Discussing with an Inerrantist

The interaction over the claim that the Bible has no contradictions within it, at times can be ferocious, fascinating, frustrating, and funny.

The typical dance in this charade is for the skeptic to claim “Contradiction!” laying out two (or more) apparently differing portions of Scripture. The inerrantist then jumps in with an explanation, asserting “Resolution!” They each banter back and forth, with graduated verbosity, citations, and hand-waving, while continually proclaiming “Contradiction!” or “Resolution!” respectively.

It can be as amusing as children arguing: “Window Seat! Because I called it, I got it!” “Then I get the Video Game!” Each is certain that the verbal announcement has set the matter in stone as unassailable as a law of nature. And, on occasion, as a parent I am forced to veto the declarations made, and re-distribute seats and games accordingly.

My children are stunned to learn that the verbal proclamations were not sacrosanct. “But I called it!”

It is the same in this debate. Simply labeling something as a “Resolution!” or a “Contradiction!” does not make it so. No—no matter how many times, nor how forcefully it is stated. “Calling it” does not count.

That is why I continually and constantly ask for a method to determine a contradiction. Rather than waste our time, using our labels, and not progressing the matter forward a millimeter.

When I ask for this method, I begin a new dance. A different jig. Most times, it appears that the inerrantist has never been asked this question and has never considered what method to use. They appear to be so familiar with the old steps of “This is a Resolution!” and stringing together a series of possibilities, bolstered by analogies, that my asking for a method throws them off their cadence.

As this point we stumble a bit. The inerrantist attempts to re-start the song of “Resolution!” and when I won’t dance, begins to engage in the more demanding task of coming up with a method to determine what is or is not a contradiction within the Bible.

I offer my method that if a neutral jury would feel it is more likely to be a contradiction, based upon the facts and the human condition then it is, but that is immediately rejected. We certainly cannot have a skeptic setting the tunes by which we dance!

Eventually a method falters out. Inerrantists are not stupid. They are well aware that if the method is too exacting the Bible will fail. Based on my history, apparently my “neutral jury” is one such method that is too probable to produce results the inerrantist cannot live with, so the method must be less than that.

Unfortunately, the method is normally minimal, such as “any logical possibility,” that it renders just about any work conceivable as inerrant. While it retains the Bible’s ability to be non-contradictory, it also makes the very human endeavors such as newspapers and Yellow Pages equally as non-contradictory.

I point out that by using this method; the inerrantist has won the battle but lost the war. The Bible is non-contradictory, but so is everything else. The Bible loses any uniqueness, and becomes as ordinary as could be. “Inerrancy” is as much support for divinity of the Bible as the fact it is written on paper. In other words—none.

And then the inerrantist wanders off (and sometimes I do), with the inerrantist muttering under their breath, “Resolution. Resolution. Who needs a method when we have resolutions?” I presume off to find some skeptic that is more willing to dance to the stomp and flurry of “Contradiction! Resolution!”

Recently I was bemoaning this request for a method, utilizing the names of the disciples as the example of the contradiction, and Dave Armstrong entered the fray with a “Resolution!”

After tussling a bit back and forth, a method to determine a contradiction emerged: “Examine the proposed contradiction and see if there is an explanation that can account for it. The explanation must be more plausible and more believable than the opposing view of a contradiction.”

Simply put, the claims of the contradiction are proposed, the claims of the explanation are proposed and whichever is more plausible and more believable determines the outcome. Now, the issue as to “Who?” makes the determination of plausibility has been left unresolved. I would propose a neutral person (such as Jew, a Hindu or a Taoist who has no stake in whether the New Testament has a contradiction or not) but Dave Armstrong is not certain that such a neutral person exists.

(Personally, I think most neutral people generally expect contradictions in a variety of stories, and there is a fear that by using a neutral, they are far more likely to naturally determine contradiction. Again, this does not bode well for the inflated claims for the Bible if it cannot even withstand regular, normal human scrutiny. But I digress.)

So I leave it to the reader of this blog entry. A poll, if you will. I cannot help the fact that many of you are not neutral, as you can see I was left with little choice. The question is simple—Given the various names of the Twelve disciples and the different circumstances around their calling (you will have to read my previous blog entry) and the explanation provided by Dave Armstong (link above): which is more likely? Contradiction? Or Explanation?

The music has come up; it is time to dance, I see.

The explanation given is not complicated: Jews of the First Century Palestine had 2 or 3 names. When one author recorded a particular disciple, another author happened to record a different name of the same disciple. An example would be my referring to a blogger named “John,” and Dave Armstrong referring to a blogger named “Loftus” when we both mean the same person.


One thing to be careful is utilizing analogies of a different time and society as compared to the period we are discussing. Simply because we, at times, call people solely by their last time, this is not necessarily analogous to how a Biblical author would have done so.

Jews did not assume family names (such as “Loftus”) until the 10th Century. Prior to that (and during the period we are discussing—1st Century) an individual would be known by his/her given name, and sometimes their father’s name would be added. For example “David ben Yaakov” (David the son of Yaakov). "Ben Yaakov" was not a family name, but part of his given name. His son's name, for instance, would not continue with the ending “Ben Yaakov,” but rather “Ben David” (the son of David). See here.

A Jew may have been referred to as “David” or “David ben Yaakov” but not just “ben Yaakov.” Comparing the analogy of “John” to “Loftus” is incorrect. While analogies can be useful, it would be better to utilize the information we have from the period and place of time that we are discussing.

Two names?

While the explanation provided asserts that Jews were known by 2 or 3 names, no citation, no point of reference, no further information was given as to demonstration of this claim. We have other writings from this time period which would give valuable insight; a prominent example—the writings of Josephus.

Reading Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews, Book 18, we come across the following names: “Joazar, who was the son of Beethus,” “Judas, a Gaulonite,” “Sadduc, a Pharisee,” “Judas the Galilean,” and “Ananus the son of Seth.”

However, we also see Josephus utilizing a singular name at times as well, such as “Herod,” “Philip,” “Antipater,” and “Alexander” often after already identifying them with the longer term.

In viewing other works prepared at the time of the Gospels, it would seem appropriate that writers would call a person by either their singular name, OR include their occupation (“the king” “the Baptist”) OR include their location, (“the Galilean”) OR by including their father’s name, (“son of Beethus.”) The one thing we do NOT see are other authors calling people by just “son of Zebedee” if they knew the first name.

This explanation, though, demands that it is MORE plausible that the authors did something contrary to their style, with no evidence to support that claim. Each of us has a certain style—a way of writing. If we write that way on Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday, it is more likely, more believable that (absent any evidence to the contrary) we will continue to write that way on Friday.

The authors of the Gospels display a propensity to list dual names, when known. In order for this explanation to work, it claims that the authors picked only one name. But that is contrary to their style! Look at the names of the Disciples:

Simon Peter (John 21:2)
Andrew, brother of Peter (Matt. 10:2)
James the son of Zebedee, son of Thunder (Mark 1:19 & 3:17)
John the son of Zebedee son of Thunder (Mark 1:19 & 3:17
Philip of Bethsaida of Galilee (John 12:21)
Thomas called the Twin (John 21:2)
James, son of Alphaeus (Mark 3:18)
Thaddeus, also know as Lebbaeus (Matt. 10:3)
Simon the Cananite (Mark 3:18)
Judas Iscariot (John 12:4)

Judas, son (brother?) of James, (Possibly the “other” Judas) (Luke 6:16) (John 14:22)
Nathanael of Cana of Galilee (John 21:2)

What we see are numerous indications of the writers very freely listing more than one name of an individual, or listing the parentage, or listing a moniker such as “the twin” or “the Cananite.” (Again, very similar to Josephus.)

Initially, the inerrantist would seem to be pleased with the notion of two names, and the claim that one author could utilize one name, and another author a different name. However, in reviewing the actual writings and styling of the Gospel writers, we see that the authors do no hesitate, and repeatedly embrace the use of more than one name.

Is it more plausible, given the affinity of use of the other names, that an author of the Gospel would know the other name of the disciple and not use it? Or is it more plausible that the author did not KNOW any other name, so they only used the singular?

Other Contradictions

If there are other contradictions within the stories of the calling of the disciples, it makes it more likely and more plausible that the names themselves are contradictory. If the authors were obtaining information from different sources, or creating legendary history of their own, we would expect differences in more than just the names; we would expect differences in the surrounding events themselves (for verses see previous post)

Problem of Order
- According to Mark and Matthew, the first disciples called were Peter and Andrew together.
- According to Luke, it was Peter first, then Andrew later.
- According to John, it was Andrew first, then Peter later.

Problem of When
- According to Mark, Matthew and Luke, the calling(s) took place AFTER John the Baptist was thrown in Prison.
- According to John, the calling(s) took place BEFORE.

What were the disciples doing?
- According to Mark and Matthew, Peter and Andrew were fishing; James and John were mending their nets with dad.
- According to Luke, Jesus used Peter’s boat as a platform to preach, then did a miraculous catch of fish with James and John. Who have been elevated to partners with Peter. James and John’s dad, servants and mending are all absent. So, too, Andrew.
- According to John, Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist, who brought Peter to Jesus.

Where were Peter and Andrew from?
- Bethsaida. John 12:21 Edited to add: "and John 1:44"
- Capernaum. Mark 1:21-33 and Luke 4:31-38

Given the vastly different tales surrounding the calling the disciples, is it MORE likely that the names would be different as well, or less likely?

But let’s dig into the common explanations for the names themselves, shall we?


The explanation given is that Levi and Matthew were the same person. The authors just used different names.

Imagine Jesus meets three men—Levi, Nicodemus and Zacchaeus. We then read a list of twelve disciples and these three specific names are not listed. What is the more plausible explanation: that they didn’t make the cut, or that their names were changed?

Yes, I am aware of the timing of Nicodemus and Zacchaeus after the calling, and Jesus’ parallel words of “Follow me” to Levi. But think about it. Mark tells of an encounter with a Levi, and then his name does not appear on the list. Luke tells of an encounter with a Levi, and his name does not appear on the list. John does not tell of an encounter, nor of Levi, nor of Matthew.

If all we had were those three Gospels, the contradiction would not even appear! The most plausible and most believable explanation would be that the Levi fellow never became one of the Twelve. The only reason we have a contradiction is because of the Gospel of Matthew.

I presume my readers are aware of the Synoptic problem, and Markan priority. In a nutshell, I hold that that author of Matthew and the author of Luke utilized the written Gospel of Mark in preparing their own Gospels. The author of Matthew tended to remove the difficult languages, or implications when copying Mark. (Part of the basis of Markan priority is that it includes more difficult concepts regarding Jesus, and later works “smoothed them out.”)

(One such example in our own tale is the confrontation at Levi’s table. According to Mark, the disciples of John the Baptist and the Pharisees both confront Jesus at Levi’s house. Mark 2:18. To take away the difficulty of these two entities working together, Matthew removes the Pharisees from asking the question. Matt 9:14. Luke removes the disciples of John. Luke 5:33. Go figure.)

I contend it is more plausible that to make Levi a certainty as a disciple, the author of Matthew inserted “Matthew” in the stead of “Levi” to resolve what he viewed as a difficulty.

Item One: In Matt 10:3, Matthew lists the twelve disciples. (He is well-aware of the number, as he just mentioned “twelve disciples” two verses previously.) He is careful to note that the “Matthew” who is listed is “Matthew the tax collector.” But why emphasize this fact? He had just finished listing the tale of Matthew the tax collector! He doesn’t list “Andrew the fisherman.” Or any other occupation.

The author is placing special emphasis on the fact that this was “Matthew the tax collector” as in the person listed previously. As if he needs to bolster the claim that the previous tale of the tax collector resulted in the “Matthew” of the list of disciples he is copying from Mark.

Item Two: You are told that “Levi, son of Alphaeus” is a disciple. His name has been changed. Which one is the most plausible to correlate to Levi?

1. Andrew
2. Philip
3. Bartholomew
4. Matthew
5. Thomas
6. James the son of Alphaeus
7. Thaddaeus
8. Simon the Canaanite
9. Judas Iscariot

I am uncertain how we would ever come up with anything but person No. 6 – James son of Alphaeus. “Son of Alphaeus” would certainly seem to point to the same person as the most plausible choice. (Apparently I am not the only one. The copyist of Codex Bezae inserted “James” in lieu of “Levi” in the Markan tale of the tax collector.)

Yet what does the author of Matthew do, when copying Mark? He removes the reference “son of Alphaeus” when referring to Matthew, but NOT when referring to James. Apparently to remove any inference or question as to whom the tax collector could be.

To sum up, three gospels do not create any contradiction in this regard. Only the Gospel of Matthew introduces this problem. The author deliberately adds language to highlight the relationship between the tax collector and Mark’s list, the author deliberately deletes language to remove any confusion as to who the tax collector is, and the author does not note an additional name for Levi of Mark, despite doing so for other disciples.

Not only is it plausible this is a contradiction, I would think it more believable that it was a deliberate act when we take into account the modifications he must intentionally be performing on the Gospel of Mark.

