#1. Was earth created from preexistent matter OR nothing? (Gen 1:1-10; Is 45:18 vs Heb 11:3)?

Hebrews 11:3 is often invoked as a proof text for the doctrine of creatio ex nihilo. While some may wish to debate this reading, since the verse can be read as an abstract statement about faith, literally, “not from that which is visible did the things that are seen come into being,” I shall nevertheless treat it as if it did proclaim this doctrine. For this allows us the occasion toRead 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

#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

#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

#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

#63. Can a mortal see God face-to-face and live OR not? (Gen 16:13, 32:30; Ex 24:9-11, 33:11; Num 14:14; Deut 5:21, 34:10 vs Ex 33:20; John 1:18, 5:37; 1 Tim 6:16)

This is an oldie but a goodie as they say, and can be found on numerous other sites and throughout the literature. I will keep to my procedure of stressing that such contradictions are the result of an editorial process that brought together different textual traditions written over a period of 1,000 years, each expressing divergent and contradictory beliefs, worldviews, and theologies. In fact, contradictory traditions now preserved side-by-side in the Bible yieldRead More

#76. Was it 66 OR 70 OR 75 males from Jacob’s loins who came to Egypt? (Gen 46:26 vs Gen 46:27, Ex 1:5, Deut 10:22 vs Acts 7:14)

The passage in question is Genesis 46:8-27 which breaks from the narrative to offer yet another genealogy: “And these are the names of the children of Israel who came to Egypt…” We have seen elsewhere that such interest in genealogies, dates, and ages were evidence of the Priestly writer’s hand. Yet this passage also evidences editorial reworking, possibly even done by a scribal hand during the recopying of the manuscript. InRead More

#94. Does Yahweh make a person blind, deaf, or dumb OR does Beelzebub (Ex 4:11 vs Mk 1:34, 3:22, 5:9-13; Matt 9:33, 12:22, etc.)

“Who makes a person dumb or deaf, gives sight or makes blind? Is it not I, Yahweh!” Exodus 4:11, like other Old Testament passages, expresses a theological tenet shared by many of the authors of the Hebrew Bible—namely that Yahweh is sovereign. Other examples of this theological perspective can be found elsewhere. Here are just a couple examples: “Should evil befall a city and Yahweh has not done it?” (Amos 3:6)Read More

#118. Must one be circumcised to celebrate and eat the Passover OR not? (Ex 12:43-49 vs Deut 16:1-8; Gal 3-4)

Continuing with our discussion of the differences between the Priestly writer’s Passover account in Exodus 12 and that of Deuteronomy 16 (#117), we note that while nothing is said in Deuteronomy about circumcision, in the Priestly literature it is forbidden for an uncircumcised male to eat and partake of the Passover. And Yahweh said to Moses and Aaron: “This is the law of the Passover: Any foreigner shall not eat it.Read More

#136. Are the sins of the parents reckoned on their children to the third and fourth generation OR are sins reckoned to each offender only? (Ex 20:5, 34:7; Deut 5:9 vs Deut 24:16; Jr 31:29-30; Ez 18:2-4)

The notion of hereditary guilt runs throughout the Bible and was a common characteristic of most ancient societies. Exodus 20:5, for example, claims from the mouth of Yahweh himself that he is a jealous god, “reckoning fathers’ sins upon sons, on the third and on the fourth generation.” This theology of inherited sin is duplicated in the Deuteronomic version of the Ten Commandments (Deut 5:9), and is prominent throughout the DeuteronomicRead More

#143. If someone strikes you do you seek retribution per the law OR offer the other cheek as well? (Ex 21:12-24 vs Matt 5:39)

One who strikes a man and he dies, he shall be put to death! (Ex 21:12) And if there be any injury, then you shall give a life for a life, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a hand for a hand, a foot for a foot, a burn for a burn, a wound for a wound, a hurt for a hurt! (Ex 21:24) The lex talionis—theRead More

#146. Does Yahweh vindicate the guilty OR not? (Rom 3-4; Gal 3-5 vs Ex 23:7)

“For I shall not vindicate a guilty one!” (Ex 23:7) One of the many gaping theological contradictions between the Old and the New Testaments—between a culture and worldview which existed in the 1st half of the 1st millennium BC and one which existed in the 1st century AD—has to do with who Yahweh vindicates or accords righteousness to. As posted in an earlier entry (#6), Old Testament theology was constructed onRead More

#151. Does Yahweh dwell among the people, in the Temple OR not? (Ex 25:8, 29:45 vs Deut 12:11, 12:21; Acts 7:48)

