Thursday, 28 April 2011

Mike Licona – Are There Contradictions In The Gospels?

We have all heard of the Gospel contradictions Professor Bart Ehrman regularly presents in his speeches/debates. I was planning to excerpt from Geza Vermes’ detailing of the “flat contradictions between the sources [Gospels]” concerning the resurrection accounts from his book (The Resurrection) and thought it would be beneficial and fair to bring forward a Christian scholar, Mike Licona, to discuss the wider topic of contradictions within the Gospels so we can hear the evangelical Christian refutation/response.

It was astonishing to note Mike Licona, despite being one of the most respected Christian apologists around, was offering very little to counter the flat out contradictions within the Gospels.

Not even Licona can defend the indefensible though he does state for a lot of the contradictions there are easy answers and for others the answers are more complex.

Video description reads: Bart Ehrman contends that the Gospels are unreliable because they contain contradictions. Mike Licona answers.

This segment is an edited version of a 4-part video series. An HD version with discussion questions for groups may be downloaded FREE at

Amongst the contradictions Mike Licona mentions:

-Was Jesus “crucified” on the day of the Passover meal or the day after?

- Was Jesus “crucified” at 9 am or noon?

- Did Jesus carry the cross all the way or part of the way?

- Did both thieves curse Jesus or just one?

- How many women went to the tomb? One or more than one?

- How many angels were seen – one or two?

- Did Jesus appear to the disciples in Jerusalem or Galilee

Amazingly, Licona – though being a Biblical Inerrantist – puts forward the idea if there were irreconcilable contradictions between the Gospel accounts, the Gospels could still be trustworthy despite the contradictions. I don’t agree – if they contain irreconcilable contradictions (which they do) then doubt must be shed on the reliability of the Gospels on matters such as the crucifixion and the resurrection. You can’t simply accept the contradictions and maintain the validity of the accounts of alleged events which are dear to you due to your theological presuppositions.

Licona catches Ehrman out…

Licona points out an inconsistency on the part of Professor Bart Ehrman. Ehrman believes the crucifixion is one of the most certain facts in history whilst simultaneously believing the Gospels are unreliable. Ehrman is inconsistent here. Sadly, Christians generally ignore this in their clamber to quote mine from Professor Bart Ehrman in order to lend their belief in a crucifixion support from hostile scholarship.

Mike Licona misses the point

Licona highlights a contradiction between eye-witnesses of the sinking of the Titanic in his attempt to illustrate peripheral contradictions have no bearings on the bigger picture. Uh, the contradictions within the Gospels do not remain mere peripheral contradictions when we look at the bigger picture – the theological picture.

His comparison is fallacious. How in the world can Mike Licona simply accept/ignore the contradictions whilst believing the Gospels are inspired by God. Is he saying God inspired men to contradict each other and author confusion?

Licona can draw fallacious comparisons between eye witness testimony of the Titanic and the authors of the Gospels until the cows come home – the comparison will always be fallacious for two main reasons:

1.The gospels are alleged to have been “inspired” by God yet contain clear contradictions. The eye witness accounts of the Titanic are not alleged to have been “inspired” by God.

2. The Titanic survivors would have been in a state of shock and fright – thus peripheral contradictions are excused. What excuse do the Gospel writers have for contradicting each other?

The Bible verse which refutes the “resurrection”



Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

I don't know Bro, these "multiple readings" don't sound as problematic as the variants in the Sana codex of the Qur'an! Too bad the Yemeni are too scared to let us do more research!


M.R. said...

101 Clear

Contradictions in the Bible

by : Shabir Ally
Al-Attique Int'l Islamic Publications

Quran Recitation Page Lessons & Lectures The Right Way to Pray Books & Articles

Who incited David to count the fighting men of Israel?

(a) God did (2 Samuel 24: 1)

(b) Satan did (I Chronicles 2 1:1)

In that count how many fighting men were found in Israel?

(a) Eight hundred thousand (2 Samuel 24:9)

(b) One million, one hundred thousand (IChronicles 21:5)

How many fighting men were found in Judah?