Or is it more plausible that Levi and Matthew were the same, and the author of Matthew failed to note the alternative names. The author of Mark failed to note the alternative names. And the author of Luke failed to note the alternative names.


Lebbaeus. Great Example of exactly what we are talking about. Many early manuscripts (primarily the Western Text) refer to this disciple as “Lebbaeus.” One name. Other manuscripts (Alexandrian) refer to this disciple as “Thaddaeus.” One name.

Later copyists, seeing the error, assumed that this disciple had two names—“Lebbaeus” and “Thaddaeus” and introduced the error of “Lebbaeus, also known as Thaddaeus” in order to resolve the apparent problem! This mistranslation was continued into the Textus Receptus, and therefore continued into the KJV.

However, now that textual criticism, availability of manuscripts, and improved sharing of information has occurred, it is realized that there was only one name. Scholars decided it was more plausible that there was only one name, and an error entered into the translation. That is why the newer versions only have “Thaddaeus” in Matt. 10:3 whereas the KJV continues with “Lebbaeus, also known as Thaddaeus.”

I should repeat this, to emphasize it. Two different names were given to a disciple. It was determined that this was a resolution, introduced to resolve a contradiction. It was determined that it was more plausible that the disciple only had one name. link

But, to consider the explanation as it stands…

The man of many names! Hold on to your seat. Mark calls him just “Thaddaeus.” Matthew indicates he is also called “Lebbaeus.” This explanation claims Luke uses one of his other names, being “Judas.” But the KJV translates, in Luke, Judas being the son of James, whereas in Acts 1:13, he is the brother of James. Since there is a “Jude” who is also a brother of James, and wrote…well…the Book of Jude, he is ALSO associated with this name. Which “James” this person is a brother/son of is left unclear.

We have Thaddaeus aka Lebbaeus aka Judas aka Jude who is either the brother or son of James, which could be James, the brother of Christ, James the brother of John, James the son of Alphaeus, or some other James. If it is James the son of Alphaeus, Matthew aka Levi is ALSO the son of Alphaeus, making Levi the brother of Jude!

Confused? What is more plausible? The simple fact that this is a different name by a different author for the same person, or that we have this round-robin circle of names, which are conveniently not included as it suits the inerrantist?

I propose that the Gospels developed in varying communities that had differing stories about Jesus and his disciples. The Gospel of John refers to “another Judas” so it is very likely there was a tale circulating about two (2) Judas’ within the Disciples. The author of Luke has taken it upon himself to “correct” any misunderstandings (Luke 1:1-4) (including the events surrounding Peter’s calling) and one of them was to insert the second Judas into Mark’s list.

Again, Luke has the same propensity to title people with two names (“Simon Peter,” “Judas Iscariot”) and if Judas Thaddaeus was this disciple’s name, there would be no reason to NOT to list both names.

We have an author that is willing to modify and enhance the Gospel of Mark. We have a name strangely disappear, and another appears in its place. Which is more plausible, a merry-go-round of names and relatives as an explanation, or a contradiction?

[Mere speculation, but one of Jesus’ brothers was named “Judas” Matt. 13:55. If Luke was saying this was “Judas brother of James {brother of Jesus}” was he trying to shoe in one of Jesus’ brothers into the twelve disciples?]

Finally, if Thaddaeus/Judas was the brother of James, we have the additional problem that Matthew fails to identify them as brothers. Matthew identifies Peter and Andrew as brothers. The Author identifies James and John as brothers. But then he fails to identify Thaddaeus and James as brothers. Is that more plausible? Or is it more likely that Matthew did not believe they were brothers.


The Gospel of John is the sole book to list (or even mention) Nathanael. Now, the Gospel of John varies a great deal from the Synoptic Gospels in other regards, and as already pointed out, varies regarding the calling of the disciples. But rather than recognize that all those contradictions, not surprisingly, also result in a contradiction of names, we foxtrot on regarding this explanation.

Since the claim is that some disciples had two names, but the other authors only listed one name, all we need to do is find a disciple listed by Mark, and plug in Nathanael as being his “second” name.

We can’t use Andrew, Peter, Philip or Judas Iscariot because they are used by the author elsewhere. Our favorite multi-named person—Thaddaeus--may already be in use as “another Judas” so he is out as well. But that leaves us a wide open field to pick from.

(Although this may appear as sarcastic, it really is not. This explanation is based on plausibility. What is stopping us from picking any name on the list? Nothing, really. That demonstrates how plausible this interpretation is, when we can be so loose with its implementation.)

Do you know that “Matthew” means “Gift of Jehovah” and “Nathanael” means “Gift of God”? While that seems a tempting match, the explanation goes with Bartholomew.

The reason is that “Bar” means “son” in Aramaic, so “Son of Tolmai” would be translated to “Bartholomew.” The claim is that the disciples’ FULL name was “Nathanael Bar Tolmai” so the author of Mark (with the authors of Matthew and Luke faithfully copying) only referred to “son of Tolmai” and not his first name. Hence, just “Bartholomew.”

The question that arises though is: At what point in time did the name “Bar Tolmai” become a first name of “Bartholomew?” See, if Bartholomew had already developed into a first name by this time, then the fact that its origin that it used to be a last name is useless. The question is not the etymology of Bartholomew, but rather when the name developed.

This explanation would appear to rely upon fact that at this point it had not developed into a “last name” of sorts. However, as pointed out long ago—this fails. Jews were not referred to by family names, nor surnames. This would be similar to having a list of “Jim Bob, Joe, son of Sam, Frank,…” In order for this explanation to be more plausible, it would need to be demonstrated that referring to someone as “son of Tolmai” without their first name was done in Judaism in the First Century.

To sum up, this explanation would claim that it is more plausible that this disciple’s full name is “Nathanael, son of Tolmai.” But Peter, who literally roomed with the fellow (Acts 1:13) only knew him by “son of Tolmai” and translated that to Mark? (But Peter knew “James, son of Alphaeus.”) Matthew, who also roomed with him, coincidentally also only knew him by “son of Tolmai” so when it came time to write the names of the disciples, could not come up with his first name?

Luke, who studied and investigated, never could find his first name? Only the author of John knew his first name (and where he was from.)

Is that plausible?

John 21

This is a chapter added on to the book of John. (John 21:24) Who and when remains a matter of some speculation. However, this author also mentions Nathanael, and apparently is familiar with other disciples listed in the Gospel of John.

Notice when listing the disciples in vs. 2 this author uses Peter’s full name “Simon Peter.” (The author(s) of the remainder of John alternate.) The author of chapter 21 uses Thomas’ full name of “Thomas, called Didymus” and gives us more name information on Nathanael than anywhere else—“Nathanael of Cana of Galilee.”

Is it plausible that this author would be reducing names, or only including one name, when they knew of another? I would contend not. They are demonstrating a style of using as much identifying information as possible.

But at this moment, the information provided drops off sharply. Next are the “sons of Zebedee” and then, no names whatsoever, “two other disciples.” It is implausible the author will use this much information in the first names listed, and then fade off to “and some other guys” if s/he knew their full names.

Most likely, the author had heard of “sons of Zebedee” being disciples, but did not know their name! Just as the author(s) of the remainder of John did not list them, this author did not know who they were either. Also, the author of John seems unaware that Andrew was also a fisherman. He is conspicuous by his absence from the fishing trip with his brother, Peter, back on the home turf.

Simply put, the author of Chapter 21 appears to know the same disciples as the book of John, with only the additional information of “sons of Zebedee.” It is more believable that they would include their names (in light of how the other disciples were named) if they knew them. It would be more plausible that the author did not know the names of the “sons of Zebedee” (considering who the author of the Gospel of John is claimed to be—this is remarkable!), as well as not knowing any other names for disciples, such as those listed by Mark, Matthew and Luke.

Early Church Writings

Although the Epistle of Barnabas refers to “the twelve,” no names are given. Barnabas 8:3. 1 Clement refers to the martyrdoms of Peter and Paul, but no other disciple is mentioned. The most interesting writing is from Papias and his writing on “Mary.”

Mark 15:40 refers to three women watching Jesus on the cross, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the lesser and Joses, and Salome. John 19:25 also refers to three women, only the author lists Mary Magdalene, the sister of Jesus’ mother being Mary, wife of Cleophas, and Jesus mother. (The Gospel of John never gives Jesus’ mother a name.)

Oddly, this would mean that Mary, the mother of Jesus has a sister named Mary!

Because one of Mark’s disciples is “James the son of Alphaeus” Papias assumes this is the same as James the lesser, and therefore the Mary that was at the cross was the mother of James, wife of Alphaeus/Cleophas. There is a claim that “Cleophas” is the Greek for the Aramaic “Alphaeus” but this is problematic.

Papias writes that Mary, wife of Cleophas was the mother of James, Simon, Thaddaeus, and Joseph. He then writes that James and Judas and Joseph were the sons of an aunt of Jesus (presumably this Mary.) He goes on to repeat that this Mary was the mother of James the less and Joseph.

The names attributed to this woman are:


What is immediately evident is that if Luke felt that Judas and Thaddaeus were the same person, and entitles them to be “brother” (not “son”) of James, this resolves the Thaddaeus/Judas question of Luke. It leaves the Matthew problem, as well as whether this was the same person as “Jude.”

Levi, Bartholomew and Nathanael are left unresolved. However, Papias intriguingly indicates that another aunt of Jesus was the mother of James and John.

This opens the possibility that James, Levi/Matthew and Thaddaeus/Judas were brothers; sons of Mary & Alphaeus/Cleophas. That James and John, sons of Zebedee, were cousins to James, Levi and Judas. All five were cousins to Jesus.

Of course this all rests on the plausibility that the mother of Jesus—Mary had another sister named Mary, as well as another sibling who all named one of their boys “James.”

Or is it more likely there is confusion between each author among the James and Mary’s?


A question of believability. In the past we have seen attempts to resolve two names (Lebbaeus and Thaddaus) by claims that it was the same person with two names and it was more plausible that it was human error. We have varying accounts as to the time, place and order of the calling of the disciples. We have various names as well.

The resolution of “two names” actually hurts the proponent of inerrancy when viewed in light of how many times, and the propensity of the authors to use more than one identifying mark for a Disciple. The explanation leaves unexplained as to why the authors would do so with the two named persons.

We see with Levi/Matthew that the author of Matthew intentionally modifies Mark in order to force the correlation, resulting in contradictions as well as questionable family alliances elsewhere. Thaddaeus/Judas appears to be the fall person. His name could be Thaddaeus, or Lebbaeus or Judas or Jude or Joses, or Joseph or any variety thereof.

What is more plausible—that he had all these names, or that any name convenient is attributed to him?

Nathanael is the most problematic, and attempts to claim it was his first name to Bar Tolmei as a last name is unsupported by any other example in Jewish use. Coupled with the Gospel of John’s penchant to be different than the others, it is more believable that this was a different name.

I would hold that it is more likely than not, taking in the evidence, the names contradict.

And now my feet are tired from the dance.


Anonymous said...

Wow! This is quite extensive. Great job. I'll be waiting to see an informed response from a Christian on this one.

Anonymous said...

I agree! This was a very interesting read, too. I knew there were plenty of contradictions in the Bible, but I wasn't aware of some of these details. Thanks for posting this well-thought argument. I enjoyed reading it.

I am interested, like John Loftus, to see what kinds of responses you get from Christian readers.

thomas4881 said...

Problem of Order
- According to Mark and Matthew, the first disciples called were Peter and Andrew together.
- According to Luke, it was Peter first, then Andrew later.
- According to John, it was Andrew first, then Peter later.

Those aren't contradictions. They'er different accounts by 4 witnesses. Also it is you who assume Andrew was called later when the text doesen't indicate that happened at all. It is you twisting the text to making up your own doctrine based on your own assumptions. That's extremist.
Problem of When
- According to Mark, Matthew and Luke, the calling(s) took place AFTER John the Baptist was thrown in Prison.
- According to John, the calling(s) took place BEFORE.

Uhhh, NO! You are assuming that the story is in full chronological order. Luke isn't saying that John the Baptist was put in prison before the callings. That is what you imply into the text.

What were the disciples doing?
- According to Mark and Matthew, Peter and Andrew were fishing; James and John were mending their nets with dad.
- According to Luke, Jesus used Peter’s boat as a platform to preach, then did a miraculous catch of fish with James and John. Who have been elevated to partners with Peter. James and John’s dad, servants and mending are all absent. So, too, Andrew.
- According to John, Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist, who brought Peter to Jesus.

This is 4 different accounts. They all don't include the same details. That doesen't mean the accounts are all happening differently. That is what you assume into the text to create your own contradiction. There is no contradiction there accept the contradictions you imply into the text.

Where were Peter and Andrew from?
- Bethsaida. John 12:21
- Capernaum. Mark 1:21-33 and Luke 4:31-38

John 12:21 21They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. "Sir," they said, "we would like to see Jesus."

Mark 1: 21They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. 22The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. 23Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an evil[a] spirit cried out, 24"What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!"
25"Be quiet!" said Jesus sternly. "Come out of him!" 26The evil spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek.