“And they shall make me a holy place and I shall dwell among them.” (Ex 25:8; cf. Ex 29:45) One or the central and most important theological tenets of the Priestly theocracy was that Yahweh dwelt among the people, tented in the Tabernacle which was at the center of their camp. This theological conviction alone necessitated a strict ethical and ritual code that quickly expunged and expiated any impurities that cameRead More

#174. Sin can only be atoned through sacrifice OR not? (Lev 4-5; Num 15 vs Deut 4, 17, 23-24, 28; Gal 2-4; Rom 4-7)

There are significant differences, indeed contradictions, between the views and precepts of the Aaronid-led priestly guild who wrote the book of Leviticus and the Levite-led scribes who wrote the book of Deuteronomy. These are large sweeping theological differences that existed between ancient Israel’s rival priestly schools (see also #30, #151, #152, #153-154). The Priestly literature is centered around its most important cultic and theological institution: the Tabernacle. The sacrificial cult wasRead More

#183. Are certain foods impure/unclean and forbidden to eat OR not? (Lev 11; Deut 14 vs Mk 7:18-19; Rom 14:14; Acts 10:10-15)

I apologize for my rather long absence. It’s been a difficult time. But let us see if we can get back on track and finish up with the contradictions in Leviticus, and move into Numbers and Deuteronomy. In earlier posts, I discussed the sacrificial cult of the Aaronid priesthood as detailed throughout the book of Leviticus (#137-138, #148-149, #151, #152, #155, #174, #175, #178). In sum, sacrifices were necessitated (divinely decreedRead More

#184. Who can declare an individual “pure/clean”: the Aaronid priest OR Jesus? (Lev 12-15, 18-20 vs Mark 1:21-28; Luke 4:31-37; Mark 1:40-45; Matthew 8:1-4; Luke 5:12-16, etc.)

“And the priest shall identify him/her as pure.” As previously noted (#183), the whole belief system, social organization, and worldview created by the Aaronid priests who wrote the scrolls that eventually became the book of Leviticus were intricately constructed upon categories of pure and impure, and these categories were woven into, according to this priestly guild and its god, the very fabric of the cosmos itself, of its metaphysics, at itsRead More

#186. Is Yom Kipper (the Day of Atonement/Purification) an eternal law OR not? (Lev 16, 23:26-32 vs Deut 16:16; Rom 3; Gal 3; Heb 5-9)

The Priestly literature is the only corpus of texts in the Bible that prescribes as an eternal law, directly from Yahweh’s mouth, the festival of Yom Kipper—but see Ezekiel too, a text not incoincidentally also written by an Aaronid priest in exile. In fact, the priestly literature is the only corpus of texts in the Bible that commands certain sacrifices (#155), festivals (#109-110, #118), holy days (#171), covenants (#31), and otherRead More

#192. A wife who is guilty of aldutery must be put to death OR suffer the curse of bareness? (Lev 20:10; Deut 22:22; Gal 5:19-21; Rev 21:8 vs Num 5:11-31)

One of the Ten Commandments, preserved both in Exodus 20:14 (E) and Deuteronomy 5:17, is the prohibition against adultery: “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” But we actually have to wait until later textual traditions clarify what the punishment of this crime is. Here is what Deuteronomy and Leviticus have to say about the matter. If a man be found lying with a woman who is a husband’s wife, then the twoRead More

#222. Must one be pure for Passover OR not? (Num 9:9-11 vs Deut 16:1-8)
#223. Is the observance of Passover an eternal law OR not? (Ex 12:14-17; Lev 23:4-5 vs Gal 3-4)

As we have repeatedly seen already (#175, #178, #183, #184, #185, etc.) that concern for ritual and ethical purity was top priority for the Aaronid priesthood that penned the book of Leviticus and 75% of what is now the book of Numbers. Throughout Leviticus, and especially in those chapters devoted to its laws and commandments (Lev 11-22), the role of the Aaronid priests is repeatedly defined through the phrase “to distinguishRead More

#244. Can any and all sins be atoned/expiated OR only those sins which were committed inadvertently? (Matt 6:14; Jn 3:16, 5:24; Acts 10:43; Rom 3:22, 4:25; Gal 3:13, etc. vs Deut 21:1-9, Lev 4-5; Num 15:30-31; cf. 1 Cor 5; Matt 6:15, 12:31, 18:35, etc.)

