#31. Is the covenant of circumcision an eternal covenant OR not? (Gen 17:1-14 vs Gal 3-4; Rom 4:9-12)

At heart, this contradiction is between a text written by an elitist Aaronid priestly guild writing from their exilic condition in Babylon at the end of the 6th century BC, and which was a specific response to their historical crisis and to its historical audience AND a text written by fervent Jew “in Christ” writing in the 1st century AD to a Hellenistic audience on the fringes of the Roman empire. It too was shaped by itsRead More

#30. Yahweh’s promise to give the land of Canaan as an eternal possession to Abraham and his seed is conditional to observing which covenant: the covenant of circumcision OR the Deuteronomic covenant stipulated in Deut 12-26? (Gen 17:1-14 vs Deut 4:1, 5:28-30, 6:1-2, 8:1, 28:15-63, 29:24-27, 30:17-18)

In contradictions #28 and #29 we learned that the version of the Abrahamic covenant now preserved in Genesis 17:1-14 was penned by the Priestly writer. In it Yahweh as El Shaddai promises to give Abraham and his seed “all the land of Canaan as an eternal possession,” and to become their god (17:8). In exchange for this Abraham and his seed must observe and keep the covenant: And you, you shallRead More

#29. Is the promise of the land of Canaan given unconditionally OR conditionally? (Gen 12:7, 13:15, 15:7, etc. vs Gen 17:1-14; Deut 4:1, 4:40, 5:29-30, etc.; Ezek 33:23-29)

In #28 we saw that the book of Genesis actually contains two once separate accounts of the Abrahamic covenant, and we noted their main differences and contradiction. In this post and the 2 that follow we will look at other contradictory expressions of the Abrahamic covenant between the writings of the Yahwist, Priestly source, the Deuteronomist, and lastly Paul. The promise of possessing the land of Canaan to Abraham and his descendants is aRead More

#28. Does Yahweh make a covenant with Abraham and bind it through a sacrifice OR does El Shaddai place his covenant between Abraham and himself and bind it through the observance of circumcision? (Gen 15:9-18 vs Gen 17:1-14)

The book of Genesis as it now stands contains two separate Abrahamic covenant passages: Genesis 15:1-18 and Genesis 17:1-14. When we examine these two passages closely we notice that each one has its own particular style, vocabulary, and theological emphasis. For example, the version in Genesis 15 consistently uses the name Yahweh when referring to the deity, is set as an informal dialogue between Abraham and Yahweh, the conversation is focused on the issueRead More

#27. Are Yahweh and El the same god OR different gods? (Gen 14:22, 17:1, 21:33; Ex 6:2-3; Ps 82:1 vs Deut 32:8-9; Ps 29:1, 89:6-8)

Recent archaeological, biblical, and extrabiblical research has led scholars working in the area of the origins of Israelite religion to assert rather boldly and confidently that the original god of Israel was in fact the Canaanite deity El.1 Just exactly how has this come about you ask? First, the name Israel is not a Yahwistic name. El is the name of the deity invoked in the name Israel, which translates: “May ElRead More

A BIBLE CONTRADICTION A DAY !

starting 1/1/13 I will post 1 biblical contradiction a day and explain why it’s in the bible, who wrote the texts that now contradict each other, and what this tells us about how the bible was assembled.

Welcome to Contradictions in the Bible

Unlike many sites that have attempted to enumerate the Bible’s many contradictions, and in somewhat simplistic or even antagonistic terms, this site is devoted to explaining why there are contradictions in the Bible using modern biblical source criticism. As the term implies, this methodological approach to the Bible looks at the Bible’s sources, that is its once separate and individual texts—all of which were penned by more than 70 different authors, overRead More

#26. Did Abraham present Sarah as his sister to Pharaoh in Egypt OR to Abimelek in Gerar OR did Isaac present Rebekah as his sister to Abimelek in Gerar? (Gen 12:10-20 vs Gen 20:1-18 vs Gen 26:1-11)

