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Inspiration and Contradictions

In the following e-mail exchange, the e-mailer's comments are in black and enclosed in "greater than" and "lesser than" signs. My comments are in red.

>I have a  question with regards to the 1st item on the DTL confession of faith, How do you resolve Paul's contradiction found in Acts 9:7 and 22:9?  I checked this out on several different Bible versions, and here are the results I found:

Acts 9:7 -  But the men, the ones traveling with him, had stood speechless, indeed HEARING the voice but seeing no one.
Acts 22:9 -“Now the ones being with me indeed saw the light and became terrified, but they DID NOT HEAR the voice of the One speaking to me.

Acts 9:7 - And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, HEARING a voice, but seeing no man.
Acts 22:9 - And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they HEARD NOT the of him that spake to me.

Acts 9:7 - And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, HEARING a voice but seeing no one.
Acts 22:9 - And those who were with me indeed saw the light and were afraid, but they DID NOT HEAR the voice of Him who spoke to me.

So did the men with Paul hear the voice or not?

I checked other version with the same results. Some even tried to explain what was meant through translation.  I personally don't like that approach, who are they to tell us what Paul really meant (only Paul and God know that).  We need to rely on God and the Holy Spirit to tell us.<

I did want to translate the words differently to show that "hear" was being used in a difference sense in each passage. However, the Greek word is the same, so I didn't think it was appropriate to do so to solve the apparent contradiction. But even with the words and translation being the same, it is still possible that the word is being used in two different senses. A word can have more than one connotation, in both Greek and English.

In this case, if you said something to me, I might respond, "What? I didn't hear you." But of course I did hear you or I wouldn't have said anything! What I mean is, "I didn't understand you." So the word "hear" in English (and Greek) can mean not just "hear a sound" but "hear with understanding."

So in the first passage, Paul is saying the men "heard the voice" in the sense of hearing a sound. In the second passage, he is saying they they "did not hear" in the sense of hearing with understanding.

>The only possible source for this ERROR is the Original Manuscripts.  Or are you betting on the fact that we don't have the originals, just some copies, so it can't be solidly proven?  Or the fact that these Holy Men are now dead and we can't ask them what they meant?<

An error is not the "only possible source." As indicated above, there is a very simple way to resolve the conflict, by looking at the way words are used. There is no reason to throw out the doctrine of inerrancy.

>Don't get me wrong.  I have no doubt of the validity of the Bible.  I just feel that we shouldn't try to mask the fact that the Bible does have problems.  The Bible is what it is.  The inspired word of God to Holy men who wrote down what he told them.  If there was a brain cramp in between the time they [HOLY MEN] received his words and when they recorded it, that was man's fault!<

If God did not control what the "holy men" wrote, then the Bible is not and cannot be the word of God. Your concept here throws out the whole doctrine of inspiration and the many Scripture verse showing the Bible is the very word of God. It could not be if the "holy men" were not writing exactly what God wanted them to write.

>Don't blame God, but trust in him to manifest the truth.  We should be looking for further light and knowledge from God himself, relying on him and his spirit alone to provide.  Not some manly Bible commentary to explain it all to us.<

We should be relying on the Bible itself as the final authority, not our "feelings" nor what someone says the Bible says. Yes, we should pray to ask God to guide us, but His leading will not have us believe something the Bible does not teach. In this case, the Bible clearly teaches its own inspiration and inerrancy. So if your "feeling" is telling you it is neither, then your feeling is wrong.

As for commentaries, they can be helpful. Godly and learned men have written some very good commentaries over the centuries that can be very beneficial. But it must always be remembered that these men were not inspired like the "holy men" who wrote the Scriptures were.

>I also disagree with you that the Bible is complete.  But that is another subject all together!


Yes it is, but it would also be related to the question of whether God was able to have the holy men write exactly what He wanted them to write. To address other supposed contradictions in the Bible, I would suggest picking up one or more of the following books.

Archer, Gleason. Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties.
Blomberg, Craig. Historical Reliability of the Gospels.
Haley, John. Alleged Discrepancies.
Geisler, Norman and Thomas Howe. When Critics Ask.
O'Brian, David. Today's Handbook for Solving Bible Difficulties.

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