Friday, 7 November 2014

Are there Contradictions in the Gospels?

I go up to a group of guys and tell them I have a new car. I tell them it has four wheels, five doors, and five seats. I don't show it to them, I just tell them these three things.

They each go off and write about my car.

First guy says the car has four wheels, five seats, an engine, and two cupholders.

Second guy says the car has four wheels, five doors, it's green, and has windscreen wipers.

Third guy says it has four wheels, five seats, one cupholder, and it's red.

What does this tell us?
All three guys say it has four wheels. Let's believe that.
Two guys say it has five seats. The second guy doesn't mention seats at all. No contradiction there, so let's trust it.
The second guy is the only one to repeat that it has five doors. Five doors is very consistent with five seats. Might as well trust that. No reason to not believe it.
First guy says it has an engine. He's the only one that mentioned it. But it's a car. It goes without saying that it has an engine. Let's believe that.
Same with the second guy and his windscreen wipers. Most cars have them, so yeah why not?
Now it gets tricky. First guy says two cupholders, third guy says one. If the first guy is right, the second guy is sort of right. There is one cupholder, but there's also another one. So it's a little bit up in the air. We can believe that there was some amount of cupholders but can't agree exactly how many. Either way, if there aren't any cupholders, there could still be a car. A car doesn't need cupholders to be a car. It's an added unnecessary extra.
Finally, the second guy says green, the third guy says red. Well that's a contradiction. Our only information about the colour are these two sources. They don't agree. Can you get a greenish red? Maybe it's that. Or again, like with the cupholders, the colour doesn't affect it being a car. A car can be any colour. I didn't mention any colour to them anyway.

We know that there are wheels, doors, seats, and an engine and that's all we need to know there is a car. The other stuff might be a bit messy, but we get the main message.

Just in case you didn't get the analogy:

The wheels, doors, and seats of the Gospels are:
Jesus' message.
Jesus' crucifixion.
The resurrection.
The empty tomb.
The appearances of Jesus to his disciples after he rose again.
The growth of the faith.

All the other minor details are windscreen wipers and cupholders.