27The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, "What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him." 28News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee.

There is no mention of Peter and Andrew in those verses at all. Sadly, people read what you wrote and diden't even go to the Bible to find out you are lying. That just proves even more that you were never a Christian as the Bible confirms. It's proof that you never learned to study the Bible using heremenutics and exegetical principles.

Dennis said...

I don't have the time to look at every contradiction listed here but I did take the time to look at one:

Problem of Order
- According to Mark and Matthew, the first disciples called were Peter and Andrew together.
- According to Luke, it was Peter first, then Andrew later.
- According to John, it was Andrew first, then Peter later.

The first thing I did was read the account from John. Where does the book of John talk about Peter and Andrews calling? It doesn't! It only (and clearly) says that Peter and Andrew spent one day with Jesus. Did Jesus call them to be disciples on that day? Probably. The passage in John only talks about when Andrew and Peter first meet Jesus.

So the problem isn't with the Bible, it's with skeptics who perpetuate incorrect interpretations of the text.

I wish I had more time to look at all of the other claims of contradictions here as I am sure they would fall out like every other contradiction I have argued with DagoodS in the past.

Dennis said...

There is no mention of Peter and Andrew in those verses at all. Sadly, people read what you wrote and diden't even go to the Bible to find out you are lying. That just proves even more that you were never a Christian as the Bible confirms. It's proof that you never learned to study the Bible using heremenutics and exegetical principles.

This statement is harsh and uncalled for.

thomas4881 said...

dennis it's the truth. Why twist scripture and read into it a lot of assumptions and claim those assumptions are contradictions instead of possible contradictions? Also, if you looked at those verses John posted none of them say what he claims. Heremenutics and exegetical principles are to be applied when quoting scripture. John carelessly quotes scripture and wants assumptions to be facts. He gives himself the benefit of the doubt and accuses God of being the liar.

Anonymous said...

Thomas, this is not your Blog, and I did not originally write this Blog entry. Quit thinking you can answer everything someone posts here. You can't. Choose your "battles" wisely. The fact that you don't tells me you are uneducated and ignorant, and I don't suffer fools gladly.

You've had your say. Not why don't you give a more informed Christian the chance to respond. Maybe you'll learn something. You're done here (again). Wait and see, okay?

Jon said...

DagoodS, have you by chance read or heard of Eisenman's James, the Brother of the Lord. Apparently he develops a theory about some of the renaming that is occuring of the disciples and Jesus' brother James that reveals some interesting things about the development of Christianity. It apprently covers a lot of the issues you've discussed. Robert Price has a review here:


I haven't read it, but based upon Price's review it is on my list of books I want to read.

exapologist said...

A point that irritates me to no end: apologists argue that liberal NT critics adopt methodological naturalism, thus preventing them from taking miracle claims seriously -- it determines their conclusions from the beginning. This isn't necessarily so (can anyone honestly say that Christian moderate NT critics like James Dunn or Raymond Brown or Dale Alliison find problems with the Bible because they're methodological naturalists?). But they're utterly blind to the fact that they have an a priori commiitment to *methodological inerrancy*, which determines *their* conclusions from the beginning.

Anonymous said...

As to your question of who may be a neutral judge: you may be able to find a neutral judge in Christians who do not believe the bible is inerrant. They do not have a bias towards discrediting the Bible, as athiests and theists of other faiths would. They also do not have (as much of) a bias towards accepting everything at face value.

DagoodS said...

And so we continue the dance. Do I hear calls of “Resolution!”?

thomas4881 Uhhh, NO! You are assuming that the story is in full chronological order. Luke isn't saying that John the Baptist was put in prison before the callings.

How about Mark 1:14 and Matt. 4:12 as well? After reading all four accounts—what is more plausible: That John the Baptist was in prison before the calling of the disciples, or Matthew, Mark AND Luke were not writing in chronological order?

By what method do you use to determine when the writers are writing chronologically or not?

thomas4881: John 1:44 and John 12:21 indicate that Philip, Peter and Andrew were all from Bethdsaida. I apologize for the confusion, and edited my entry (a rare event for me) to clarify it for you.

You question where in Mark 1:21-33 Peter and Andrew are mentioned. But then you only quote to vs. 28. Was that deliberate? I would hope the readers actually peruse their Bibles and read it for themselves.

thomas4881 and Dennis – you both question my contradictions in the callings by “absence of evidence.” Just because it doesn’t say it, doesn’t mean Andrew was on the boat in Luke for example, or that Jesus called Peter before Andrew in John.

Ahh, but our method is NOT “any possible logical event” but rather what is more plausible Again, (and again and again and again and again, until I am blue in the face!) I will always concede that if we are to lower our standard to “any logical possibility” I would immediately and fully concur that every explanation is resolved within the Bible. Of course, as I point out (also “again and again and again”) this makes the Bible about as remarkable as a Grilled Cheese sandwich.


Rather than claim “what is possible” let’s do better! Show us that it is MORE plausible that Andrew as in the boat with Peter in Luke, not that it is possible. (Remember, the author notes James and John at the scene—why not Andrew?)

Show us that it is MORE plausible that Andrew decided after Peter in the Gospel of John to follow Jesus.

Have you two thought about the chronology necessary to maintain these four gospels? (And if you disagree with my proposed chronology, make one of your own!)

Andrew, a disciple of John the Baptist follows Jesus because he is enamored with him. Upon talking with him, Andrew discovers Jesus is the Messiah. Andrew brings Peter to Jesus who promptly renames Peter Simon.

Than night John the Baptist is thrown in prison.

Both Andrew and Peter are so impressed with Jesus…they go fishing.

The next day Jesus calls Philip and Nathanael, but is pressed with the crowd; he needs a boat. Seeing Peter, he utilizes Peter’s boat. (“Hey! Aren’t you the Messiah guy I met yesterday?”) Jesus apparently leaves Philip and Nathanael milling about the shore.

Jesus recommends throwing the net out to catch fish. Peter, previously impressed with Jesus, argues with him about the viability of doing so.

Meanwhile, John and James, Peter’s partners are washing their nets.

Sure enough, Peter drops his net, and a whole boatload of fish start coming in. Peter then calls for help from his partners, James and John. Zebedee and his servants watch. Philip and Nathanael point. Peter, embarrassed for not buying his brother’s claim that Jesus was the Messiah, proclaims “I am a sinner.”

They manage to get in the fish, and after this tremendous miracle, James and John sit down to mend their nets. Andrew joins stage left and begins to fish.

Jesus gets out of the boat and starts to walk on the shore. He sees Peter fishing (again) and Andrew fishing (for the first time) and says, “He follow me.” They think this is a smashing idea. Jesus keeps walking and sees John and James mending the nets busted from the big catch of fish, right after they were washing them. (I can’t get around the fact that Luke says as soon as the boats hit shore James and John joined Jesus. I can’t seem to fit in a time where they could be mending nets here. Oh well.)

Peter promptly forgets the entire fishing trip when relaying this to Mark. Matthew has never hear this tale (‘cause Peter forgot it.) John, another disciple, never heard the fishing tale either. (Forgot Andrew was a fisherman, remember?) Luke, the ONE author that is not claimed directly tied to a disciple, is the only person that knows this incident!

Still have Bethsaida vs. Capernaum I can’t seem to resolve either.

How plausible is it that we have this inane interactions going on? Would you really accept this from any other account if it was not in the Bible?

DagoodS said...

Thank you, Susan (Ayame) for the kind words. To my embarrassment I will admit that until this study, I did not realize that the author(s) of the Gospel of John did not know Jesus’ mother’s name, but believe her sister’s name was Mary. Two Mary’s (and three James) in one family. Imagine the family reunions! “Throw the ball to James!” “Which one?”

Jon Curry, I was aware of Eisenman’s book, but have not read it. To be honest, a friend of mine noted that it is fairly extensive, and when asked how to read it shrugged and recommended picking it up in the middle, because it is not necessarily straightforward. Kinda off-putting. The link to the review (and my recent perusal) has re-kindled my interest, though. Good link. Makes the same demonstration as to the confusing run around.

Dennis, Thank you for pointing out the harshness of thomas4881’s words. I simply shrug. Within his belief system, it is necessary that I was never saved in the first place. What is more important to me is how my arguments are addressed. Not whether I was a Hindu, Christian or former Scientologist, frankly.

DagoodS said...

Anonymous of 3:25 p.m.,

I agree that Christians who acknowledge that there are errors in the Bible would be great as “neutrals.” Can you get the Christian inerrantists to agree, I wonder?

Dennis said...

thomas4881 and Dennis – you both question my contradictions in the callings by “absence of evidence.” Just because it doesn’t say it, doesn’t mean Andrew was on the boat in Luke for example, or that Jesus called Peter before Andrew in John.

I think you are missing my point. The book of John does not record the calling of Peter and Andrew. Your assumption that it does is the source of problem with this particular contradiction.

exapologist said...

I agree with Anonymous' point as well: moderates like Dale Allison, John Meier and Raymond Brown are good examples of Christians who can be reasonably neutral in their NT scholarship. To me, they're worth listening to every bit as much as non-Christian moderates like E.P. Sanders and Paula Fredriksen.

DagoodS said...


I am sorry, but I did get your point. I hoped that by my pointing out the chronology and by your attempting to put one together, you would understand how completely implausible your point was.

You are quite correct that the Gospel of John does not record Jesus using the words “follow me” to Peter in chapter 1. ‘Course Jesus doesn’t use those words to Peter in Chapters 2 – 21 either. So are we saying that Jesus never said, “Follow me” to Peter, according to the Gospel of John? Of course not! We are talking plausibility. Have anyone, neutral, fundamentalist Christian, whoever you want read the Gospel of John and ask them when Jesus called Peter. The most plausible answer BY FAR is John 1:42.

In my history of arguing with inerrantist I notice a common tactic. Rather than look at the big picture, they divide the issue into smaller and smaller bits, and once it is small enough to say, “See? It doesn’t say that!” they feel they have reached a “Resolution!” Divide stories into individual verses. Verses into phrases. Phrases into words.

I like to look at the big picture and see how well this explanation fits. How plausible is it.

The author of Mark determined that the calling Peter was important to record. He indicates a certain situation, with a plentiful helping of details, as to how Peter became a disciple. The author of Matthew determined that the calling Peter was important to record. He indicates a certain situation, with a plentiful helping of details, as to how Peter became a disciple.

The author of Luke determined that the calling of Peter was important to record. Not only does he record the details of fishing, but goes much further in that with the exclaimed remark of “I am a sinner,” a miraculous catching of fish, a helpful fisherman, partners assisting, all culminating in such fervent devotion that they “pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.” (Luke 5:11) They did not even stop to mend their nets! (Sorry.)

If you hold that the disciple John wrote the Gospel of John we would be breathless to hear what he has to say. Unlike Matthew, Mark or Luke, he was actually PRESENT at this momentous occasion in which Jesus is first introduced to Peter, Andrew, James and John. {drum roll please} And He Says: “__________”

What??? He says nothing? No Boats? No nets? No crowd on the shore? No catch of fish? Not even a sardine? Its almost as if he was never there!

No, according to your point, the author of John decided to record some other occasion upon which Jesus and Peter crossed paths. This was not when Jesus called Peter. Can’t be. Why—that would be a contradiction, heavens to Betsy!

O.K., let’s see how plausible this explanation is. Simple question—when did this meeting occur in relation to Peter’s calling at the boat? After or before?

Before makes little sense. You do know that the boat (just like my chronology) incident would have to be the following day. According to John 1:43, the next day, Jesus calls Philip. But Matthew 10:2 says Peter was first. In other words, Peter would have to be called, at the boat, within a short period. But according to Luke 5:5 Peter worked all night. The only way I see this, as in my chronology, was to have Jesus meet Peter one afternoon, Peter work all night, and the very next day, call Peter at the boat.

They learn Jesus is the Messiah, but then act is if they do not know who he is the very next day?

Is that plausible? And, don’t forget, if John the Disciple wrote it, he would be focusing on a chance meeting the day before RATHER than the far more important calling. Is that plausible?

Claiming this meeting of John 1 occurred AFTER the calling at the boat seems…well…ludicrous. Possible? Sure. Maybe Jesus called Peter and Andrew to follow him, maybe they dropped everything to do so, maybe they completely forget the next day, maybe Andrew had to go re-find Peter and re-introduce him to Jesus. But that is not very persuasive. Not plausible at all.

So, Dennis, I think I have your point firmly in hand. In order to provide a “Resolution!” to the obvious contradiction of the calling of Peter/Andrew, you indicate that John 1:37-42 was not a calling. But that would mean you would need to provide a plausible (not possible) chronology as to when this meeting occurred in relation to Mark 1 and Luke 5 and Matthew 10.

Is that plausible?

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

A point on the 'two Marys" and "three James," which *ahem* may or may not be considered useful to Christians.

Jewish society, at the time of Jesus was polygamous, not monogamous -- at least in certain strata. This is shown clearly in the Autobiography of Josephus -- see www.sacred-texts,com under Judaism for the text. He makes a point that the brother with whom he was raised was the son of 'both his father and his mother,' a comment totally unnecessary in a non-polygamous society.

