Peter’s Denial: A Case Study

by Elisabeth Strout

Many lists of Biblical contradictions fail to convince readers, as many may be written off with the “inclusive” explanation (i.e. Matthew and Mark recount Jesus’ last words as being “my God, my God why have you forsaken me”, Luke claims they were “into thy hands I commit my spirit”, while John says they were “it is finished”, and Christians generally claim that Jesus said all three in succession, “my God, my God why have you forsaken me, into your hands I commit my spirit, it is finished”.), but there are some narratives that cannot be reconciled, no matter how you superimpose them.

Rather than posting them all here at once and leave readers floundering in all the references, I’ll start with a case study of one particular event, namely Peter’s denial of Christ. While the wording differs insignificantly between the three questioners who point Peter out, that is not primarily of interest. Take a look at Matthew and Luke’s accounts, which are almost identical, and then compare them with John, and then Mark, and notice the incompatible details:

Matthew 26:69-75

  • All disciples flee upon Jesus’ arrest, Peter follows at a distance.

  • A servant girl in the courtyard says, “You also were with Jesus the Galilean,” Peter responds, “I do not  know what you mean”.

  • different servant girl at the gate says, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth,” Peter responds with an oath, “I do not know the man”.

  • The bystanders say, “Certainly you are one of them, your accent betrays you,” Peter responds again with an oath, “I do not know the man.”

  • The rooster crows, Peter remembers Jesus’ prediction, and weeps bitterly.

Mark 14:66-72

  • All disciples flee upon Jesus’ arrest, Peter follows at a distance.
  • A servant girl at the fire in the courtyard says, “You also were with the Nazarene, Jesus,” Peter responds, “I neither know nor understand what you mean.”
  • Peter goes out to the gate and the rooster crows.
  • The same servant girl sees him there and says, “This man is one of them,” and Peter denies it.
  • The bystanders say, “Certainly you are one of them, for you are a Galilean,” Peter responds with an oath, “I do not know this man of whom you speak.”
  • The rooster crows a second time, Peter remembers Jesus’ prediction, and weeps bitterly.

Luke 22:55-62

  • Jesus is arrested (no mention made of disciples fleeing), Peter follows at a distance.

  • A servant girl in the courtyard says, “This man also was with him,” Peter responds, “Woman, I do not know him.”

  • Another person says, “You also are one of them,” Peter responds, “Man, I am not.”

  • Another person says, “Certainly this man also was with him, for he too is a Galilean,” Peter responds, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.”

  • The rooster crows, Peter remembers Jesus’ prediction, and weeps bitterly.

John 18:15-27

  • Jesus is arrested (no mention made of disciples fleeing), Peter and another disciple follow. The other disciple gets into the courtyard because he knows an official. Peter doesn’t get into the courtyard, so the disciple sends a servant girl to open the gate for him.

  • The servant girl at the gate says, “You also are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?” and Peter responds, “I am not.”

  • The officers and servants around the fire in the courtyard say, “You also are not one of his disciples, are you?” and Peter responds again, “I am not.”

  • A relative of the man whose ear Peter cut off asks, “Did I not see you in the garden with him?” and Peter denies it.

  • The rooster crows (no mention is made of his weeping).

So now, apart from the general wording and the location of the questioners (he goes from courtyard to gate in Matt., and from gate to courtyard in John), we have several distinct differences. First, the identity of the following disciples. Matt. claims all the disciples fled except Peter, and Peter alone followed from a distance. John makes no mention of the disciples fleeing, and claims both Peter and another disciple followed. Typical of John, the other disciple remains anonymous leaving Christians to speculate that it was probably John himself. Either way, either they all fled except Peter, or they all fled except Peter and John. It can’t be both.

Secondly is the identity of Peter’s three accusers…

Matthew identifies them as:

(1) a servant girl in the courtyard
(2) a different servant girl at the gate
(3) the bystanders [identified in John as officials and servants]

Mark claims they were:

(1) a servant girl in the courtyard
(2) the same servant girl at the gate
(3) the bystanders

 Luke lists them as:

(1) a servant girl in the courtyard
(2) an unidentified man
(3) someone else

 And finally John claims they were

(1) a servant girl at the gate
(2) the bystanders
(3) a relative of the man whose ear Peter cut off

So while all four gospels agree on the identity of the first questioner – a servant girl – they all differ on the second one. Was it the same servant girl (Matt.)? Was it a different one (Mark)? Was it a man (Luke)? Or was it the group of officials and servants (John)?

