but supposing Him to have been in the company, they went a day’s journey, and sought Him among their relatives and acquaintances.”

I believe it to be perfectly reasonable to expect the parents who knew they were watching over the son of God, to possibly be slightly more aware of his daily wonderings.

What I find even more surprising and astoundingly strange is that Jesus’s own account of his parents is fairly blasé. He tells us in Mark:

Mark 6:4 "But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honour except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house.”

So it appears even his own family did not pay him much attention or respect. Does it not strike you as odd that with all the fanfare of his birth, the miracle of it, the events that surround it, why did Mary and Joseph firstly not bother to remember any stories about him beyond one time they left him at a temple? And furthermore, why they never seem to make much ado about him at all, including his prophecy?

I find this a monumental challenge to any reasonable person.

Conclusion:

The bible is purported to be a book of answers. In it I find only more questions, the genealogy of Jesus is inconsistent, the prophecies unfulfilled, the most important apostle of all – Paul - is not even aware of a virgin birth. The actual birth accounts do not agree and Jesus’s parents seem to take no special care of the most important Child born, despite multiple visions and miraculous events, to the extent that Jesus himself is complaining he has no respect in his own household.

Perhaps we should look at the evidence, and see what conclusions we can reasonably draw from it.

Kind regards

Pete

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