In fact, polygamy, if we accept the words of 1Timothy and Titus was allowed in early Christianity as well -- at least during the time of Paul, if you accept his authorship, until the second century if you accept the common argument that these were late books. This is, again, obvious, because, in the discussion of the requirements to be a bishop/deacon/overseer, the phrase is used "he must be the husband of one wife." But if this is a 'special requirement' for holders of those offices -- and the text seems clear that it is -- it CANNOT be a requirement on the Church as a whole.

Given that, it might be possible that Mary -- Jesus' mother -- had a sister also named Mary with the same father and a different mother. (Possible, but I do wonder if the polygamy was not mainly among the Jewish upper classes in Jerusalem -- which Josephus boasts his family was -- and not among the more rural people of Galillee.

Dave Armstrong said...

And now my feet are tired from the dance.

And my brain is tired from your furious break-dancing. :-) I think you have answered well, and are a most worthy opponent. I'm not the one to answer further. At this point I think it would require a Bible scholar with far more knowledge than I have.

I could, no doubt, pick at the edges of some of your arguments (others have sought to show that your proposed contradictions about the order and timing of calling fail), but it wouldn't affect you at all (even my relatively stronger arguments have no effect on you), and few Christians would care (let alone atheists), so it wouldn't be worth the time spent on it.

I would like to note, on the other hand, that there were several arguments and sub-arguments in my paper that you ignored, just so readers can know that what you present is by no means the sum or full extent of my argument. You hardly even cite my words at all.

Again, it's a clever, admirable reply. You continued on in the line of the argument I initiated, by dealing with two or more names, etc. I appreciate that, but in any event I still don't have the energy or technical historical / linguistic knowledge I think is required to continue this discussion and take it to yet another round.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I think that's the shortest Dave Armstrong comment ever! LOL

DagoodS - excellent and well-thought-out post. I remember when I used to think that simple 'harmony of the gospels' timelines resolved all possible contradictions! Yet I never heard of the 15 disciples or saw the inconsistencies you have pointed out, not in 30+ years. Thanks, and keep up the good work!

Dennis said...


Can you answer a simple question?

Does the book of John tell us that Andrew was called beter Peter?

A simple yes or no is all I need.

Dennis said...

I meant to ask:

Does the book of John tell us that Andrew was called before Peter?

DagoodS said...

Prup (aka Jim Benton),

I never seem to make any headway on determining whether polygamy was practiced and/or accepted within Judaism in First century Palestine.

I agree that “husband of one wife” is a curious phrase, and certainly could be interpreted as a response to polygamy. But I have never found any solid research either way.

Although you are quite correct that this would introduce interesting possibilities in the resolution of which father and which brother was assigned to which person.

You mention “rural Galilee” and I will confess that I have let my mind wander in an intriguing direction, not fully realized. (Meaning I could abandon it tomorrow.)

Zebedee had servants. (Mark 1:20) (removed by Matthew, by the by) Levi/Matthew (brother of Thaddeus/Judas and James) was a publican. Both, by implication, were wealthy. According to Papias, they, and Jesus, were all cousins.

Was Jesus and the disciples just a group of spoiled rich kids, wandering Judea for a year, and one of them (Jesus) got in over his head? Notice they never seemed to want for money (even after the resurrection) and how many of Jesus’ parables were tied to economics.

Just a passing thought I was playing with…

DagoodS said...

Dave Armstrong,

I will give you credit. You are one of the very, very few inerrantist that actually provided a method that was more than “any logical possibility.” In fact, I hope you could see, that I utilize “more plausible” myself.

Part of the reason I performed this exercise was to demonstrate that if we raise the method to the “more plausible” level, inerrancy fails. It can only maintain its existence by keeping the method so minimal, so broad, that anything can fall through.

I wish that you could see how inerrancy is a failed concept. It is not persuasive to those who see contradictions, and it only diminishes the Bible. It does not enhance it. As many (many, many) Christians maintain not only devout Christianity, but inspiration of the scripture without it—it would appear to not even be necessary.

No, I did not deal with all of your statements in your blog entry. You talked of Frank Zindler’s position regarding the disciples, and as Mr. Zindler’s arguments are not mine (nor is it my belief) I did not respond.

Nor did I respond to the “order” of the disciples as having any meaning. Yes, Bartholomew is next to Philip in 3 of the 4 accounts, but Thomas is next to Bartholomew in 4 of the 4 accounts. (Acts 1:13) Who is more plausibly “attached” to Bartholomew, using this method?

Further, if the authors had a “style” by which they attached names in a certain order, they equally had a “style” of listing more than one name, if known, of the disciple. Which style has more import in this discussion?

Dave Armstrong, I am not a worthy opponent. The material is all in my favor. If all the available evidence points to your client as being guilty, no matter how eloquent you are—you lose.

Inerrancy can only survive under the loosest of standards, which commits suicide on the very premise it was designed to defend—that the Bible is different.

DagoodS said...

Dennis Does the book of John tell us that Andrew was called before Peter?

Yes. I am surprised by the question. According to John 1:37-40, Andrew “followed” Jesus. According to John 10:4-5 &27, Jesus’ sheep listen to his voice, he knows them, and they follow him. Exactly what is portrayed with Andrew (and the unknown other disciple) prior to Peter even being introduced to Jesus.

How could Peter have been called before he had even heard Jesus’ voice? Quite, quite clear that Andrew was called first. According to the book of John. That is why I was surprised by the question.



You want us to be bound by the four corners of John chapter one, only. I see. And because the very specific term of “follow me” was addressed to neither Andrew or Peter, within those limited verses, I am supposed to reluctantly sigh and say, “No, the first chapter of the Gospel of John does not say that Andrew was called before Peter.”

Are you sure you want this? Because I will hold you to it. See, you are introducing a new methodology. A very, very strict interpretation that says we CANNOT make any inferences, we CANNOT make any statements that are not explicitly stated within the verses themselves.

Dennis, I would do back flips and somersaults if some inerrantist would hold to this method. Watch how it works, if we stay consistent within this method. According to Luke 5, Andrew was not present at the calling of Peter. Remember, you CANNOT infer or interject, or add anything whatsoever, and since Andrew is not mentioned, we cannot say he was there.

Uh-oh. According to Mark 1:16, Jesus called Andrew and Peter at the same time. Contradiction. Frankly, the ONE THING an inerrantist can NEVER do, is demand we are limited to solely the words within a particular passage.

No inferences. No resolutions. Just the words themselves.

So sure, you win this particular battle. I cannot explicitly state, “Jesus used the words ‘Follow Me’ to Andrew prior to Peter” (although the rest of John would state this) but you lose the entire war. Every contradiction I use, you can never imply, insert or interpret any other way than the very strict words themselves.

Do you see what you are doing? Because we do. When we assert a contradiction happens, you hold us to the highest level—that we are bound by the limited words within the passage, and CANNOT look to any other scripture, or any other passage, or any other source to review what happened.

On the other hand, the inerrantist, to maintain their position, is allowed the lowest possible method: “any logical possibility” in order to support their position, and they are allowed to make any allegation, chronological mix-up, supposition, possibility and even a miracle in order to support their view.

How strong is your position if the only way to maintain it is to use the lowest possible standard for yourself and the highest possible standard for those that disagree? That’s the best and only way an inerrantist can maintain inerrancy?

Don’t you see how, if it is THAT weak, it must be reviewed?

And even if it was not a calling (I maintain it was) how are you doing on that chronology of when this “meeting” took place as compared to the boating incident?

Dennis, I will keep asking, until you can put together a plausible explanation (NOT possible) as to when and how this meeting took place, in light of the other gospels and if you put Andrew in the boat in Luke 5, I will ask you a simple question:

Does the book of Luke tell us that Andrew was in the boat when Jesus met Peter in Luke 5?

Dave Armstrong said...

Hi DagoodS,

What do you mean by the term "inerrantist"?


Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

I still don't see how you get around the line:
"I was myself brought up with my brother, whose name was Matthias, for he was my own brother, by both father and mother;" in the second paragraph of Josephus' autobiography
Your 'rich kids' question is interesting. If the disciples were richer than generally supposed, it gives a slight weight to something I have been tossing back and forth in my head.
The idea of Jesus claiming to be the Messiah is ridiculous, given the idea of the Messiah as a warrior-King.
But the Messiah was traditionally expected to be accompanied by a religious figure who 'ratified him.' Could Jesus have seen himself in THAT role, maybe even expecting to inspire one of his disciples for the role?
Another off-the-top-of-the-head speculation, like yours, but maybe worth thinking about.

DagoodS said...

Dave Armstrong,

By inerrantist I would include someone who claims the Bible’s veracity is verified, in part, on the independent grounds of extraordinary internal consistency.

Dennis said...


I agree with you that inferences must be made as we read the Bible or any other book.

Here's the problem. If you want to claim the Bible is contradictory, then your examples should show contradictions of what is actually written, not what is inferred by an athiest who is trying to prove a contradiction. Do agree that incorrect inferences can be made? If so, how do we then know if the problem of a contradiction is because of an error in what was written and not a problem with what we are inferring?

Let me state that your inference that anybody who followed Jesus became a disciple must be incorrect. Many people followed Jesus around and never became a disciple. I don't have time to dig up references but the Bible records that there were crowds who followed Jesus around. If you are going to insist that anybody who followed Jesus only did so after they were called, you pretty quickly run into some problems. Let's call that a bad inference.

Here's another bad inference you made regarding the order of Peter/Andrew's calling:

According to Luke, it was Peter first, then Andrew later.

Did you actually read the account of Luke before you originally posted that?

Luke doesn't record the calling of Andrew. We don't see Andrew mentioned at all in Luke until Chapter 6 when Jesus calls all of his disciples together. How can you infer that Andrew was called after Peter? Why is your inference better than an inference that Andrew was called before Peter or at the same time?

Personally, I think the best inference to make is one that harmonizes the 3 different accounts of the calling of Peter and Andrew. When I say "different" accounts, I don't mean contradictory. We have 3 accounts that give us different sets of details. None of the details revealed to us are contradictory.

DagoodS said...

Dennis: If you want to claim the Bible is contradictory, then your examples should show contradictions of what is actually written, not what is inferred by an athiest who is trying to prove a contradiction.

Like the actually written names of the Disciples? Like the actually written locale of Peter and Andrew?

Look, if you think I have some bias, because of my atheism (I don’t—I have bias from my humanity), how about we come up with a method whereby we remove bias as best as possible? Perhaps a method of: what is more plausible to a neutral person? Someone who we both agree has no stake in the outcome of contradiction/inerrancy?

Peculiar how I propose that method over and over, yet the inerrantist shies away from it.

Let’s talk about inferences as compared to what is written.

First what is actually written: John 1 refers to a meeting of Andrew with Jesus in which Andrew discovers Jesus is the Messiah, then bringing his brother, Peter to Jesus. By John 6:8 (assuming some sort of chronology is in place) Andrew is a disciple.

Matthew 4:18 refers to Jesus calling Andrew to be his disciple.

Now inferences: I would hope it is safe to infer that at some time between John 1:35 and John 6:8 that Jesus called Andrew to be a disciple. It is not a question of whether but rather when.

What is actually written:

1) Jesus is walking on the seashore, spies Peter and Andrew fishing and simultaneously calls them to be a disciple. Matt. 4:18-20. Mark 1:16-18.

2) Jesus uses Peter’s boat to preach from, and simultaneously calls Peter, James and John to be disciples. Luke 5:10-11 No Andrew. (Remember, we are using what is actually written, not what can be inferred.)

3) Andrew follows Jesus, and subsequently brings Peter to Jesus. John 1:37-42.

For me, the most plausible inference is that the stories are contradictory. Human nature.

But you desire to align these tales. Fine. I am attempting to place the “When” in John, in light of Matthew, Mark and Luke. The most plausible inference is when Andrew started to follow him. You think this is a bad inference.

Show a better one. Show what is more plausible. Show a “when.” Show me Andrew following Jesus BEFORE being called. Show me Andrew realizing Jesus was the Messiah BEFORE being called.

More: Let me state that your inference that anybody who followed Jesus became a disciple must be incorrect. Many people followed Jesus around and never became a disciple.

We are not talking about “anybody.” We are talking about Andrew. Am I not on safe ground to claim that Andrew followed Jesus and Andrew was a disciple?

More: How can you infer that Andrew was called after Peter? [in Luke 5 & 6]

Because the author was specific as to who was called in Chapter 5—Peter, James and John. Are you “inferring” that the author intentionally did NOT list Andrew? How is that a good inference? Can you give a reason that is more plausible as to the author knowing Andrew was there, but not listing him?

Further, if you want “actual writing” and no inferences, Mark has James and John mending their nets when Jesus calls them, but Luke had them abandoning their boats and nets upon hitting the shore. When, within your plausible inference, did they have time to mend the nets?

More: Personally, I think the best inference to make is one that harmonizes the 3 different accounts of the calling of Peter and Andrew.

Great! Then how about that harmonization of the chronology as to the events of John 1 as compared to Luke 5, Mark 1 and Matthew 9?