These three accounts are actuality the same story presented three different times: both Genesis 12:10-20 and Genesis 26:1-11 come from the hand of the Yahwist, while Genesis 20:1-18 comes from the Elohist source, which we hear about for the first time here. It is the story of a patriarch who sojourns in a foreign land with his wife, and claims that she is not his wife in order to save himself from beingRead More

#24. Is Abraham’s birthplace Ur of the Chaldeans OR Haran? (Gen 11:28, 11:31, 15:7 vs Gen 12:4-5, 28:10, 29:4)
#25. Does Abraham set off toward the land of Canaan by his father’s hand OR by commandment from Yahweh? (Gen 11:31 vs Gen 12:1)

Commentators have traditionally seen the Bible making two conflicting claims about Abraham’s birthplace. Genesis 11:28 states that Abraham’s father’s birthplace was “Ur of the Chaldeans” and 11:31 states that Abraham’s father, Terah, along with his extended family left “Ur of the Chaldeans to go to the land of Canaan.” Thus, according to this textual tradition Abraham’s birthplace is Ur of the Chaldeans. The narrative beginning in the next chapter, however, introducesRead More

#23. Is Lot Abraham’s nephew OR brother? (Gen 11:27 vs Gen 13:8)

By now, the reader should be well aware of the fact that discrepancies and contradictions existed in the Pentateuch’s various genealogies because many of them were doublets—similar genealogical lists from two once separate traditions that were brought together by a later editorial endeavor. We have already seen examples of this (#7-10, #20-21). It should come as little surprise then that in P’s genealogical list Lot is presented as the son of Abraham’s brother HaranRead More

#22. Were Shem’s, Ham’s, and Japhet’s children dispersed throughout the earth each by their different language OR was all the earth one language and Yahweh ‘babbled’ their language at Babylon? (Gen 10:5, 10:20, 10:31-32 vs Gen 11:1-9)

The function of the Table of Nations in chapter 10 is not only to provide us with Noah’s sons’ offspring, but more so, and particularly for P, to account for the origins of the then known peoples and languages of the inhabitable world. Thus P’s explanation for the origin of the different languages that make up the peoples of the world is in stark opposition to J’s version which is rendered inRead More

#20. Who were Cush’s children: Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah, and Sabteca OR Nimrod also? (Gen 10:7 vs Gen 10:8)
#21. Who was the father of S(h)eba and Havilah: Cush OR Joktan? (Gen 10:7 vs Gen 10:26-29)

There are a number of inconsistencies in the genealogical list(s) of chapter 10, often referred to as the Table of Nations because the names are used eponymously by their authors to designate various geographies and/or ethnicities. These inconsistencies result from the fact that the Table of Nations incorporates material from both J and P. In other words, chapter 10 is a mishmash of JP material: P’s genealogy includes verses 1-7, 20, 22-23, andRead More

#19. Yahweh promises never to curse the ground again or Yahweh does curse the ground again? (Gen 8:21 vs Is 24:1-6; Zeph 1:3, 18)

And Yahweh said in his heart: “I will not curse the ground again on account of man; for the inclination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; and I will not strike all the living again.” (Gen 8:21) The ending of J’s flood narrative leaves us with a startling revelation—nothing was resolved by wiping out the human race with a flood! The reason given for the cataclysmic event in theRead More

#14. Noah is commanded to gather 7 pairs of clean animals OR only 2 of each animal? (Gen 7:2 vs Gen 6:19-20, 7:8, 7:16)
#15. The flood lasts for 40 days and 40 nights OR 150 days? (Gen 7:4, 7:12, 8:6 vs Gen 7:24, 8:3)
#16. The flood starts 7 days after Noah enters the ark OR on the day Noah enters the ark? (Gen 7:7, 10 vs Gen 7:11-13)
#17. The flood is caused by rain OR the waters above and below the earth are unbound? (Gen 7:4, 7:12 vs Gen 7:11, 8:2)
#18. Noah lets out from the ark a series of doves (three) OR a raven once? (Gen 8:8-12 vs Gen 8:7)

