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Agnostic Testimony 13
Dan’s Religious Manifesto (page 5)

by Daniel Hendricks

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There are all sorts of web sites that go into the thousand of little inconsistencies in the various texts of the bible, but the specifics really aren’t all that important.  The key bit is that there are dozens, if not hundreds of them.  Different books give different answers.  Feel free to look them up, if you feel the minutia will help.  I personally just remember one or two favorites (see above paragraph) and that’s good enough.  You only need one example of something being wrong to show that it is not perfect.

New Testament

Now, the new testament basically comes right out and tells you that it’s not literally true by having four people tell the same story, with major differences in all stories, with little things from whether a fig tree withered immediately or by the next morning when cursed by Jesus, or, rather maybe the whole thing was just a parable,[1] to bigger things, like Joseph’s ancestry (and why do we care anyway if he’s not really related to Jesus), who visited Jesus’ tomb on Easter morning[5], and what Jesus’ last words were.[2]  Frankly, it’s logically impossible to look at this and say the Bible is literally true.  The common Fundamentalist response is that the Gospels were written by different people who each saw/heard/remembered different portions of the same event, like four different people watching a traffic accident from four different angles.  However, this doesn’t really solve the problems of inconsistency, particularly since most of the Gospels were written several generations after the events within them.

To me, it frankly looks like a tall tale in the making:

Mark was written first.  It seems more to insinuate that Jesus was human, but that he ascended to heaven and lived as a prophet of God.  His miracles don’t always work on the first try[8], and sometimes take a bit to go into effect.  In the story of Jesus cursing a fig tree, Mark has the tree withering the next morning while Matthew has it withering instantly.  Mark also often described Jesus as healing “many”, though when the same event was described by Luke or Matthew, they changed it to “all”[9].  At the end of the Gospel, passive voice indicates that Jesus didn’t necessarily bring himself back from the grave, but that God did.  Mark was also a lot more inclusive.  Whereas Mark quoted Jesus as saying "For he who is not against us is for us."[4], Matthew and Luke say “He who is not with me is against me.”[3] This is a major change in mindset.  Additionally, in Acts it says "Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs which God did through him in your midst . . . you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless man . . . This Jesus God raised up, and of that we are all witnesses . . . Let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified."[7]  Which seems pretty strongly worded that Jesus was initially a normal human, which would be a reason to give Joseph’s ancestry.

Matthew came second.  He also leaned towards Jesus being born, but then became divine.  He cut anything that made miracles seem less impressive (i.e. the fig tree withered immediately, and no miracle ever required multiple attempts) Matthew is a bit fuzzier on who brought Jesus back from the dead, it could go either way.  Matthew and Luke also each include a list of Joseph’s lineage, though they disagree on a lot of the names, and the numbers of generations.[10]

continued on next page


1 Mark 11:12-21, Matt 21:18-22 & Luke 13:6-7 2 Mark 15:33-37, Matt 27:46-50, Luke 23:44-46 & John 19:29-30 3 Luke 11:23, Matt 12:30 4 Mark 9:40 5 Matt 28:1-9 & John 20:1-18 6 Mark 16:1-14 7 Acts 2:22-36 8 Mark 8:23-25 9 Mark 1:34, Matt 8:16 & Luke 4:40 as well as Mark 3:10 and Matt 12:15 10 Luke 3:23-38 and Matt 1:1-16