Does The Bible Contradict Itself

Does The Bible Contradict Itself?

The Bible is more than just an ancient text that serves as an important spiritual source for many religions, it is also a large source of ongoing debate and scrutiny about its own consistency in terms of beliefs and stories. The question on whether or not The Bible contradicts itself is a subject that has long been actively researched, discussed, and argued amidst religious and non-religious communities alike.

One of the most arguments regarding The Bible and its ability to remain internally consistent relates to the stories and accounts detailed throughout it’s pages. Numerous stories are spread throughout The Bible — from the creation of the earth to the story of Noah – that continue to be interpreted in a myriad of ways according to individual beliefs. Believers of The Bible cite these stories as an undeniable source of truth, yet skeptics challenge the plausibility of them. As the interpretations of each individual story vary drastically, it can be argued that there is a certain degree of contradictory evidence present which points towards the Bible’s lack of cohesion.

Another debate that is often considered when analyzing The Bible in regards to its internal consistency concerns the different accounts of Jesus. Historically, many claim that they can understand and connect with Jesus as a figure, yet cannot agree on what it is in which he is supposed to be engaging with. Although, it could be argued that it is the interpretations of each individual’s beliefs that interfere with which parts of the Bible he or she wishes to take as true and which parts are to be disregarded, this further establishes the notion that The Bible contains different accounts that can be seen as contradictory.

One of the main issues with religious texts such as The Bible is that the beliefs and truths of the text can be inherently linked to one’s experiences with the religion in which the text is based. Religion, as a practice, covers such a large scope of interpretations, that it can be quite difficult to come to an agreement on specifics. This can be seen as one of the main reasons as to why The Bible may seem to contradict itself, as so many view it in different ways. Therefore, it could be argued that it is the interpretations of the Bible, along with the multiple versions of it, that lead to disagreements and different views within the large community it serves.

A number of experts in the field of religion continue to debate the issue of Bible competence and its internal consistency. Dr. Lawrence E. Sullivan, professor of Jewish-Christian Studies at Boston College and former director of the Center for Christian-Jewish Learning, has dedicated much of his life to exploring why The Bible seems to contradict itself. His initial studies concluded that “The Bible is written with a transcending human language and its meaning exceeds the human boundaries of understanding.” He further explains that “Each text has its own inherent history, which would explain why one may accept one part of the Bible over another when the interpretation is justifiable.” His studies come to the conclusion that The Bible contains levels of contradiction that exist within the interpretations of each reader.

Different Versions of The Bible

Although some argue that its abundance of different interpretations is what makes The Bible prone to self-contradictions, others point out the fact that there are numerous versions of The Bible itself. For example, some may argue that The King James Bible holds a higher importance due to its ties to authority, while the Catholic version of The Bible is seen to be more suitable for those of faith, which then furthers the issue of interpretation. Despite being based upon the same sources, the contrast between the two versions is what creates the illusion of contradictions, when there may not be any in reality.

Common misunderstandings often arise due to mistranslations occurring in older versions of the Biblical text. For example, the NIV bible translates a biblical passage from the prophet Joel “in those days and at that time”, while other older translations say “in the last days”. This slight difference can give the impression that the passage is contradictory, when it is really just an inaccurate translation.

There are also instances where The Bible presents facts as if they were authored in the present rather than centuries ago, leading readers to misinterpret changes in events and practices as Bible inconsistencies. While it is possible that there may be contradictions in The Bible, it is more likely that this is due to external influences such as mistranslation or misinterpretation of the text, rather than internal sources.

Religious Influences

It is not only the cumulative versions of The Bible itself that can lead to discrepancies or contradictions, but also the religious influences that aim to dictate the way in which certain parts of The Bible are interpreted. For example, some non-religious organizations are known to criticize certain aspects of The Bible, such as the stories of Noah and the Garden of Eden, which can lead to different interpretations and beliefs than those of devout Bible readers.

Organized religion itself has a significant influence on the way in which The Bible is understood, not only due to the organizations providing a platform for collective belief, but in many cases, also due to the organization providing its own interpretation of it. Organizations may go as far as to use specific passages from The Bible to not only prove a certain point, but to add certain spin to it which, once taken out of context, could be seen as a contradiction to other passages.

At the same time, religion can be a source of comfort and of understanding and therefore can be used to strengthen everyone’s individual interpretations of the Bible. Due to its practice by various religious organizations and by individuals alike, it is argued that religion allows for each and every person to have their own individualized understanding of the very same Holy Text, with no division being set amongst those who share the exact same religious beliefs.


Humans have long been the authors of much religious dialogue, and this is far from an exception when it comes to The Bible. As with any other human-authored project, errors and inaccuracies are to be expected in either the writing or the transmission of said writings. It is also quite common for such errors to cause misinterpretations and miscommunications, leading to The Bible being viewed as contradictory by some.

The Bible itself is not a perfect text, and when exposed to the environment of religious dialogue, can often be interpreted differently than its authors intended. Despite their best efforts, the initial authors may have made a mistake in their writing or assuming certain assumptions when phrasing their texts, thus leading to confusion when they come into contact with certain religious interpretations.

The dogmatic approaches used by religious organizations to interpret The Bible can often hinder the true meaning of certain passages being shared amongst its followers, which is another major factor when considering the arguments of The Bible being internally inconsistent.

Evolution of New Interpretations

Throughout its vast history, The Bible has been subject to many forms of re-interpretation, primarily due to its ever-evolving nature. This is often seen when considering the various religious texts authored by different religions which are based off the same source material, the Bible.

Oftentimes the different translations of The Bible will be drastically different due to certain authors wishing to incorporate their own meanings into it – adding emphasis or a bias in certain parts of The Bible along with ignoring or taking other passages out of context.

In addition to its interpretations, certain laws and beliefs of The Bible may have been outdated or completely changed since its initial authorship, including new translations of the text itself. As religious practices evolve, traditional rules may be changed, or in some cases abandoned, ultimately leading to disagreements in The Bible’s internal consistency.

Time and Discussions

The debates concerning its cohesiveness continue to rage on and will no doubt continue in the years to come. With the combination of scientific advancement, religious practices, and its overall ancient age, some are bound to see The Bible as an inherently ‘incoherent’ text while others may view it as a timeless source of spiritual guidance and individualized understanding.

Ultimately, we may never be able to answer the question of whether or not The Bible contradicts itself, but it can serve as an important starting point for discussion and understanding between individuals when it comes to religion, faith, and even life.

Marcos Reyna is a Christian author and speaker. He is dedicated to helping create disciples of Christ through spreading the power of the gospel to others. He has written several books and articles on a variety of theological topics, including matters of faith, worship, biblical studies, practical ethics, and social justice. A trained theologian and devotee of spiritual writing, Marcos has a mission to spread Christian love everywhere. He lives with his family in Nashville, TN where he spends his days encouraging others to seek Christ's grace in all things.

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