Does the Bible contradict itself? Have the words of Jesus been tampered with?

There is no reason to believe that we do not have the real message of Jesus Christ.  First of all, we have existing manuscripts from less than one hundred years after the death of Jesus, which in historical terms, is like a news flash.  Our best texts on Alexander the Great are several hundred years after his death, so comparatively our documentation evidence of the Bible is outstanding.  Second, it is unreasonable to assume that Jesus spoke only Hebrew.  It is much more reasonable to think that at the very least, He was conversant in Koine Greek (His upbringing in Galilee, an area traveled by Greek merchants, almost guarantees it).  He was also definitely familiar with Aramaic (He is quoted speaking Aramaic twice in the New Testament).  Therefore, He could probably speak in all three languages.  It is important to remember that, in Jesus’ time, Hebrew was used more commonly in intellectual arenas and in the temple, not in common usage.  Common language at the time was in Greek or Aramaic.

As far as Bible contradictions go, there have been plenty of reasonable explanations given for seeming contradictions.  Many of these misunderstandings arise from textual difficulties and mistranslations that come about because of translating Middle Eastern thoughts and speech into Western English.  It is always best to study the Bible based on the context in which it was written.

To give a great example, consider Mark 2:25-27.  Jesus claimed that David ate the bread of the temple at the time “in the days of Abiathar the High Priest.”  We all know that when that happened, Ahimelech was the High Priest.  Does that make Jesus confused?  No, and here is why. Remember the context of the passage.  Jesus was speaking to Pharisees who were basing their interpretations of the law in scripture.  Jesus not referring to the actual point in time when Abiathar was High Priest.  At this time, 1 and 2 Samuel and 1 and 2 Kings were all combined together into a large grouping entitled 1-4 Kingdoms.  Rather than pointing the Pharisees to a particular point in time, He is instead referring to the section of the scripture in this rather large and unwieldy piece of history during the lifetime of Abiathar, who was serving in the temple with Ahimelech and who fled with David.  Therefore, it is best to render this “in the passage of scripture concerning the time of Abiathar.”

It is important for us to recognize that cultural differences can impair the way we read scripture and realize that we must account for some differences in culture.  Only then can we really get everything out of scripture that we are supposed to.

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