You DO know, I presume, that every time I ask it, and every time you avoid it, the jury understands that this is a problem for you. Can you put together a chronology that is MORE plausible than good old-fashioned human contradiction?

You call it a “different set of details.” Fine, again. Provide us the full picture, incorporating ALL of the these “different details” within these four passages. And then try to sell it as more plausible.

Dennis said...


I am not trying to avoid giving you a hypothetical harmonization to resolve your supposed contradiction regarding the order of Peter and Andrews calling.

The problem I am having is that your claim of a contradiction is so baseless and relies so heavily on your specific inferences instead of what is actually recorded that a harmonization isn't needed. Clearly, what is recorded in John is not contradictory to what is recorded in the other gospels.

Let me demonstrate how baseless your claim of a contradiction is:

You originally stated:

Problem of Order
- According to Mark and Matthew, the first disciples called were Peter and Andrew together.
- According to Luke, it was Peter first, then Andrew later.
- According to John, it was Andrew first, then Peter later.

After pointing out to you that neither John or Luke tell us any kind of order, you defend your inference with the following statements:

1) Jesus is walking on the seashore, spies Peter and Andrew fishing and simultaneously calls them to be a disciple. Matt. 4:18-20. Mark 1:16-18.

I agree. Both Peter and Andrew appeared to have been called together here.

2) Jesus uses Peter’s boat to preach from, and simultaneously calls Peter, James and John to be disciples. Luke 5:10-11 No Andrew. (Remember, we are using what is actually written, not what can be inferred.)

You can't assume Andrew wasn't there. The passage in Luke mentions two fishing boats and only three specific names. There must have been others there and Andrew could have been one of them. You can't make an assertion that Andrew wasn't there just because his name isn't mentioned. Andrew wasn't part of the inner circle of disciples so maybe he was purposely excluded or maybe not included by whoever conveyed this story to the author of Luke. You do realize that Peter, James, and John were more significant than Andrew, right?

I am still confused as to how you can state "According to Luke, it was Peter first, then Andrew later.." Since you even admit that Andrew isn't mentioned until chapter 6 when a list of disciples is given, how can you claim that Luke tells us Andrew was called later? You have some explaining to do.

3) Andrew follows Jesus, and subsequently brings Peter to Jesus. John 1:37-42.

Where is it implied that Andrew and Peter continued following Jesus? John clearly states that Andrew followed Jesus to where he was staying and it clearly says he spent the day with him. Not days, but "day". How is this passage contradictory to the other gospels? If you want to infer that Andrew and Peter continued to follow Jesus then share with me what you are basing that inference on and why did the author of John mentioned that they spent the day with Jesus? Couldn't I make a stronger inference by this statement that they didn't continue following Jesus the next day?

Hopefully I have demonstrated to the jury that your charges aren't based on what is actually written but based on poor inferences. No need to give them a harmonization, they won't be out very long to come to a consensus on this one.

DagoodS said...


May I remind you that the methodology is “more plausible”? Not “what is possible.” The author of the Gospel of Luke associates Peter with Andrew. (Luke 6:14) The author lists three (3) named disciples as being called back in Chapter 5: Peter, James, and John. Andrew is conspicuous by his absence.

The question is not whether it is “possible” that Andrew was there. The question is whether it is “more plausible” whether Andrew was there. You have yet to provide even a single iota of evidence as to why the author of Luke would skip Andrew’s name, if he was there. (Especially in light of Luke 6:14)

Dennis: Where is it implied [in the Gospel of John] that Andrew and Peter continued following Jesus?

Are you serious? Are you honestly claiming that Andrew and Peter stopped following Jesus for a period of time? I will remind you that Matt. 10:2 says Peter was first. John 1:43 says “the next day” (after meeting Peter for the first time) Jesus called Philip. If Jesus called Peter prior to Philip, he only has from 4 in the evening to the time in the next day in which Jesus called Philip.

You seem to be hinting that the meeting of Andrew/Jesus/Peter of John 1 happened the day before the calling of Mark 1. Am I correct?

Again, though, the argument is not what is possible, but what is more plausible. Is it plausible that the author of the Gospel of John is careful to record a meeting between Andrew and Jesus and Peter, the day before they were actually called (and completely implausibly, at least Peter seems to have completely forgotten the events of the day before) but skips entirely the calling at the sea? And (if you claim John the Disciple wrote the gospel) the calling John was involved in?

Is that plausible? You are stuck on “possible” Dennis. I was writing this blog entry to those that claimed “more plausible.”

Dennis: I am not trying to avoid giving you a hypothetical harmonization to resolve your supposed contradiction regarding the order of Peter and Andrews calling.

Yet…no proposed chronology is forthcoming.

I will ask again. If my contradictions are so “baseless” and rely so heavily on my specific inferences, and so clearly not contradictory, this should be child’s play for you.

I will ask again: Provide a proposed chronology that is plausible.

I will ask again: Heck, at this point you have me so desperate, I’ll ask for a chronology that is possible! :-)

I will ask again: Provide a chronology that harmonizes the events of Mark 1, Matthew 9, Luke 5 and John 1.

I will ask again: Be sure to include every detail (and yes, we understand that each author may leave out details that others include).

I will ask again: I am looking, within this chronology, as to John the Baptist being thrown in prison, mending of the nets, and Zebedee’s servants.

I will ask again: (is it getting through, yet, Dennis?) If I appear a bit frustrated, there is a reason for that—I am. You make these grand assertions of “Resolution!” and, quite frankly, the easiest way to demonstrate that is to provide a proposed chronology.

I will ask again: I am not running from it—I welcome it. This should be child’s play. Yet you would rather dance with “Luke doesn’t mention Andrew in Chapter 5, so it is possible he is there, possible he is not, possible that Andrew and Peter stopped following Jesus, possible they did not,” and so forth.

I will ask again: Yet with all your words, we have yet to see a proposed chronology.

How many more times must I ask?

Dennis. Enough. I will not respond to any more comments on this blog entry from you until I see the proposed chronology. I hate to be insistent; but I hope by your performing this exercise, you will start to see how implausible the proposal is. Possible? Sure. Plausible? Not hardly.

Dennis said...

First, let me state that I disagree that a contradiction can only be resolved by presenting a case that is "more plausible". If you can present a case of a contradiction that is "plausible" and I can then present a harmonization that is also "plausible", then the contradiction is resolved. It's utterly silly to get into this "more plausible", "less plausible" game especially considering the fact that both sides of these debates are biased.

Now I see why you are screaming for a harmonization for such an absurd contradiction claim. You realize that your claim with the problem of "calling order" of Peter and Andrew isn't strong enough to stand on it's own so you want to me to present a harmonization that involves several other claims for contradictions. I have argued lots of other contradictions and this same game is played every time. I demonstrate that a contradiction doesn't exist and the skeptic avoids doing the respectful act of admitting the mistake and withdrawing the contradiction and instead wants to draw a laundry list of other contradictions.

I'll give you the chronology for this contradiction, but let's deal with them one at a time. Right now we are focusing on all the misinterpretations you made to support your claim that there are discrepancies between the gospels about the calling order of Peter and Andrew. If somehow the issue "mending of the nets" causes a problem with my chronology, then bring it up. Otherwise I will view trying to bring additional contradictions into our discussion a replay of the same old game of hand waving and pointing out unrelated contradictions in an attempt to cover up for a contradiction that has been answered and resolved.

Let's get back to our contradiction that you so clearly stated:

Problem of Order
- According to Mark and Matthew, the first disciples called were Peter and Andrew together.
- According to Luke, it was Peter first, then Andrew later.
- According to John, it was Andrew first, then Peter later.

I will once again point out that you Luke does not record the calling of Andrew nor can you claim that it is inferred. John doesn't tell us when Andrew was called. If you knew these facts at the time your wrote your post, then what you have done is deceptive. It is wrong for you to infer details that don't exist and then state "according to Luke" or "according to John". Instead of getting upset at me for stating this, maybe you can tell me how it is that you infer Andrew being called after Peter based on what is recorded in Luke.

You did it again when you said "Matt. 10:2 says Peter was first." Matthew 10:2 doesn't say Peter was the first disciple called. Matthew 10:2 says "These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee…" What does the author mean by "first"? Does that mean Peter was the most important? Or that Peter was the first to be given authority to drive out demons and heal as mentioned in the previous verse? I agree that this might be a reference to the calling order especially considering the order of James and John falls after Peter and Andrew as we see the calling order in Matthew 4. Also, I think an argument could be made that Andrew was grouped with Peter when the author labeled them as being "first" (whatever that actually meant). You can't definitively state that this verse says "Peter was first".

So here's your proposed chronology to reconcile John with the other gospels:

In John 1, Andrew and Peter only spend the day with Jesus. Once again, John 1:39 says Andrew and Peter "spent that day with him". After spending part of one day with Jesus, Andrew and Peter returning to their fishing career. I think it is possible that Jesus may have called them both to join him this day and that they may have declined the invitation because they did not feel worthy (see Luke 5:8).

The next day Jesus travels to Galilee (John 1:43) where he calls Peter and Andrew for the first or possibly second time and then calls Phillip later that day.

The question is not whether it is “possible” that Andrew was there. The question is whether it is “more plausible” whether Andrew was there. You have yet to provide even a single iota of evidence as to why the author of Luke would skip Andrew’s name, if he was there. (Especially in light of Luke 6:14)

Why do I have to prove that the detail of Andrew was just forgotten or completely left out? Do you ever forget to include names of people when retelling a story? Does that somehow discount your entire story or have some "more plausible" explanation? If you have such a strong argument against the Bible and your supposed contradictions are so strong, then why do you make such a big deal out of Andrew's name being left our purposely or just forgotten. Let's play the eerie mystery music and all wonder why Andrew was left out! DUM, DUM, DUM! What could this possible mean!? Sheesh!

Again, though, the argument is not what is possible, but what is more plausible. Is it plausible that the author of the Gospel of John is careful to record a meeting between Andrew and Jesus and Peter, the day before they were actually called (and completely implausibly, at least Peter seems to have completely forgotten the events of the day before) but skips entirely the calling at the sea? And (if you claim John the Disciple wrote the gospel) the calling John was involved in?

Why does this observation lend credibility to your position of this contradiction between John 1 and the other gospels? We all know that the author of John went out of his way to avoid even mentioning John, so that could be one reason. So what if this detail was left out? If your position is so strong, then why do you need to make a big deal out of details that are missing? I can think of many reasons! Maybe John just forgot to include it, ever write a book the size of the Gospel of John and forget to include one detail? Maybe John knew that the story was already covered in the other books so he instead focus on the first meeting of Peter and Andrew. Maybe the author of John just left the story out to keep his book from being too long. The author of John even tells us in John 21:25 that he purposely left out stories because he couldn't have recorded them all.

Thanks for taking your time for this discussion. Once again I would like to request that you focus this discussion on demonstrating that your claimed contradiction over the calling order of Peter and Andrew isn't utterly baseless. If you somehow feel that the "mending of the nets" has anything to do with the calling order of Peter and Andrew then by all means use that in your defense of my proposed chronology. I hope you have something stronger than "more plausible''s or questions about why some writer didn't include some mising detail. A well thought out contradiction would show the discrepency in what was written not what is inferred or where our imagination takes us as we wonder why a writer did not including some detail.

DagoodS said...

Montgomery Burns voice: “Exxxxccellent!”

Good on ya, Dennis. Now we have a chronology. Frankly, it gives me a chance to highlight even more problems in attempting to align these passages.

You can call it “hand waving” all you want. Re-read my blog entry. “Calling it” does not make it so.

The Chronology proposed will be in bold:

In John 1, Andrew and Peter only spend the day with Jesus.

Ah, but you decline to state when. Raising an interesting conundrum in itself.

First of all, we must return to the scene of the crime. John the Baptist is on the other side of the Jordan (John 1:28), outside of Galilee. He points out Jesus to two of his own disciples who leave John the Baptist, and physically follow Jesus.

Problem One: Mark 1:14 and Matthew 4:12 (and Luke 3:20 certainly implies it) all clearly state that John the Baptist was thrown into Prison before Jesus came to Galilee and started calling disciples. John 3:24 says it was after

The only way to harmonize this is to put John the Baptist in prison twice, maybe? However, according to Matt 4:2, Mark 1:13, and Luke 4:2, immediately after being baptized, Jesus went into the wilderness to be tempted for 40 days, and then came back to learn of John’s being in Prison.

As you are fond of what is literally written, and no inferences, it is fair to point out that the Gospel of John does not technically have a Baptism of Jesus.

So for our timing, to harmonize, we would have to propose:

1) John the Baptist baptizes Jesus;
2) Jesus goes into wilderness for 40 days.
3) John the Baptist is thrown in prison
3) Jesus returns and sees John the Baptist again (John 1:36)
4) So wait, John must have been released?
5) John is thrown back in prison
6) But why was John released?