And what about the third of Peter’s accusers? Was it the group of officials and servants, recognizing Peter’s Galilean accent, as Matt. and Mark claim? Or was it a relative of the man whose ear he cut off, recognizing him from their earlier encounter in the garden, as John claims? It can’t be both.

Finally, we come to Mark’s account, which has yet another notable difference. While agreeing with Matthew about all the disciples fleeing except Peter, and the third question from the bystanders about Peter being Galilean, there are a few details that don’t match up.

There is yet another notable aberration in Mark’s gospel, namely the number of times the rooster crows, both during the event, and in Jesus’ prior prediction of the event. While Peter is told he will deny three times, and does deny three times, in all accounts, Jesus predicts it will be “before the rooster crows”, in Matt., Luke, and John, and “before the rooster crows twice”, in Mark. And sure enough, in Matt., Luke and John, Peter denies thrice before the rooster crows, while in Mark, he denies, the rooster crows, he denies twice more, and the rooster crows again. Some copyists must have noticed this contradiction, because you’ll find a footnote in Mark 14:68, saying some manuscripts omit the first crowing. So which was it, before the rooster crows, or before it crows twice? It can’t be both.

It seems like a silly, insignificant story. Same servant girl or different one, courtyard or gate, bystanders or relative, all but one disciple or all but two disciples, Galilean accent or previous encounter in the garden, one crow or two; does it really matter?

For the Christians who claim the Bible is inerrant, there’s not a single contradiction in the entire Bible, it does matter. A contradiction is a contradiction, no matter how insignificant. For the more reasonable Christians who openly admit that the Bible is ancient, it contains occasional slip-ups or discrepancies, but nothing major that affects doctrine, their intellectual honesty is refreshing, but it begs the question, can God’s divine revelation be anything less than perfect?

When God sends a final text for all of mankind, shouldn’t it be held to the same standards of holiness and perfection as He himself? Others maintain that as God’s Word incarnate, Jesus himself was the final revelation, and it’s his person that matters, not the text. Yet the text is all we have of him today, and if it contradicts itself, if it can’t be trusted to deliver the truth about the small events, how can we trust its claims about matters as weighty as death and resurrection?

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Comments

  • Ric  On February 4, 2013 at 8:21 am

    Reblogged this on الله أحد.

  • Oliver Elphick  On February 4, 2013 at 10:12 am

    We affirm that canonical Scripture should always be interpreted on the basis that it is infallible and inerrant. However, in determining what the God-taught writer is asserting in each passage, we must pay the most careful attention to its claims and character as a human production. In inspiration, God utilized the culture and conventions of His penman’s milieu, a milieu that God controls in His sovereign providence; it is misinterpretation to imagine otherwise.

    So history must be treated as history, poetry as poetry, hyperbole and metaphor as hyperbole and metaphor, generalization and approximation as what they are, and so forth. Differences between literary conventions in Bible times and in ours must also be observed: since, for instance, non-chronological narration and imprecise citation were conventional and acceptable and violated no expectations in those days, we must not regard these things as faults when we find them in Bible writers. When total precision of a particular kind was not expected nor aimed at, it is no error not to have achieved it. Scripture is inerrant, not in the sense of being absolutely precise by modern standards, but in the sense of making good its claims and achieving that measure of focused truth at which its authors aimed.

    The truthfulness of Scripture is not negated by the appearance in it of irregularities of grammar or spelling, phenomenal descriptions of nature, reports of false statements (e.g., the lies of Satan), or seeming discrepancies between one passage and another. It is not right to set the so-called “phenomena” of Scripture against the teaching of Scripture about itself. Apparent inconsistencies should not be ignored. Solution of them, where this can be convincingly achieved, will encourage our faith, and where for the present no convincing solution is at hand we shall significantly honor God by trusting His assurance that His Word is true, despite these appearances, and by maintaining our confidence that one day they will be seen to have been illusions.
    Inasmuch as all Scripture is the product of a single divine mind, interpretation must stay within the bounds of the analogy of Scripture and eschew hypotheses that would correct one Biblical passage by another, whether in the name of progressive revelation or of the imperfect enlightenment of the inspired writer’s mind.