This entry expands upon an earlier entry, contradiction #174: Can sin only be atoned through sacrifice or not?—a post that needs much amending itself. Here I will try to limit my remarks [Interjection: I failed at this task, my apologies. The post goes on and on and on. Hopefully there’s a little something for everyone here.] to, first, the different stance taken between unintentional and intentional sins as viewed by theRead More

#245. Is the Sabbath an eternal covenant decreed by Yahweh that must be kept under penalty of death OR not? (Ex 31:12-17, 35:2; Num 15:32-36; Matt 5:18-20 vs Acts 15:29; Rom 14:5-6; Gal 3:23-25, 4:9-10; Col 2:16)

All of the Torah’s Sabbath laws, including the account of its consecration as a holy day by God himself at creation (Gen 2:3), were penned by the same author or priestly guild!—what scholars have come to label as the Priestly source. Indeed the Sabbath itself has a much earlier origin than the writings of this 6th century BCE elite priestly guild. Thus the Sabbath is found in the earlier Yahwist andRead More

#254. Who can burn incense in front of Yahweh: only Aaronids OR not? (Ex 30:7; Num 17:5; 1 Chr 23:13; 2 Chr 26:16-19; Lk 1:8-11 vs Deut 33:10; 1 Sam 2:28; 1 Kgs 9:25)

The message endorsed through the tale of Korah’s rebellion in Numbers 16-17—that only the Aaronid priests can offer incense to Yahweh and only at Yahweh’s altar—is yet but another story in a long list meant to legitimate the Aaronid’s sole right to minister to Yahweh. We have now seen in this Aaronid written text, the Priestly source, “Yahweh” endorse: the sole selection of the Aaronids as his priests, while at theRead More

#255. Where is Aaron’s budding rod placed: in front of the Ark of Testimony OR in it? (Num 17:25 vs Heb 9:4)

There appears to be conflating traditions concerning where Aaron’s budding rod was relegated. In the Priestly narrative of Numbers 17, Aaron’s budding rod is set in front of the Ark of Testimony before Yahweh’s throne seat (#159; #226) to serve as “a sign to rebels.” But when the author of Hebrews six centuries later duplicates this tradition while speaking of the first Temple, he places Aaron’s budding rod in the Ark!Read More

#259. Are the dead impure OR not? (Lev 21:11; Num 19:11-16 vs Mk 5:36-41, 15:46; Matt 9:23-27; Lk 8:41-49; Acts 9:37, etc.)

I’ve long wished to examine the competing if not radically contradictory views on the dead (i.e., a dead body, corpse) between the Priestly writer and later New Testament writers. The problem is finding specific verses in the New Testament that do contradict P’s rather clear and inflexible stance on the dead, specifically as it comes through in Numbers 19. Nonetheless, even if my choice of NT verses in this contradiction areRead More

#291. Does Balaam wish to curse Israel and is prevented by Yahweh OR does he not wish to curse Israel? (Deut 23:5-6; Josh 24:9-10; Neh 13:2; 2 Pet 2:15; Jude 1:11; Rev 2:14 vs Num 22:22-35)

The narrative of Numbers 22-24 never presents nor implies that Balaam wishes to harm or curse Israel. To the contrary, Balaam is presented as a loyal vassal of Yahweh, and when on three separate occasions Balak asks Balaam to pronounce curses upon Israel, Balaam refuses saying that he can only utter that which his god—Yahweh—has placed in his own mouth. Indeed, Balaam even refers to Yahweh as “my god,” which mightRead More

#299. Does Yahweh make an eternal covenant with the Aaronid priesthood via Phinehas OR with the Levitical priesthood in general OR with only the Zadokite line OR with the Davidic line OR with Jesus Christ via Melchizedek? (Num 25:6-13 vs Deut 18:1-5, 33:8-10; 1 Sam 2:28; Jer 33:18-22; Mal 2:4 vs 1 Sam 2:35; Ezek 40:46, 43:19, 44:15-16 vs Ps 110:4 vs Heb 7:11-25)

As a collection of diverse writings spanning roughly a thousand years, the Bible itself bears witness to the internecine priestly rivalries that plagued ancient Israel, and in one case even extended into the Christian era. And as is apparent from this entry’s title, each of these competing priestly guilds wrote a text whose purpose was to legitimate their guild’s right to be Yahweh’s sole anointed priests forever. In this rather lengthyRead More

#314. Is Balaam responsible for the Baal Peor apostasy OR not? (Num 31:16; Rev 2:14 vs Num 22-24, 25:1-19)

Numbers 31:16 is the only verse in the Hebrew Bible that attributes the apostasy of Baal Peor to Balaam’s doing. Indeed, we have already seen in an earlier contradiction (#297-298) how the later Priestly writer inserted the Midianites into a solely Moabite affair in their retelling of the earlier Yahwist version of the Baal Peor incident (Num 25:1-5). Numbers 31:16, however, presents another contradictory layer—that it was Balaam’s doing, that itRead More