Genesis’ flood narrative—or rather narratives—is the classic example used to illustrate how the Documentary Hypothesis works. There is little doubt that the narrative of Genesis 6:5-9:17 is a composite of two once separate flood stories. In other words, a later redactor has woven together two independent and different traditions of the flood narrative in an attempt to preserve them both. Yet unlike the two creation accounts where both traditions are preserved oneRead More

#13. Does Yahweh regret and change his mind OR does he not? (Gen 6:6-7; Ex 32:13-14; 1 Sam 2:30-31, 15:35; Amos 7:3; Jon 3:10 vs Num 23:19; 1 Sam 15:29; Mal 3:6)

“And Yahweh regretted that he had made mankind on the earth and he was grieved to his heart” (Gen 6:6). We have already discussed the Yahwist’s anthropomorphic portrait of Yahweh [or if you’ve missed it see: Conflicting portraits of Israel’s deity], so there is nothing surprising in this characterization of the deity in this verse. The Hebrew word, nehem, in this passage describes a change of heart or mind, and isRead More

#12. Yahweh limits the maximum age of man at 120 years OR man still lives longer than 120 years? (Gen 6:3 vs Gen 9:29, 11:10-26, etc.)

“And Yahweh said: ‘My spirit won’t stay in man forever, since they’re also flesh; and their days shall be a 120 years’” (Gen 6:3). The author of this text, the Yahwist, has Yahweh utter these words on account of the growing corruption on the face of the earth—the intermingling of the sons of god(s) and the daughters of man (6:1-4). Furthermore, the J source holds true to its portrait of anRead More

#11. When was the name Yahweh first invoked: in the earliest generations of man OR not till Moses at Sinai? (Gen 4:26, 12:8, 13:4, 15:7, etc. vs Ex 6:2-3)

This is a contradiction that you won’t find listed on your average, nor above average, contradictions in the Bible website; in fact, I doubt you’ll find it anywhere but here! It, like many of the ones to come, is only perceivable to those who have carefully studied the theologies of the various biblical authors. In fact, this is one in my long-list of favorites, because we start to see what the biblicalRead More

Stories from the North and the South

Stories were as much a part of the ancient world as the television is for us today. People told and heard stories on a daily basis. It was part of their lifeblood. Stories defined a people’s identity, explained the origins of current political and religious institutions, and preserved traditional beliefs, worldviews, and customs. Most stories enjoyed a long oral tradition before they were finally written down. In many cases alternative versionsRead More

#8. Who was the father of Lamech: Methushael OR Methuselah?
#9. Who was the father of Enoch: Cain OR Jared?
#10. How many antediluvian patriarchs were there: 8 OR 10?

Part of the Priestly redactor’s interpretive framework included the use of extensive genealogical lists, or records of generations, in Hebrew toledoth. These toledoth provide a structural unity and shape to the narrative arc of Genesis, and the Priestly redactor inserted them throughout the book of Genesis to transition from one story to the next, or from the end of one age or generation to the beginning of the next. Thus, theRead More

# 7. Who is Adam’s first son: Cain or Seth? (Gen 4:1 vs Gen 5:3)

“When Adam had lived 130 years, he became the father of a son in his likeness, according to his image, and named him Seth. The days of Adam after he became the father of Seth were 800 years; and he had other sons and daughters” (Gen 5:3-4). The genealogical list in Genesis 5:3-32 continues in the same manner as presented above. That is in each successive generation the antediluvian patriarch—Seth, Enosh,Read More

#6. Does man return to the dust upon his death OR is he resurrected? (Gen 3:19; Eccl 3:20; Job 14:10, 12, etc. vs Dan 12:2; 1 Thess 4:15-17; 1 Cor 15:22, 15:51-52; Acts 24:15; Mk 9:1; Jn 5:28-29, 6:40; Rev 2:7)

The axiom of Genesis 3:19, “for dust you are and to dust you shall return,” and similar statements in the Hebrew Bible a human is in no way better off than an animal. Everything goes to the same place: everything comes from the dust, and everything returns to the dust (Eccl 3:20) a human being, he dies and dead he remains (Job 14:10) a human being, once laid to rest will neverRead More