    Although Holy Scripture is nowhere culture-bound in the sense that its teaching lacks universal validity, it is sometimes culturally conditioned by the customs and conventional views of a particular period, so that the application of its principles today calls for a different sort of action.
    Quoted from the Chicago Statement on Inerrancy

    What we have in the gospel accounts are one eye-witness account, from John, one account from Mark, who was a close associate of Peter, one account from a disciple, Matthew, who was not present himself, and one from a later historian, Luke, who had made careful enquiries. If four accounts from such different sources were to agree in small details, one would have cause to think that the accounts had been altered to make them agree.

    In terms of the actual words used, literal exactness, as from a tape recorder, is not to be expected; nor would any reader of those days have considered it at all improper for the writer to put appropriate words into the mouth of the people he is writing about.

    For one writer not to mention something that another one does mention is not any kind of an error either. The point of the accounts about Peter is Jesus’ prophecy of his denial and the denial itself. John’s presence is relevant only as the agent to get Peter into the courtyard; hence it is mentioned only in John’s own account.

    For precise details, I should expect Mark’s account to be the closest, since these events would be most vivid in Peter’s memory and therefore most accurately portrayed by his amanuensis. Peter would remember that it was the same servant girl on the first two occasions, and he would remember that Jesus had spoken of the cock’s crowing twice and when exactly the first cock crow came. John would have been concentrating mainly on what was happening to Jesus rather than to Peter. However he, as an acquaintance of the high priest, was in a position to know that Peter’s third challenger was a relative of the man (Malchus) whose ear had been cut off and healed. Similarly, since he was involved in getting Peter inside, he remembered that the first challenge was from the girl at the door who let them in.

    Both Matthew and Luke were dependant on hearing accounts at second-hand. Hence, about the second challenge, Matthew writes of another woman, whereas Mark knows that it was the same one; Luke merely says “someone else” and John just says “they” (not even specifying the subject, but using a third person plural verb form).

    Elizabeth Strout writes, “…can God’s divine revelation be anything less than perfect? When God sends a final text for all of mankind, shouldn’t it be held to the same standards of holiness and perfection as He himself?“.

    This totally misunderstands the nature of scripture. These accounts give the same picture of events that would be obtained from two honest witnesses and two people relaying honestly what they had heard from honest witnesses; the very differences are a guarantee of reliability. The scriptures are God’s revelation given through the minds of men. Only very rarely does God dictate the actual words. That is one more reason to reject the Quran, because the nature of its supposed revelation is so different from the true scriptures.

    • Elisabeth Strout  On February 4, 2013 at 8:28 pm

      @Oliver Elphick, thanks for your thoughtful reply. I have a couple of thoughts on what you said.

      You quoted “The truthfulness of Scripture is not negated by the appearance in it of irregularities of grammar or spelling, phenomenal descriptions of nature, reports of false statements (e.g., the lies of Satan), or seeming discrepancies between one passage and another.”

      The contradictions I pointed out were not grammar or spelling irregularities, phenomenal descriptions or false statements, nor were they ‘seeming’ discrepancies. They are very clear discrepancies.

      You also wrote, “If four accounts from such different sources were to agree in small details, one would have cause to think that the accounts had been altered to make them agree. In terms of the actual words used, literal exactness, as from a tape recorder, is not to be expected; nor would any reader of those days have considered it at all improper for the writer to put appropriate words into the mouth of the people he is writing about.”

      You’ll notice I specifically pointed out in my article that “there is a slight difference of wording, but that can be overlooked.” I was not dealing with the difference in wording – I no more expect ‘literal exactness as from a tape recorder’ than you do, especially given the four ‘such different sources’. HOWEVER, I am dealing with the passages as Christians view them, that is, not from four different sources, but ALL INSPIRED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT. If the Holy Spirit inspired all of them, then the DETAILS should match up perfectly, though the WORDING may be different.

      You also wrote, “For one writer not to mention something that another one does mention is not any kind of an error either.” You must have overlooked the second paragraph, where I addressed this – please go back and re-read it, you’ll find that I am NOT dealing with inclusive, super-imposable differences.

      And finally, you wrote, “These accounts give the same picture of events that would be obtained from two honest witnesses and two people relaying honestly what they had heard from honest witnesses; the very differences are a guarantee of reliability. The scriptures are God’s revelation given through the minds of men. Only very rarely does God dictate the actual words. That is one more reason to reject the Quran, because the nature of its supposed revelation is so different from the true scriptures.”