‘Course this would mean that the authors of Matthew, Mark and Luke completely missed this second encounter with John the Baptist, after the temptation, but immediately before John the Baptist was arrested (again?) and the author of the Gospel of John missed the first encounter with John the Baptist and the temptation entirely, but happened to catch this second encounter on the very day of his arrest.

And it contradicts John 3:24 which says that John the Baptist had yet to be thrown in prison.

Is that plausible? (Frankly, I find this implausible to the extreme. But perhaps other inerrantists buy it.) A common tactic of inerrantists is to shove entire passages from one account between two verses of another—back and forth.

You also decline to say “where” Andrew and the other disciple spend the day with Jesus. Another predicament.

Problem Two: The two disciples of John the Baptist went to see where Jesus was staying. John 1:39. According to Matt. 4:13 Jesus lived in Capernaum.

(Quick side note. Matt. 4:13 has Jesus move to Capernaum AFTER learning of John the Baptist being thrown in prison, so even this “where” causes contradictions with our “when” above. Unless you want to say Jesus was staying somewhere else between Nazareth and Capernaum [yet another miss by Matthew] which brings me back to “where?”)

But Capernaum was in Galilee. If we are to align Matthew with John, then Jesus would have to take these two fellows from the other side of the Jordan river to Capernaum, which is in Galilee. Making your later statement of “The next day Jesus travels to Galilee” incorrect, as Jesus was already IN Galilee, by being in Capernaum.

We could try to utilize Bethsaida as a possible alternative, since according to the Gospel of John, Philip, Andrew and Peter were all from Bethsaida. (John 1:44) Again, this is contradictory to Mark 1:21-33 which indicates that Andrew and Peter were from Capernaum. While we don’t know exactly where Bethsaida is, the gospel of John indicates it is in Galilee. (John 12:21) Which leaves us with Jesus still in Galilee.

The best possibilities for where Jesus was staying are Capernaum or Bethsaida. Either one contradicts the other, AND contradicts your claim that Jesus was not in Galilee.

Where are you proposing Jesus stayed? Some place outside of Galilee that every Gospel writer missed? How much can they be missing and it still is plausible.

(By the way—yes I most certainly have missed names when recounting a story. Because I am Human! It is a very Human thing to do! How does it help your case that the Bible is divine by arguing (quite convincingly) that it demonstrates the same human limitations and capabilities as any other work?)

Further, you state: “In John 1, Andrew and Peter ONLY spend the day with Jesus.” (emphasis added) Where, exactly, does it state, “only”? You flip back and forth as to complaining about my inferring statements, but then inserting your own. The verses say the two disciples spent the day with Jesus. (John 1:39) Nothing about it being “only.”

How does the inerrantist get to add whatever language they desire and remain plausible?

Once again, John 1:39 says Andrew and Peter “spent that day with him.”

Actually, it does not. John 1:40 says that one of the two Disciples of John the Baptist was Andrew. John 1:41 says Andrew went to find his brother, Peter. John 1:42 says Andrew brought his brother to Jesus. Peter was not the other disciple.

After spending part of one day with Jesus, Andrew and Peter returning to their fishing career

Let’s talk about this “day.” They (the two disciples) stayed with Jesus until the tenth hour. 4 p.m. (No, the author did NOT use Official Roman time.)

We then have Andrew going to find his brother, Peter, telling Peter about meeting the Messiah, and then bringing Peter back to meet Jesus. (John 1:41-42) Jesus renames Peter to “Cephas.”

And this proposed chronology has Peter and Andrew then returning to their fishing career. Don’t forget, though, Luke 5:5 has Peter working all that night. Worse, you can’t even have Jesus in Galilee, under this proposed chronology, so whether Peter and Andrew were from Bethsaida (in Galilee) or Capernaum (in Galilee) they still have to travel back home, prior to going out fishing that night!

They literally do not have time to accomplish all this; and that is assuming no interaction whatsoever between Peter and Jesus! The chronology looks like this.

Andrew: Oh, my. Look at the time. Its 4 p.m. I must find Peter.
Run, run, run, run, run.

Andrew: Quick, Peter, I found the Messiah! The one John the Baptist has told me to look for. Come meet him.
Run, run, run, run, run.

Peter: Hi, Jesus.
Jesus: You are now to be called Cephas.
Peter: Gosh, I always wanted to meet the Messiah, but now I think I will go back to my fishing career.
Andrew: Gee, sorry, Jesus. I know you are the Messiah and all, but my brother wants to go fishing, and you know what brothers are like! Besides, we have to get to Galilee
Run, run, run, run, run.

Seriously, Dennis? This is even plausible to you? How does your chronology get Peter and Andrew all the way back to Galilee after meeting Jesus in time to fish all night? See, the more interaction you have with Jesus/Peter/Andrew, the less time you can get them back into Galilee to fish all night. The less time with Jesus/Peter/Andrew, the more implausible this scheme. They work so hard to find the Messiah, so when they find him, they go back fishing?

Oh. One other thing. Jesus had already healed Peter’s mother-in-law, according to Luke, prior to their meeting. (Luke 4:38) Now, it is possible Peter was not there. But does this chronology also contend that Peter didn’t know about it?

How plausible is it that Peter meets the man who his dedicated brother claims is the Messiah, who healed his mother-in-law, and Peter only wants to spend a few minutes with him? Because he must be off to fish?

I think it is possible that Jesus may have called them both to join him this day and that they may have declined the invitation because they did not feel worthy.

This is pure speculation and not necessary to the chronology. Further, the claim that elsewhere Peter believes he is not worthy so he follows Jesus is not a good argument that this time Peter believes he is not worthy so he DOESN’T follow Jesus. I was uncertain how it supports it at all, frankly. It really supports the exact opposite, true?

But since it is not necessary, we press on:

The next day Jesus travels to Galilee (John 1:43) where he calls Peter and Andrew for the first or possibly second time and then calls Philip later that day.

Shall we look at the verse?

“The following day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, and He found Philip and said to him, "Follow Me."

If I have this correctly, we simply insert a few events between the “Galilee” and the word “and,” right?

In our chronology, the author of the Gospel of John simply skipped over

1) Jesus preaching to the crowd,
2) Jesus seeing the a boat,
3) Jesus taking the boat,
4) Jesus preaching from the boat,
5) Jesus asking Peter to toss out a net
6) Peter catching a miracle of fish,
7) Peter asking for help from his partners (the author of the Gospel?)
8) Peter and James and John (the author?) being called
9) Peter and James and John (the author?) abandoning their boats and following Jesus,

The author goes from “I want to go to Galilee” skips all that and jumps right back in with “and now I am calling Philip.”

Ever see the movie The Blues Brothers? This makes me think of the scene where they are traveling up the elevator with elevator music, and it is so calm and serene, while the story cuts back to the chaos of all the police pulling up outside. First we see a calm elevator scene, THEN SIRENS EVERYWHERE. Calm Elevator. COPS RUSHING THE BUILDING. Calm Elevator. SWAT GOING UP STAIRS.

That is exactly what is portrayed. The Gospel of John with its calm forthright story, then cut to BIG MIRACLE AND CALLING. Back to calm Gospel of John…

You still didn’t deal with how John and James were called after Peter and immediately left their belongings in Luke, but were mending their nets in Matthew/Mark. I thought you wanted to harmonize all four accounts?

Finally, you indicated a bunch of “maybe” as to what the author of the Gospel of John wrote.

I contend that the authors of the various Gospels contradict each other because of lack of knowledge, and deliberate manufacturing of legend by either themselves or their sources. That answers every single one of these questions. Every time. No “maybe” necessary.

It is more plausible, more feasible, and as even you point out—the very thing humans do.

Thank you, Dennis, for at least providing a limited chronology.

All debate aside, is this really convincing to you? I mean the terrible timing, and jumping in and out of Galilee? Do you think you could convince a single neutral person that this was not contradictory? Just curous…

Dennis said...

Let's talk about "hand waving" since that is what you are clearly doing. I'm not just "calling it". I'll explain what it is and how we can see that you are employing this tactic to cover up your blunder of proclaiming a contradiction in the calling order of Peter and Andrew.

"Hand waving" is a tactic used in debate by a person who is trying to create a distraction for his opponent. After the opponent presents a good argument, the hand waiver will avoid directly addressing that argument by trying to bring up other unrelated issues.

Repeatedly I have asked you to defend the following contradiction:

Problem of Order
- According to Mark and Matthew, the first disciples called were Peter and Andrew together.
- According to Luke, it was Peter first, then Andrew later.
- According to John, it was Andrew first, then Peter later.

Repeatedly I have pointed out that the book John does not tell us that Andrew was called to be a disciple before Peter was. I have also repeatedly pointed out that the book of Luke does not record when Andrew was called to be a disciple. It seems that you are inferring these calling orders but you won't explain the basis for your inferences.

You are hand waving because you continue to avoid admitting what is surely obvious to everyone. Your supposed contradiction of the calling order doesn't clearly read from the text.

Since your contradiction reads "According to Luke…" and "According to John…", would it be too much to ask you to include specific verses where the book of Luke says Andrew was called to be a disciple and the specific verse were John says Andrew was called to be a disciple?

I now regret falling into the trap of giving you a chronology. See, this particular contradiction doesn't need to be harmonized with a chronology. The correct answer to this contradiction is to point out that you are implying a calling order between Peter and Andrew that anybody can crack a Bible and see doesn't exist in the text.

This particular contradiction continues to be passed from person to person because most people don't ever take the time to actually verify what is written. They assume DagoodS knows the Bible well and would never think of actually taking the time to verify what you have written. I am not accusing DagoodS of purposely employing this trick. I personally think he was duped just like most other skeptics who read this contradiction and never take the time to verify it. Time will tell if he ever uses the contradiction again. I bet he won't.

So now that I made the mistake of presenting a chronology, DagoodS has unloaded a laundry list of other contradictions that have nothing to do with the calling order of Andrew and Peter but are only related in that he thinks they present a problem for the order of events that took place around the calling of the disciples.

I wish I had the time to investigate each claim and reply to it, but I don’t have that time. Even if I did, I don’t think this discussion would progress very far. Look at how much time was spent on a this supposed contradiction that is so easily refuted once an open minded person actually realizes that Luke and John don't actually record the calling of Andrew.

Thanks again for this conversation. I am going to bookmark it. Someday I want to teach an apologetics course to the teens class at church. I am sure many of these kids have been sheltered from skepticism of the Bible and I would rather be the first person to show them a contradiction instead of some atheist who will employ any tactic to break their faith. I think this contradiction and your response to my objections is a textbook example of how skeptics react when their contradiction has been turned over and fully exposed.

I am looking forward to have another discussion with you. Maybe you should be more selective on the contradictions you choose next time so that we don’t get bogged down on one that is so easily resolved. As for your proposal that contradiction can only be resolved by the opinion of a neutral person will never happen. The Bible had such a huge impact on everyone living on this planet that it is almost impossible to find someone who doesn't already have a positive or negative bias of it that will slant their opinions.

Dave Armstrong said...

Supposed Christian irrationality and gullibility and special pleading with regard to "difficult" biblical passages and alleged "contradictions" is NOTHING -- not one-millionth as irrational and foolish -- conmpared to atheist metaphysical, polytheistic blind faith:


First things first, for heaven's sake!

Anonymous said...


Speaking as a Christian, I'm afraid I feel that - whatever quibbles you may have over tactics - DagoodS has routed you, and demonstrated the unsustainability of the inerrancy doctrine. If you wish to continue defending it, you must expend the same time and effort which DagoodS put into his last post, rebutting his comments one by one. Regardless of what you regard as your victory concerning the original point.

I don't believe, however, that you will make any headway without arguing that black is white - and that X or Y event must have occurred twice, etc. For me, this kind of exercise demonstrates the triviality of "apologetics" (of the conservative / textual, rather than the more philosophical Keith Ward variety). Losing the war, you are claiming victory in the battle, being reduced to throwing around accusations and trying to ignore the obvious: that the non-inerrantist's position is unanswerable, on a close scrutiny of the text. If it were not, why would non-evangelical scholarship have reached such conclusions more than a century ago? Mainstream opinion is mainstream for a reason.

Can one still be a Christian while accepting the findings of scholarship? (As opposed to "apologetics".) I believe so. May I recommend a little book which is published on the internet (google it) by a Methodist minister in Cornwall, England: "Why Bible-Believing Methodists Should Not Eat Black Pudding". This sensibly rebuts the inerrancy argument while offering an alternative way of reading Scripture, employing reason, tradition and experience as well as revelation. In fact, most Christians employ such tools anyway, to override a strict reliance upon the text - whether they admit it or not.

Dennis said...


I couldn't agree with you more. When I see DagoodS continually beg for irrefutable evidence that Bible is God's revelation to us, I ask myself if he ever applies his own skepticism towards his own beliefs. As an atheist, he has to believe that all matter was never created and has always existed and that spontaneous generation can happen (even though that theory was dismissed by most scientists centuries ago).


I really wish I did have the time to attack DagoodS' laundry list of contradictions. I couldn't so I focused on just one. I hope you were paying attention and could see the difficulty he had defend just that one. His tactic of hand waving and pointing to other contradictions is a game I see played all the time.

