Saturday, September 3, 2011

Bible difficulties Answered (Part 17)

By: Jay Smith, Alex Chowdhry, Toby Jepson, James Schaeffer

"The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him." (Proverbs 18:17)

57. Did the voice tell Paul what he was to do on the spot (Acts 26:16-18), or was he commanded to go to Damascus to be told what to do (Acts 9:7; 22:10)?

(Category: misunderstood the historical context)

Paul was told his duties in Damascus as can be seen from Acts 9 and 22. However in Acts 26 the context is different. In this chapter Paul doesn't worry about the chronological or geographical order of events because he is talking to people who have already heard his story.

In Acts 9:1-31 Luke, the author of Acts, narrates the conversion of Saul.

In Acts 22:1-21 Luke narrates Paul speaking to Jews, who knew who Paul was and had actually caused him to be arrested and kept in the Roman Army barracks in Jerusalem. He speaks to the Jews from the steps of the barracks and starts off by giving his credentials as a Jew, before launching into a detailed account of his meeting with the Lord Jesus Christ and his conversion.

In Acts 26:2-23 Luke, however, narrates the speech given by Paul, (who was imprisoned for at least two years after his arrest in Jerusalem and his speech in Acts 22,). This was given to the Roman Governor Festus and King Herod Agrippa, both of whom were already familiar with the case. (Read the preceding Chapters). Therefore they did not require a full blown explanation of Paul's case, but a summary. Which is exactly what Paul gives them. This is further highlighted by Paul reminding them of his Jewish credentials in one part of a sentence, "I lived as a Pharisee," as opposed to two sentences in Acts 22:3. Paul also later in the Chapter is aware that King Agrippa is aware of the things that have happened in verses 25-27.

58. Did 24,000 Israelites die in the plague in 'Shittim' (Numbers 25:1, 9), or was it only 23,000 Israelites who died (1 Corinthians 10:8)?

(Category: confused this incident with another)

This apparent contradiction asks how many people died from the plague that occurred in Shittim (which incidentally is misspelt 'Shittin' in Shabbir's pamphlet). Numbers 25:1-9 and 1 Corinthians 10:8 are contrasted. Shabbir is referring to the wrong plague here.

If he had looked at the context of 1 Corinthians 10, he would have noted that Paul was referring to the plague in Exodus 32:28, which takes place at Mt. Sinai and not to that found in Numbers 25, which takes place in Shittim, amongst the Moabites. If there is any doubt refer to verse 7 of 1 Corinthians 10, which quotes almost exactly from Exodus 32:6, "Afterwards they sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry."

Now there are those who may say that the number killed in the Exodus 32 account were 3,000 (Exodus 32:28) another seeming contradiction, but one which is easily rectified once you read the rest of the text. The 3,000 killed in verse 28 account for only those killed by men with swords. This is followed by a plague which the Lord brings against those who had sinned against him in verse 35, which says, "And the Lord struck the people with a plague because of what they did with the calf Aaron had made." It is to this plague which Paul refers to in 1 Corinthians 10:8.

(Geisler/Howe 1992:458-459)

59. Did 70 members of the house of Jacob come to Egypt (Genesis 46:27), or was it 75 members (Acts 7:14)?

(Category: misunderstood the historical context)

This apparent contradiction asks how many members of the house of Jacob went to Egypt. The two passages contrasted are Genesis 46:27 and Acts 7:14. However both passages are correct. In the Genesis 46:1-27 the total number of direct descendants that traveled to Egypt with Jacob were 66 in number according to verse 26. This is because Judah was sent on ahead in verse 28 of Chapter 46 and because Joseph and his two sons were already in Egypt. However in verse 27 all the members of the family are included, including Joseph and his sons and Judah making a total number of 70, referring to the total number of Jacob's family that ended up in Egypt not just those that traveled with him to Egypt.

In the older Septuagint and Dead Sea Scroll manuscripts the number given in verse 27 is 75. This is because they also include Joseph's three grandsons and two great grandsons listed in Numbers 26:28-37, and in at least the Septuagint version their names are listed in Genesis 46:20. Therefore the Acts 7:14 quotation of Stephen's speech before his martyrdom is correct because he was quoting from the Septuagint.

60. Did Judas buy a field (Acts 1:18) with his blood-money for betraying Jesus, or did he throw it into the temple (Matthew 27:5)?

(Category: misunderstood the author's intent)

This apparent contradiction asks, 'What did Judas do with the blood money he received for betraying Jesus?' In Acts 1:18 it is claimed that Judas bought a field. In Matthew 27:5 it was thrown into the Temple from where the priests used it to buy a field. However, upon closer scrutiny it appears one passage is just a summary of the other.

Matthew 27:1-10 describes in detail the events that happened in regard to Judas betrayal of Jesus, and their significance in terms of the fulfillment of the Scriptures. In particular he quotes from the prophet Zechariah 11:12-13 which many think are clarifications of the prophecies found in Jeremiah 19:1-13 and 32:6-9.

In the Acts 1:18-19 passage however, Luke is making a short resume of something that people already knew, as a point of clarification to the speech of Peter, among the believers (the same situation as we found in question number 57 earlier). This is illustrated by the fact that in verse 19 he says, "Everyone in Jerusalem heard about this". Also it is more than probable that the Gospel record was already being circulated amongst the believers at the time of Luke's writing. Luke, therefore, was not required to go into detail about the facts of Judas' death.

61. Did Judas die by hanging himself (Matthew 27:5) or by falling headlong and bursting open with all his bowels gushing out (Acts 1:18)?

(Category: the texts are compatible with a little thought)

This alleged contradiction is related to the fact that Matthew in his Gospel speaks of Judas hanging himself but in Acts 1:18 Luke speaks about Judas falling headlong and his innards gushing out. However both of these statements are true.

Matthew 27:1-10 mentioned the fact that Judas died by hanging himself in order to be strictly factual. Luke, however in his report in Acts1:18-19 wants to cause the feeling of revulsion among his readers, for the field spoken about and for Judas, and nowhere denies that Judas died by hanging. According to tradition, it would seem that Judas hanged himself on the edge of a cliff, above the Valley of Hinnom. Eventually the rope snapped, was cut or untied and Judas fell upon the field below as described by Luke.

62. Is the field called the 'field of blood' because the priest bought it with blood money (Matthew 27:8), or because of Judas's bloody death (Acts 1:19)?

(Category: misunderstood the wording)

Once again, looking at the same two passages as the last two apparent contradictions Shabbir asks why the field where Judas was buried called the Field of Blood? Matthew 27:8 says that it is because it was bought with blood-money, while, according to Shabbir Acts 1:19 says that it was because of the bloody death of Judas.

However both passages agree that it was due to it being bought by blood-money. Acts 1:18-19 starts by saying, "With the reward he got for his wickedness, Judas bought a field". So it begins with the assumption that the field was bought by the blood-money, and then the author intending to cause revulsion for what had happened describes Judas bloody end on that piece of real estate.


No comments:

Post a Comment

GCIM Discussion Forum: Latest Discussions