      Sir, to the contrary, if two witnesses appear in court, and one gives a testimony that the guilty part was approached by Person A, Person B, and Persons C, D &E, and the second witness testifies that the guilty party was actually approached by Person A, Person A again, and Person F, they can NOT both be honest. I disagree strongly that God’s Word should be in human words instead of divine ones, for then we have no way of distinguishing the two, but even if God did choose to reveal Himself “through the minds of men”, allowing for wording differences, THE DETAILS MUST STILL MATCH UP. And far, far too often, they do not in the Bible. That is one more reason to reject the Bible, and embrace the Qur’an.

      • Oliver Elphick  On February 4, 2013 at 8:59 pm

        We are not talking about court appearances, where in any case a witness can be questioned about details in order to clarify his account, but about historical accounts. Two (or even three) of the accounts would be inadmissible in court as hearsay (which does not make them invalid history). John’s account is the only direct eye-witness one, and he reports the second challenge in.very general terms, which suggests that he himself might have it by hearsay rather than by seeing the event himself.

        You want to hold these accounts to an inappropriate standard. The scriptures were accepted by the collective judgement of the church. No one in the early church considered these varying details to be a problem, so we have no reason to do so either.

        It really doesn’t matter that you don’t like the bible’s being given in men’s words, rather than by divine dictation. That is the way God gave it to us, and that is the form of the OT books of which Jesus declared that the scripture cannot be broken. Therefore it must be accepted as such.

        Furthermore the Quran declares that the scriptures currently in the possession of Christians and Jews at the time of its writing were preserved by God – and they have not changed since then. Thus the Quran demonstrates its own inconsistency, because it endorses the scriptures while at the same time denying what they say. But it was a product of Mohammed’s delusions at best.

    • qmarkmark  On February 10, 2013 at 1:57 pm

      Thanks for notes Br. Oliver,

      I found this really interesting in your citation:

      It is not right to set the so-called “phenomena” of Scripture against the teaching of Scripture about itself. Apparent inconsistencies should not be ignored. Solution of them, where this can be convincingly achieved, will encourage our faith, and where for the present no convincing solution is at hand we shall significantly honor God by trusting His assurance that His Word is true, despite these appearances, and by maintaining our confidence that one day they will be seen to have been illusions.

      Such prudent statement like the very first one can come only from scholars. Isn’t the first statement got hints of circular argumentation in it. Any time find a short coming in the the Scripture, merely appeal that “Scripture teach” it can be present!!

      It is really interesting that a entire host of scholars for two thousand years now, has to use words like “present” and “one day” they would find solutions to it. I think it is better to practically accept shortcomings of Bible like substantial scholars do than impractical optimism.

      Sincerely,
      Q.M.

      • Oliver Elphick  On February 10, 2013 at 11:37 pm

        In the end, acceptance of scripture, whether the bible or the Quran, is a matter of faith. Faith in Jesus requires faith in his word. But that is a rational faith, because his resurrection is a guarantee of its truth.

      • Elisabeth Strout  On February 14, 2013 at 2:08 am

        Faith in Jesus and his word is a rational faith because his resurrection is a guarantee of its truth? But we only know of his resurrection FROM his supposed word… which we trust because of his resurrection… which we trust because of his word… this, sir, is known as circular reasoning.

      • Oliver Elphick  On February 14, 2013 at 2:24 am

        Let us set out the possible scenarios.

        1. The biblical account says that, by the eternal plan of God, Jesus came to earth and then up to Jerusalem with the fixed intention of dying for the sin of the world. He was crucified, died and was buried and was raised to new life on the third day. He showed himself to his disciples after his resurrection and taught them over a period of 40 days before ascending to heaven.

        Ten days after this, the disciples received the Holy Spirit in a spectacular fashion at Jerusalem, in the middle of the Shavuot feast. They received the power of God for healing. As a result they were so emboldened that they preached Jesus crucified and resurrected and every one of them held to this until the end of their lives, all but one of them being killed because of it

        2. The secular account agrees (usually) that Jesus was crucified, but denies the resurrection. Various weak and even bizarre “natural” explanations of the resurrection are put forward. None of them account for Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances. None of them account for all the disciples’ remaining faithful until death, in spite of all persecution.