I really struggle with the idea of someone calling themselves a Christian and believing the Bible contains errors. Doesn't the term "Christian" imply being a follower of Christ? When we look at how Jesus handled the Old Testament, does this lead us to believe that we should pick and choose which parts are true and which parts are false? Clearly not. Jesus was the son of God and had the authority to speak whatever he wanted to say without quoting the words of mortal men, yet this is what he did. Jesus quoted the Old Testament very frequently. In Matthew 22:23-29 and Mark 12:18-24 we see the Sadducees trying to corner Jesus was a trick question and Jesus' response is "You are in error because you don't know the scriptures." If Jesus believed the OT contained errors, wouldn't it be odd for him to use it to rebuke the errors of the Sadducees? Please don't take offense at this statement, but it seems like you are more concerned with following the wide path of the mainstream than you are the example that Jesus left us. It was the "mainstream" religion that rejected Jesus and crucified him.

DagoodS said...


If you will permit me, the reason we seem to be talking past each other, is the differences in our methodologies.

Imagine we ask the question “What is the distance between Detroit and Chicago?” We could receive the following answers:

“280 miles”
“One hour”
“Five hours”

Depending on whether we are using the method(s) of measuring by distance, or time to travel by plane or time to travel by automobile, we obtain different answers. (Each answer is correct within its own method.) Once we understand the methodologies, we can understand why there are differences. Otherwise we end up with:

“It is five hours between Chicago and Detroit”
“It is one hour between Chicago and Detroit.”

In that scenario, neither understands that the other is using a completely different method and we can observe this ridiculous argument.

When writing this blog entry, I am using the method of “which scenario is more plausible” whereas you freely admit you reject this method. You are using the method of “any possible solution resolves the contradiction” which is a very different method indeed.

One of us is talking about the time it takes to travel by plane, the other the time it takes to travel by automobile.

Under the “more plausible” method, within the Gospel of John it is more plausible that Andrew was called prior to Peter, by introduction into the story, and simple chronology.

Under the “more plausible” method, within the Gospel of Luke it is more plausible that Andrew was called after Peter, by virtue of the fact that Andrew is conspicuously missing from Luke 5, even though Luke is copying Mark, and is aware of Andrew’s connection with Peter. (Luke 6:14)

When I wrote this blog entry, I made is deliberately clear that I was NOT using the “any logical possibility,” but rather was using the “more plausible” method.

You, however, desire to continue to use the “any logical possibility” method. If it is any help (and I thought I had long ago) I would whole-heartedly, fully, completely and unabashedly agree there is no contradiction under this method. Anywhere. In the entire Bible. Including this story.

Under the “any possibility” method, within the Gospel of John, it is possible that Andrew was called before, after, during, or died, observed from Heaven, and was brought back to life the calling of Peter.

Under the “any possibility” method, within the Gospel of Luke, it is possible that Andrew was called before, after, during, or introduced his Twin, also named “Andrew” as to the calling of Peter.

That’s what is so great about your method—it resolves any and all contradictions.

Under my method, it is more plausible Andrew was called before Peter in John, and after Peter in Luke. Under your method, Andrew could have been called anytime, anywhere, anyhow.

Is the difference clear, yet? We are talking about two completely different methodologies, here.

You keep insisting that you are winning, but you are only using your own method. You think I am having difficulty, but only under your own method.

The problem with your method is that it removes the Bible from being unique. The Qur’an’s contradictions can be resolved by “any possible contradiction.” So, too, the Book of Mormon. So, too, most human works. The Bible is one among billions of other works that appears to have a contradiction, but does not if we can produce “any possible” solution.

Even things we know and agree as contradictions appear as non-contradictions within this method. I already blogged on that.

The only reason I continued this discussion is that REGARDLESS of when Andrew and/or Peter was called, I was wondering how you could fit the events of John 1 into the other Gospels. I was aware of the other contradictions that would be introduced by any attempt to harmonize these events.

REGARDLESS of whether Andrew or Peter were called in John 1, as you can see, simply fitting these occurrences into what the rest of the Bible says creates a ridiculous picture. Possible? Yes. Plausible? Not hardly.

I understand completely why you regret writing the harmonization. I knew ahead of time that this would introduce MORE problems than it was resolving. Sure it takes care of coordinating with Luke 5. Just not the rest of the Bible.

This is analogous to a scientific proposal. If a student introduced a hypothesis that resolved one small problem, but also introduced numerous other problems that did not exist previously, it would be rejected. It fails to answer MORE than the previous hypothesis did.

Remember those old antennas on televisions? “Rabbit ears” we called them? And by turning and poking and prodding we hoped to bring a clearer picture? This is like our complaining about the reception, so you point out how if we stand 20 feet behind the TV and hold the antenna on our head, we get better reception.

We point out how, as effective as that is for reception, we can no longer see the picture! You complain that we are “introducing new problems” and all you want to resolve is how to get a better reception. You don’t want to talk about the fact that your solution, while resolving the immediate problem, introduces many, many greater problems—that we can’t see the picture at all, regardless of how good the reception is!

Part of the reason I continued the discussion was that, complain all you want, I was going to point out all the contradictions introduced by your harmonization. I don’t expect you to see it. (I hope you do, but don’t expect it.) However, there are others reading. Others that may want to research on their own. Others that may take up the study and realize the difficulties you present.

Dennis: When I see DagoodS continually beg for irrefutable evidence that Bible is God's revelation to us, I ask myself if he ever applies his own skepticism towards his own beliefs.

Irrefutable evidence would be wonderful! However, I would settle for some evidence at this point. We are looking for something that makes the Bible unique. Stand out. Be different than simply a human writing.

Using the least possible standard of resolving contradictions—“any possibility”—makes the Bible get lost in the crowd of Billions of other documents.

Dennis: As an atheist, he has to believe that all matter was never created and has always existed and that spontaneous generation can happen …

Ah. So you would prefer I believe in a God that was never created and has always existed and consists of three entities that are actually one, but act separately, while being singular?

Worse, the proponents of this God, while insisting he provided us writing, are too busy to defend it against a mere human skeptic. The only way in which to sustain the unique nature of the Bible is to develop a method that makes it less unique than a grocery list.

Rather than spend you time asking yourself what I do, or complaining about what I believe, I would prefer you spent your time explaining away these contradictions, even if I (gasp!) dare to point out that your resolutions of one contradiction collide and cause a contradiction elsewhere.

Dennis: Someday I want to teach an apologetics course to the teens class at church. I am sure many of these kids have been sheltered from skepticism of the Bible and I would rather be the first person to show them a contradiction instead of some atheist who will employ any tactic to break their faith.

What contradiction out of the Bible are you going to show them?

DagoodS said...


Thank you for your kind words. Personally, I feel the Bible becomes richer and more interesting upon eliminating archaically imposed dogmas such as inerrancy.

Wouldn’t surprise me if inerrancy disappeared within the next 100 years, and becomes a footnote of a forgotten anachronism.

As you can see, however, by saying such “apostasy,” you will quickly be lumped with me. Have people really reached the point that one must hold to inerrancy to be a Christian?

For fun, we could ask Dennis how the author of Luke interpreted this passage (odd he removed the references to “you do not know the scriptures.”) Or better yet, where Christ demanded inerrancy in the Tanakh. Or even more fun, what passage of the Tanakh was Christ referring to regarding marriage post-resurrection.

Rich said...

"Have people really reached the point that one must hold to inerrancy to be a Christian?"

I think for some people this would be a yes. We hate to be wrong! Just the manner of which the bible as we have it came to be should put up red flags about its inerrancy. How many times have you had to accomplish a task with a commitee? I wanted to find and re-read a book from an LDS author called Jesus the Christ because it seems that he puts the gospel stories into a chronology. I need to find it again to see for sure but if my memory serves me well it does. It should be interesting to read again. I read it like 20 years ago.
As always though a good discussion

Anonymous said...

"I really struggle with the idea of someone calling themselves a Christian and believing the Bible contains errors. Doesn't the term "Christian" imply being a follower of Christ? When we look at how Jesus handled the Old Testament..."

As you may know Dennis, much of C20th theology is rooted in a grappling with this very question, and there are many answers a good deal more plausible than inerrancy. Try Karl Barth, for instance.

However, I'm not interested (in this case) in talking theology, because that's to dance to your tune. I think I can paraphrase some of DagoodS' most recent post by saying that he argues "bottom up", while you argue "top down". And the prevalent mode of argument in our scientific times is: bottom up.

What I mean is, you proceed from a first principle which is theological: namely that the Bible is without error. It must be so, because of the theology you develop from the NT's descriptions of Jesus and your interpretation of them. Once that ("top") principle is established, you proceed ("top down") to demonstrate how it is *possible* that no contradictions exist within the Bible.

However as we've seen, your explanations do not have probability on their side. When challenged by a sceptic like DagoodS, you are in the uncomfortable position of having to defend them (hence the complaints about tactics, etc). But it's easier for you when *I* challenge you; because I'm a Christian, so you can sidestep the issues of detail and pull theological rank: i.e. surely, Lurker, if you believe the Bible contains errors, you are not a Christian!

That's why I'm refusing to dance to such a theological tune. Instead, I'm returning to the more objective question of possibility / probability which DagoodS introduced.

His method, in contrast to yours, is scientific. It is "bottom up". He looks at the facts and seeks to determine, and I think reasonably objectively, what is the most probable conclusion: namely that inerrancy is not sustainable. His refutation of inerrancy is not based upon sinful motives, lifestyle, etc: because, with most C20th theologians (as opposed to apologists), he accepts that one can still be a believer with all that this implies, while rejecting inerrancy.

As for my supposed infatuation with being "mainstream": far from it. I'm trying to be honest in my reading of Scripture. An honest reader is one who engages the brain; who respects the text by sifting what is actually there, without trying to explain it away on the ground of some prior principle. (For as DagoodS observes, the text actually gains in richness as a result.) On that basis, such a reader forms a view of how Scripture can and should be read, and what other influences - e.g. reason, tradition, experience - should form his or her spiritual life. Such a reader will not be dominated by the very understandable and human, but hardly "objective", wish for certainty and for black and white answers in everything.

This reader's method is better. The top down approach you espouse will end by landing you in some intellectual calamities, and you will never convince anyone unwilling to let their mind sleep. If as a matter of principle the Bible never contradicts itself... Jesus must have scourged the temple TWICE (How odd they didn't warn him off the second time!); there were feedings of both 5,000 and 4,000; the cock crowed six times. These are all genuine apologetic arguments; the last courtesy of Harold Lindsell, I believe in "The Battle for The Bible".

Needless to say, the worst offender of all is creationism. Proceeding from the "top" principle of inerrancy, its advocates argue top down for all kinds of strange things which a bottom up analysis thoroughly refutes.

For more on all this, take a look at James Barr's marvellous book Fundamentalism (SCM, 1977).

I'll be interested to hear your thoughts on these two contrasting ways of reading. But remember: no theological ad hominems. I'm not interested in your view of whether I'm a Christian or not.

Oh and DagoodS - no problem. Yes, it seems you and I are to be consigned to the same camp.

Rich said...

Very well put Lurker, and I agree with you post. I actually am really tired of the "Your not really a Christian" approach. Not as tired as they are here of the "you were never a christian" approach however. I like your camp better. Its a camp were intelligence reigns and you can converse freely without hostility. Be glad your consigned there.

Dave Armstrong said...

Hi DagoodS,

Now I see why you didn't want to meet for lunch: your personal situation, as explained in your introductory post. Of course, your anonymity would be safe with me (I have less than no desire to promote domestic discord), but I understand your concerns. If you ever change your mind, the invitation remains open.

I ran across an attempt to harmonize Matthew and John with regard to the calling of disciples, from a Reformed Protestant friend of mine, Sam Shamoun:


I'd be interested in hearing your opinion. I think it is at least as well-argued ("plausible"?) as your scenario.

This is answering a Muslim argument; showing once again that liberal Christians, Muslims, atheists, and cultists like Jehovahs Witnesses all utilize the same sorts of arguments.

I once replied, e.g., to a Muslim concerning the Trinity. I could just as well have been replying to a Jehovah's Witness, an atheist, or Unitarian. The arguments are interchangeable, like Legos in different sets. Falsehood has a droning sameness and many false belief-systems use the same timeworn arguments.

Dave Armstrong said...

Here is another "nutshell" examination of the chronology of the calling of discples, from a sermon:


There are many that see a huge contradiction between John’s account of the disciple’s calling and that of the synoptics (Matthew-Luke, see esp. Matthew 4:18-22; 9:9; Mark 1:16-20; 2:13-14; Luke 5:1-11, 27-21). The gospels, first of all, are not necessarily written in chronological order, but even so, the accounts in John regarding Jesus and His disciples can harmonize with the other gospels when we realize that John is an earlier account that doesn’t include a calling as much as it is an initial revealing of Himself to some of the disciples. While many of His disciples hung out with Jesus, it wasn’t until after John the Baptist was in prison that they actually, “Dropped their nets and followed Him.”