#5. Is the river Gihon in Ethiopia OR the outskirts of Jerusalem? (Gen 2:13 vs 2 Chr 32:30)

Two of the four named rivers of the mythic Eden—the Tigris, Euphrates, Pishon, and Gihon—are well known. Pishon, however, cannot be identified and Gihon, whose name means “gusher,” is given two very different geographical locations in the Bible. On the one hand, Genesis 2:13 informs us that Gihon circles the land of Cush, which is Ethiopia (Gen 10:6). 2 Chronicles 32:30, however, informs us that it was a river spring nearRead More

#4. Is the origin of the Sabbath to be found in God’s rest on the 7th day OR the manner in which Yahweh gave rest to the Hebrews when they were slaves in Egypt? (Gen 2:2-3; Ex 20:8-11 vs Deut 5:12-15)

The origins of the Sabbath are obscure; there are no contemporary parallels in ancient Near Eastern practices. On the other hand, the Bible gives two contradictory accounts for its origin. Both Genesis 2:2-3 and Exodus 20:8-11 claim that its origin is because for six days Yahweh made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and everything that is in them, and he rested on the seventh day. On account of this, Yahweh blessed theRead More

#3. Which god is the creator of the heavens and the earth: Yahweh OR El? (Gen 2:4b vs Gen 14:19)

Creation myths abound in just about every culture that has conceived of a national deity or deities. The ancient Near East is certainly no exception. A vast number of creation myths exist from ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Canaan.1 And many of these creation accounts display cross-fertilization of ideas and influences. This is especially true concerning the influence that both Canaan and ancient Mesopotamia exerted on Israelite culture and the emergence of itsRead More

#2. Did God create the heavens and earth from the formless deep OR did Yahweh create them from the slaying of the primaeval sea monster Leviathan/Rahab? (Gen 1:1-8 vs Ps 74:13-17, 89:11-13; Job 26:12-13)

The two creation accounts that open the book of Genesis, the Priestly and Yahwist, are not the only creation stories found in the Bible. A much older mythic tale is preserved in passages from the Psalms, the book of Job, and the Prophets. In fact, there are remarkably few references in the Bible to the Priestly creation account (which perhaps attests to its late date of composition), while conversely, there areRead More

#2. Does God create the skies and the earth, then plants, then animals, and then both male and female in his image OR does Yahweh first form man from the ground, then plants, then animals, and then lastly woman from man’s rib? (Gen 1:1-27 [P] vs Gen 2:4b-23 [J])
#3. Does God create the earth, the skies, and man on the same day OR not? (Gen 2:4b-7 [J] vs Gen 1:1-27 [P])
#4. Is earth initially created as fecund and fertile OR dry and barren? (Gen 1:9-10 [P] vs Gen 2:5 [J])
#5. Are both man and women created in the image of God OR is man formed from the ground, and women formed from man? (Gen 1:26-27 [P] vs Gen 2:7, 2:21-23 [J]; 1 Cor 11:9; 1 Tim 2:13)
#6. When is all the vegetation created: before the creation of the animals, and man and woman OR after the creation of man and before the creation of the animals and woman? (Gen 1:11-13, 1:29-30 [P] vs Gen 2:9-10 [J])
#7. Does God declare all vegetation and trees as food for the primordial pair OR does Yahweh command that one of the trees not be eaten from? (Gen 1:29-30 [P] vs Gen 2:17 [J])

The following entry is excerpted from Chapter 1, “Genesis’ Two Creation Accounts,” of  my Genesis 1 and the Creationism Debate: Being Honest to the Text, Its Author, and His Beliefs,  pp. 1-63. Ancient and modern readers alike have long recognized the differences between the seven-day creation account of Genesis 1:1-2:3 and the garden of Eden account of Genesis 2:4b-3:24. Even on stylistic grounds noticeable in an English translation, the first creationRead More