        3. The Islamic account claims that Jesus was not crucified at all, but that someone else was substituted by Allah and crucified in his place. It does not really explain why. This account does not address the resurrection. It does not attempt to say whether it was that other person’s body that was resurrected — in which case how could it have convinced his disciples? — or whether the resurrection itself was also Allah’s deception — in which case we must ask what the point of the whole affair was — or whether no resurrection happened at all — in which case it runs into the same problems as the secular scenario.

        If you have a better Islamic account, please propose it, but at present, as I see it, only the Christian account is internally consistent and also congruent with the historical evidence.

      • Elisabeth Strout  On February 14, 2013 at 5:44 am

        Again, this presupposes that the Biblical account is actually trustworthy. If it’s not, then we have no way of knowing what the disciples did or didn’t do, and what did or did not happen to Jesus. As this post begins to attempt to explain, the Christian account is NOT internally consistent, it is riddled with contradictions, and therefore unreliable. Also, I strongly suggest the book “Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew” if you want a deeper understanding of the contemporary accounts of Christ (you can buy it here – http://www.amazon.com/Lost-Christianities-Battles-Scripture-Faiths/dp/0195182499).

      • Oliver Elphick  On February 14, 2013 at 5:49 am

        You haven’t actually shown that the bible is untrustworthy. You have set up your own standard and decided it does not meet that. It was never required to.

        We have four separate accounts of what happened. There is no reason at all to disbelieve them. Different authors bring out different details. This is normal; if they did not, there would be no point in having separate accounts.

        You would have us believe an account written 600 years later, with no verification at all. It’s a no-brainer. I will stick with the bible.

      • Elisabeth Strout  On February 14, 2013 at 6:01 am

        Again, you should definitely read the book. You need to understand the nature of the gospel accounts, relative to contemporary literary genres.

      • qmarkmark  On February 14, 2013 at 1:38 pm

        @ Br. Oliver,

        Thanks for your notes.

        If you would have observed then in the recent publications (in this blog) regarding the New Testament, I was particularly interested with the biases and agendas which drove the pens of the authors. If due to a particular agenda a particular author can be motivated to write/redact something then it opens up uncertainties and casts enough doubt on the literary integrity of the author.

        Br. Oliver, I exactly understand your state of mind when you write things like, “We have four separate accounts of what happened. There is no reason at all to disbelieve them. Different authors bring out different details. This is normal; if they did not, there would be no point in having separate accounts.” For I would totally understand “different” details but I do not understand “contradictory” details. There is a difference between the two propositions which should not be eliminated by an illuminated person like you.

        Let me know what “verification” you need with Qur’an?

        By the way, I have something for you in the latest article. You would find your oft-used argument that Qur’an validating Bible responded there. Plus, relevant to this discussion, I have many arguments therein, especially that Jesus’ (p) words and Pauline letter is not actually making into the NT.

        Hope to have your thoughts over them once again.

        Sincerely,
        Q.M.

      • Oliver Elphick  On February 14, 2013 at 5:19 pm

        A book by Bart Ehrman?! I don’t think that will be very helpful. First he is an apostate who has to find some kind of justification to assuage his own guilt. Secondly, and probably as a result, he is notorious for overstating his own arguments and understating or even misrepresenting those of his opponents. It won’t give me a deeper understanding of anything but his own prejudices.

        Since I doubt that anyone reading this blog will chase it up, here is an extract from a hostile review of Ehrman’s book (from the Amazon reviews on the linked page):

        I am sorry to have to seem to be so opposed to Ehrman, but he almost totally leaves out of consideration the key factors, of the person of Jesus Christ, and the Church (the word `Church’ hardly appears in his text, and is not listed in his Index.). This is not acceptable. Although he is quite within his remit to concentrate on the `Lost Christianities’, he leaves out of consideration any serious comparison between the texts (and therefore the beliefs) of these lost `Christianities’, and the texts (and therefore the beliefs) of what he chooses to call `proto-orthodoxy’, which are to be found in the New Testament. I find fault with his choosing to give a list of forty-four `Major Christian Apocrypha’ (pages xi to xv), with the `probable dates’ of their composition and the briefest one-sentence outline of the `content’ of each. The reason I find fault with this list is that it clamours to be matched by a list of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament, with the universally accepted scholarly dating of the original `composition’ (not manuscript evidence) of these documents between 50 and 100 AD, with probably only two or three spilling over into the early second century. And for each New Testament book, as for his list of Apocrypha, there is needed at least the briefest (a difficult task!) summary of its contents. But Ehrman does not give us this needed New Testament table. Yet even the quickest comparison of such a New Testament table against the Apocrypha table would establish that the Apocrypha were composed decades or even centuries later than the New Testament records, and are therefore certainly a `falling away’ from the much earlier primitive (and much more plausible) New Testament record about the real Jesus of Nazareth.

