If you try to read the Bible like one long historical document, yes, you’re going to find what appear to be “errors and contradictions.” But a chronologically historical document it is not. There ARE historical accounts and some of it IS listed in order of events, but the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures are much broader than that! There are parables and narratives; there is wisdom, literature and there is poetry; there are prophecies and letters and more. The Scriptures are less about historical accuracy (though in many places they have been proven to be accurate) and more about a relationship between God and creation.
In the Hebrew Bible, you see God’s relationship with the Israelites — God’s chosen people. You see laws given by God to guide his people toward a closer relationship with him. You see God’s chosen people struggle with issues of life, death, sin, redemption and faith. And you see a God who continually remains faithful to a covenant made with people he deeply loves.
In the Christian Bible (the New Testament) we see God spreading the scope of his love to all people and welcoming every one of us into a permanent state of grace. There are four Gospels because we get a broader picture of what happened when the story is told from four different points of view. In Acts and the letters (of Paul and others), we have an account of how the church started and how the church began to develop its understanding of who Jesus was and is. And through it all, we are given a glimpse into the mysterious realm of the Kingdom of God — a place where all of creation is reconciled into a perfect relationship with God; and through God we are reconciled into a perfect relationship with each other as well.
Rev. Laura Hutchinson, First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Stories in the Bible were passed down for generations
Scholars all over the world have argued historically and scientifically about the errors and contradictions in the Bible.
In the book of Genesis, the first book of the Bible, there are many contradictions in the first creation story to what is recorded in the second creation story that appears in Chapter 2 of Genesis. In Chapter 1, God comes out of nowhere and calls the world into existence. In the next 24 verses he calls everything into being. When he decides to make man in verse 25 he says, “Let us make man in our own image,” and in verse 27 God created male and female in his own image. In Genesis 2:7, God formed man from the dust of the earth and created the woman from the man’s rib.
We will never know who it is that God is referring to as “us” in Genesis 1:26. We will never know if God created the unnamed woman from the rib of Adam.
We must remember that the Old Testament is not an isolated body of literature. There are other creation stories, not in the Bible. The Hebrew writers wrote a different creation story than the Babylonians or the other cultures around them. These stories were passed down from generation to generation and the writers came from different places and different times.
Alberta McCrory, Gaines Chapel AME Church, Anniston