Even with Christ walking in their midst, it can take unbelieving minds quite a while to grow in their faith. John the Baptist himself struggled to really know who Jesus was even as he proclaimed Him to be the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:31, 33 cf. Matthew 11:1-6). He struggled when he was in prison to believe that Jesus was the Christ, even though God had clearly revealed that to Him.

His disciples didn’t fully understand who or what He was (Mark 6:52; 8:23). All of us who believe in Christ as our savior work from the premise of “come and see” to the calling of “come and follow” Jesus. In John, the disciples are being introduced to Jesus to “Come and see.” They are reluctantly splitting off from their mentor (John the Baptist) and taking his word that this is the Christ.




Dave Armstrong said...

And another crack at a reply (hooray for Google!):


Contradictions in Jesus' Early Ministry?


In John 1, Jesus begins his ministry immediately after his baptism, but in the other accounts he begins his ministry after a period of forty days in the wilderness immediately following his baptism. Is there a way to reconcile these texts? Another apparent contradiction is the manner in which Andrew and Peter were called.


Actually, John the Evangelist doesn't record Jesus' baptism. He does record, however, that John the Baptist spoke of Jesus' baptism as a past event at the time of the interaction regarding John the Baptist and Jesus recorded in John 1. Thus, while the other gospels record Jesus' baptism and subsequent temptation, John picks up the story some time after that period. In other words, John the Evangelist does not claim that the first things he records regarding Jesus' public ministry were actually the first things Jesus did in his public ministry (though clearly they were early).

Matthew 4:12-18 and Mark 1:14-16 indicate that this particular call of Andrew and Peter took place after Jesus had begun his public ministry, after he had returned to Galilee, and after John the Baptist had been taken into custody. The events in John 1:40ff. took place while Jesus was still in Judea (i.e. before he returned to Galilee) and before John the Baptist had been taken into custody. John 3:22ff. confirms John 1:40ff. by telling us that Jesus already had some disciples (including presumably Andrew and Peter) before John the Baptist was arrested. The best explanation seems to be that prior to the call in Matthew 4 // Mark 1, Jesus' disciples were not dedicated full-time to the task of studying under Jesus. After their time with Jesus in Judea, they returned to their fishing careers. Then sometime after John's arrest, Jesus called them to full-time discipleship, which is the account we read in Matthew 4 // Mark 1 (which also explains why they apparently followed him immediately and without question).


Dave Armstrong said...

And yet another site that tackles this objection:


Finally, here is an extremely in-depth treatment of synoptic Gospel chronology in general:

The Problem of Apparent Chronological Contradictions
in the Synoptics



In light of all this material I found today, I must retract an earlier statemnent of mine:

"At this point I think it would require a Bible scholar with far more knowledge than I have . . . I still don't have the energy or technical historical / linguistic knowledge I think is required to continue this discussion and take it to yet another round."

Now I don't think it "requires" a Bible scholar or great technical knowledge to resolve the alleged "problem." It just took some very intense, close analysis of the different texts. It takes a lot of work, but it can be done by a layman like myself.

So I wanted to clarify this. At the same time, I do not necessarily want to continue the discussion myself. Knowing you, you would raise about 1,427 further objections and take it in even more directions. Nothing will ever satisfy you in this regard. Even if this is "solved" to your satisfaction, so what? You'll just move on to 3,803 more supposed "contradictions" that you enjoy mulling over.

We Christians are under no illusions that you'll be swayed by any of our arguments. But we think that a person who is open to hearing both sides of an argument (note: this is different from a "neutral" person, as you like to posit) can be, and we are confident that Christians can see that there is no difficulty here that should cause anyone to lose faith or cease beliving in biblical inspiration.

DagoodS said...


What an excellent post. I appreciate someone that says what I want to, only better than I can.

It is people like you (and rich) that make we wish we could interact with the…ah…more liberal side of Christianity more.

Thank you.

DagoodS said...

Dave Armstrong,

Well, color me confused. First you claim to be interested in my opinion, then you say you do not necessarily want to continue this conversation. Do you want me to respond or not?

I did think it was interesting that you switched methodologies on me. Did you notice? All of the links you provided (with one exception) fell back to the “any possible solution” rather than “what is more plausible.” Did you have to reduce your methodology to maintain inerrancy?

In essence, these links provided indicate two things to be addressed:

1) That some of the disciples were hanging around Jesus for awhile prior to becoming disciples; and

2) John the Baptist was arrested during this time they were just hanging around, but prior to Jesus calling them as disciples.

Let’s deal with the first one. How long, exactly, were these disciples hanging around Jesus prior to their calling? John gives us two (2) days at the most! I notice none of these links dealt with that problem at all. Frankly, the timing is reduced to Dennis’ chronology.

Since you intimated you have done some “very intense, close analysis of the texts,” I assume you are familiar with John 1:19, 1:43 and 2:1. This indicates:

Day One: Andrew and other spend day with Jesus
Day Two: Jesus leaves for Galilee, and calls Philip (and probably Nathanael)
Day Three: Jesus is in Cana of Galilee for his first miracle with his disciples.

Peter is introduced at the end of Day One, and is with Jesus in Cana as a Disciple on Day Three. If he was first, as Matthew states, and Philip was called on Day Two…well Peter couldn’t have “hung around” Jesus very long. Further, between Day One and Day Two, Peter has to get back to Galilee and spend a night fishing.

Dennis’ chronology, for all its faults, was really the best chronology one can offer between Luke, Matthew and John.

The second issue presented by your links is even worse. First of all, Mark 1:14 says John was arrested prior to Jesus preaching in Galilee. Luke 5 has him preaching in Galilee. Under this chronology, the best one can offer is that John the Baptist would have to be arrested on the night of Day One.

(Anyone with any history will note that I indicated that in a proposed chronology long, long ago. I wonder if I actually thought about this prior to posting it? hmmmm.)

Further, I assume within your implied “very intense, close analysis of the texts,” you came across John 3:22 – 4:2. This is a passage between a Jew and John about baptizing. (Notice in particular vs 24 that emphasize this happened before John was imprisoned.) They were comparing John’s baptism with Jesus’. Only 4:2 indicated it was Jesus’ disciples that were baptizing.

Now, can you explain YOUR links’ claims, when this section makes it clear that Jesus had disciples baptizing prior to John being put in prison? How could the Disciples be called after John was put in prison, but be Jesus’ disciples baptizing before he was put in Prison?

Now, I looked up your links.

The one exception was The first link (answering Islam) I couldn’t get the site to come up, so I don’t know what it said, or what its methodology was. Hence the one exception.

The next link(s) (harambeechurch) failed to address John 3:22 – 4:2. In fact, the author either did not know of the passage or deliberately did not address it. Charity would have me prefer the former.

The next link (thirdmill)) also failed to address John 3:22-4:2

The next link (lookinguntoJesus) assumes Andrew was present in Luke 5. Further, it fails to deal with the mending of the nets, nor Matthew saying Peter was first, nor the different names, nor where the Disciples were from, nor getting Peter and Andrew from outside Galilee to Capernaum overnight, etc.

Sure, it tackled this objection. Then the objection got up and beat it to death.

The last link (xenos) was a harmonization of the Synoptics. You DO realize the problem with that, right? Which Gospel is missing from the harmonization?

Of course I am going to raise objections. Unlike your links, I have actually read the Bible itself! Can I emphasize that enough? Unlike your links, I look for a chronology that actually fits with ALL of the Biblical accounts, not merely the limited area the inerrantist wants to focus on, hoping we skeptics will not actually have the audacity to go out and read the rest of the Bible.

Dave Armstrong said...

LOL You're very clever. I'll give you that. One would expect no less of a lawyer. Goes with the job. But cleverness can easily mutate into sophistry.

As predicted, you would blithely dismiss everything. So there is no point in continuing. I was simply providing some links for your perusal. Think of them what you will. It ain't like I was holding my breath to observe your spectacular reversal of opinion.

You and you alone judge what is plausible and what isn't, and so you always win, because in your judgment, your judgment is always the most plausible!

A flawless system for unvanquishability in argument if ever there was one . . .

Dave Armstrong said...

Oh man! Why didn't we Christians think that we should actually read the Bible as you do? Thanks SO MUCH for reminding us to do that. What would we do without you?

The answering Islam argument was the best one (the most in-depth). Here it is again, just in case it works for your this time:


If not, here is an alternative from the Google cache:

I look forward to more entertainment: your casually blowing this off just as you do all Christian arguments. Apparently you never met one that you think is rational or has any plausibility, at any rate.

Anonymous said...

The Bible is SPIRITUALLY DISCERNED folks - stop reading it like a wooden, crime-report [where facts are recorded to be presented in court]. The Bible is not designed/written to be interpreted this way.

The Gospels are not an overwhelming logical construct that is designed to bamboozle you into intellectual submission and cajole you into believing in Christ.

But I do not suppose any of these will get through to you sir.

Is it not always the case that Blog-OWNERS [especially those that would educate us on the "error" of our faith-based ways] are the true INERRANTISTS?

This sentence summarises perfectly my experience of debating them on this particular platform: "You and you alone judge what is plausible and what isn't, and so you always win, because in your judgment, your judgment is always the most plausible!"

Then again; is it not great to have someone putting us Christians on our toes?

DagoodS said...

Dave Armstrong,

If you do not want me to “casually blow off” Christian arguments, how about giving us one that is not casually slopped together?

I now am able to read this last link. Three problems;

1) It was a harmonization between John and Matthew ONLY. No Luke. No Mark.

2) While you claim to have a methodology of “more plausible” you only link to sites that use “any possible solution.” Every link you provided uses this methodology. Not your own. So why link to them?

3) This chronology requires that the Twelve were not at the temple cleaning of Jesus. But other disciples that Jesus picked up (in Galilee?) were. Do you find that more plausible? That the Twelve were not present?

What evidence do you use for the proposition that it is more plausible that the Twelve were not present at the temple clearing?

Dave Armstrong: Oh man! Why didn't we Christians think that we should actually read the Bible as you do? Thanks SO MUCH for reminding us to do that. What would we do without you?

I apologize. It becomes SO FRUSTRATING when the Christians that tell me that the Bible is unique, and special and truthful, and the divine providence of the sole God, yet cannot bother to read it as much as a skeptic. “Not enough time,” I hear. “Too hard to argue with a skeptic,” is the cry.

Every link you cited causes contradictions with other passages, not included and not dealt with in their apologetic. Every one.

In fact, they point to the strength of my argument by failing to do the one thing I request—deal with all four accounts. Deal with the entire Bible in preparing a chronology. By deliberately only using 2 out of the 4 or 3 out of the 4, they demonstrate for me the inability to provide one using 4 out of the 4

Look at what this skeptic is doing—actually daring Christians to read the Bible. Actually begging them to know it better than I do. And all I hear is whining and complaining of how it is too hard, and I set it to too high a standard, and it is too difficult, and there is not enough time, and so on and so forth.

Of course I have met Christian arguments with plausibility. There are carefully researched, framed together in an attempt to even convince the skeptic, and provide insight into the entire Bible, and not the minute immediate issue in front of their face. Rarely do I see a Christian argument with plausibility that is solely designed to reinforce the Christian’s own premises by ignoring what the skeptic says.

Further, Dave Armstrong, why complain about me holding something as plausible? Our history is clear. I have asked, begged and pleaded with you to provide me with the identification of the people we should use to make the determination of “more plausible to whom?” And you have skirted the issue every time.

I propose we do NOT use me. No sirree. I propose we use a completely neutral person. You claim no such entity exists. Am I back to begging to know who we are to use to make the determination of “more plausible”? You don’t like me using me—who do you propose I use?

DagoodS said...

Conclusion (at least by me)

I started this blog with the intent to discuss the naming of the disciples (believe it or not) with a person who indicated that we would use the methodology of “more plausible.” I carefully laid out (what I thought) was a fairly complete argument.

As discussions are wont to do, we became focused solely on the circumstances around the calling of the Disciples. That is fine—that is how discussions go.

The one thing that (I think) is necessary to discuss this in light of the various gospels, is a coherent chronology, taking into account all the details of all the gospels which is more plausible than various authors giving various accounts.

I have asked and asked and asked, and apparently I am asking for too much. Until such a chronology is provided, I think further discussion on this issue is a waste of time.

Yes, I know it is difficult, but I spent a great deal of time on the blog entry. Is it too much to ask a Christian at least spend equal time on a response that actually addresses it?

We are now at more than 50 comments, and no such chronology has been proposed. (Although, to Dennis’ credit, he did attempt to frame a portion of one.)

Thanks to all who provided input. While the inerrantists may believe this was an effortless affair, I learned quite a bit and appreciate the opportunity to do so.

Rich said...

You always have well thought out and informed opinions and I always enjoy reading them. I appreciate the compliment and I think I try to be honest when posting here. Wether agreeing or disagreeing I try to gain an understanding of your position. I look forward to more discussions. I still haven't been able to get around to the book I mentioned earlier because my 5 yr old daughter is a world queen in a pageant system and that is consuming alot of time and money, especially money :) I am interested to look into other sources and see if there is a "more plausible" chronology to be had. I wish you well for the new year.