        This is confirmed again by even the most superficial comparison – or better, contrast – of the CONTENT of the New Testament documents as against most of the Ebionite, Marcionite, and Gnostic documents which Ehrman analyses. It is worth emphasizing, also, as I point out in my amazon review of the book, “The Apocryphal Gospels – A Very Short Introduction”, by Paul Foster, that practically every verse in the New Testament quotes or echoes or is in some way supported by the witness of Old Testament texts. Jesus is the promised Messiah. Old Testament Judaism is fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth. This Old Testament sourcing is not found in the `Lost Christianities’. The intrinsic unlikelihood of the `Lost Christianities’ simply does not stand comparison with the New Testament. Unlike Ehrman, I find no difficulty in accepting that the `winners’ of the Christian debates of the first four centuries, the Church of Rome, were also `in the right’. It is a curious weakness of scholars to tend to believe that it is it the losers who are generally right.

        THE LOST CHRISTIANITIES DESERVED TO BE LOST.

        and another:

        Ehrman’s a really bright guy, but this is just plain bad scholarship. He’s so concerned with showing any sort of Christianity to be irrational, he completely loses himself. Ehrman underqualifies nearly all of his positive claims, and when he summarizes views that contradict his, those views clearly obliterate any chance of his working at all. Take, for example, his discussion of “secret Mark”. He really, really wants there to be a secret Mark, but he’s a good enough scholar to present other’s viewpoints. Even after presenting all the multi-faceted evidence that it was completely forged, he still just plain wants to think there was such a thing. This book reads much like the Da Vinci Code: really entertaining narrative, but pure fiction.

      • Elisabeth Strout  On February 14, 2013 at 8:35 pm

        Mr. Elphick,

        We’re clearly not getting anywhere. I write a post about contradictions in the Bible, you deny those contradictions show the Bible is unreliable. You claim we can trust the Bible because Jesus came back to life, I say that’s circular reasoning. I suggest a book exploring OTHER, NON-BIBLICAL sources, you ridicule the book saying it’s untrustworthy because it’s written by a Christian apostate, and it doesn’t discuss the New Testament. If I wanted to suggest a book that discusses the modern Christian’s view of Jesus and the church, I would have suggested one. Ehrman’s book doesn’t claim to do that – your Amazon reviewer clearly didn’t read the title. The title is LOST CHRISTIANITIES, SCRIPTURES AND FAITHS WE NEVER KNEW. The book addresses exactly that. You disagree with all that I believe, and I disagree with all that you believe, but if you suggest some resource to me to give me a deeper understanding of what you believe, I will gladly check it out before responding, not arrogantly throw it to one side because it’s written by a Muslim apostate. As such, I have nothing further to discuss with you. May God guide you.

  • Elisabeth Strout  On February 4, 2013 at 10:16 pm

    @Oliver Elphick,

    Sir, I appreciate your candor, but quite frankly you have done nothing but state your beliefs, you have not given any evidence for them.

    I can equally write, “You want to hold the Qur’an to an inappropriate standard. The scriptures were accepted by the collective judgement of the Muslim community and Islamic scholars. No one in the early generations considered the Qur’an’s lack of contradictions to be a problem, so we have no reason to do so either. It really doesn’t matter that you don’t like the Qur’an’s being given by divine dictation rather than in men’s words. That is the way God gave it to us, and that is the form of the OT books (see the Prophets) of which Jesus declared that the scripture cannot be broken. Therefore it must be accepted as such.”

    But again, that is just a statement of belief, not evidence for belief. Furthermore, you are blatantly misquoting the Qur’an. The Qur’an makes several statements about prior revelation, that must all be taken together.

    1 – The Torah of Moses, the Zabur of David, and the Injeel of Jesus (the words JESUS spoke, not what some ecclesiastical comglomeration of varying texts says about him) were all divine ORAL revelations.