(a) Five hundred thousand (2 Samuel 24:9)

(b) Four hundred and seventy thousand (I Chronicles 21:5)

God sent his prophet to threaten David with how many years of famine?

(a) Seven (2 Samuel 24:13)

(b) Three (I Chronicles 21:12)

How old was Ahaziah when he began to rule over Jerusalem?

(a) Twenty-two (2 Kings 8:26)

(b) Forty-two (2 Chronicles 22:2)

How old was Jehoiachin when he became king of Jerusalem?

(a) Eighteen (2 Kings 24:8)

(b) Eight (2 Chronicles 36:9)

How long did he rule over Jerusalem?

(a) Three months (2 Kings 24:8)

(b) Three months and ten days (2 Chronicles 36:9)

The chief of the mighty men of David lifted up his spear and killed how many men at one time?

(a) Eight hundred (2 Samuel 23:8)

(b) Three hundred (I Chronicles 11: 11)

When did David bring the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem? Before defeating the Philistines or after?

(a) After (2 Samuel 5 and 6)

(b) Before (I Chronicles 13 and 14)

How many pairs of clean animals did God tell Noah to take into the Ark?

(a) Two (Genesis 6:19, 20)

(b) Seven (Genesis 7:2). But despite this last instruction only two pairs went into the ark (Genesis 7:8-9)

When David defeated the King of Zobah, how many horsemen did he capture?

(a) One thousand and seven hundred (2 Samuel 8:4)

(b) Seven thousand (I Chronicles 18:4)

How many stalls for horses did Solomon have?

(a) Forty thousand (I Kings 4:26)

(b) Four thousand (2 chronicles 9:25)

In what year of King Asa's reign did Baasha, King of Israel die?

(a) Twenty-sixth year (I Kings 15:33 - 16:8)

(b) Still alive in the thirty-sixth year (2 Chronicles 16:1)

How many overseers did Solomon appoint for the work of building the temple?

(a) Three thousand six hundred (2 Chronicles 2:2)

(b) Three thousand three hundred (I Kings 5:16)

Solomon built a facility containing how many baths?

(a) Two thousand (1 Kings 7:26)

(b) Over three thousand (2 Chronicles 4:5)

Of the Israelites who were freed from the Babylonian captivity, how many were the children of Pahrath-Moab?

(a) Two thousand eight hundred and twelve (Ezra 2:6)

(b) Two thousand eight hundred and eighteen (Nehemiah 7:11)

How many were the children of Zattu?

(a) Nine hundred and forty-five (Ezra 2:8)

(b) Eight hundred and forty-five (Nehemiah 7:13)

How many were the children of Azgad?

(a) One thousand two hundred and twenty-two (Ezra 2:12)

(b) Two thousand three hundred and twenty-two (Nehemiah 7:17)

How many were the children of Adin?

(a) Four hundred and fifty-four (Ezra 2:15)

(b) Six hundred and fifty-five (Nehemiah 7:20)

How many were the children of Hashum?

(a) Two hundred and twenty-three (Ezra 2:19)

(b) Three hundred and twenty-eight (Nehemiah 7:22)

Anonymous said...

Mike Licona seemed to have contradicted himself, regarding his position on Biblical Inerrancy.

In his 1st public debate with Ehrman, towards the end, he claimed to be a Biblical Inerrantist.
See here:

In his 2nd debate with Ehrman, Licona indirectly admitted he's not a Biblical Inerrantist by saying:

"That's why you do have some of the DISCREPANCIES, like the day Jesus was crucified. I think that John probably ALTERED THE DAY in order for a theological, to make a theological point there." {13:06-13:17 -}.

Later on, Licona went back to where he first started by stating he see's no direct contradictions in the Gospels {2:33-2:36 -}.

However, in his 2nd debate in Ehrman, he already admitted that the day of crucifixion is a discrepancy.

All this talk about contradictions may be a reason why Licona contardicted himself.

Their standards and methodologies are weaker than ours, ie contradicts matter to us, transmission of text, etc, because they can then accept what they want to.