    2 – What has come down to us written of these three ORAL revelations HAS been changed and corrupted. While God’s decrees never change, what men have written down of them has not been preserved by them, and therefore the Qur’an was given as the final revelation with a promise of protection by God.

    3- Jews and Christians SHOULD look at what is between their hands, yes, the corrupted written texts, BECAUSE it will confirm the Qur’an. You’re wrongly assuming that means that the Bible teaches everything the Qur’an does, and therefore Muhammad told them to look at it. If THAT were the case, then there would have been no need for the Qur’an. The Bible contains both elements of truth found in Islam, AND it contains obvious corruption that confirms the need for the Qur’an.

    If you take one of these points alone and out of context, you can make the Qur’an say anything you want, just as I could do with the Bible. I’d appreciate if you’d be intellectually honest with yourself when dealing with the Qur’an, as I do my utmost with the Bible.

    I’ve noticed you comment on this blog quite frequently, and seemingly have no intention of changing your beliefs, so I would respectfully suggest that you consider checking your open-mindedness (“Am I coming at this automatically assuming it’s wrong? Am I willing to admit if a correct point is made or a reasonable concept is put forward? Am I willing to change my beliefs if the evidence points in a different direction?” etc,) before disagreeing with any further comments or articles. Otherwise, dialogue is pointless.

    may God guide us both.

    • Oliver Elphick  On February 6, 2013 at 2:06 am

      What has come down to us written of these three ORAL revelations HAS been changed and corrupted.

      Where’s the evidence to back up that assertion? Why do you think God was unable to preserve his word uncorrupted?

      In fact there is no evidence at all that the bible is corrupted. Its message is consistent, showing a progressive revelation. And since Jesus is the summation of God’s self revelation, there was indeed no need for the Quran – in fact it is not from God at all.

      I notice that posters on this blog seemingly have no intention of changing their beliefs. How is your open-mindedness? To convince me to change you would first of all have to show that the Quran was actually from God rather than being Mohammed’s own invention, or that of a devil deceiving him, and no one has ever come anywhere near doing that.

      The point of commenting is to challenge the frequent false arguments that are brought against Christianity and the bible. After all, bringing those arguments is the whole point of this blog, from its title! I may not expect to convince those who have surrendered their minds to Islam, but I can show the falsity of these arguments to others whom God may save.

      • Elisabeth Strout  On February 6, 2013 at 2:30 am

        You seem to be going in circles sir. I wrote an article giving an example of corruption in the Bible. You counter that the Qur’an claims the Bible is uncorrupted. I explain what the Qur’an says about the Bible, you ask where is the evidence to back up the Bible’s corruption. Umm… in my article? You cannot deny that there are clear contradictions in the story above. If you disagree that contradictions are corruption, then there’s nothing more to discuss. We’ll have to agree to disagree.

      • Oliver Elphick  On February 6, 2013 at 4:28 am

        Corruption implies that something has been changed. When? By whom?

        How was it that God was incapable of preserving his word in this case? How did he come to be able to do so with the Quran (assuming it is from God and that it has in fat been preserved unchanged, both of which I would dispute.)

  • semsav12  On February 6, 2013 at 7:24 am

    Great Article Elisabeth! Can’t wait for more!

  • Oliver Elphick  On February 15, 2013 at 12:08 am

    Part of the purpose of having four gospels is to show four different aspects of Jesus. These also correspond to the standards of the four camps of Israel, into which the twelve tribes were divided, and also to the four faces of the cherubim. They are::

    Matthew – The Messianic King – The Lion – Judah
    Mark – The Servant – The Ox – Reuben
    Luke – The Son of Man – The Man – Ephraim
    John – The divine Son of God – The eagle – Dan

    In line with that, Matthew contains Jesus’ royal genealogy, showing the descent of Joseph, who was his legal father, and through whom he could have claimed the kingship, had he come to earth to do that.

    Mark has no genealogy, because no one cares about the genealogy of a servant.

    Luke shows Jesus’ human descent through his mother, daughter of Heli (who must have married Joseph under the terms laid out for the daughters of Zelophehad (Numbers 26, 27, 36 and Joshua 17)

    John shows Jesus’ divine origin as the eternal Word of God, the unique Son of the Father.

    Also see here.

    See how God has planned the structure of the bible. The four gospel writers, writing at different times and even in different countries, could not have got together to plan that their gospels should so correspond with the Old Testament symbols. This came about because of the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

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