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The Contender
Con (against)
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The New Testament Contains No Genuine Contradictions of Consequence

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/27/2011 Category: Religion
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,438 times Debate No: 18507
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (4)
Votes (1)




The New Testament - The 27 books of the established cannon recognized by the Christian Church.
Contains - Contradictions that are WITHIN the text. It is not a viable argument to present the New Testament as contradicting with anything outside of the text, including Science, the Church, Other Religions, Other Documents from the 1st Century, etc.
Genuine Contradiction - An actual contradiction. An example of two texts that cannot both be true.
Consequence - A contradiction that poses actual threat to the meaning of Christian doctrine. The converse would be trivial contradictions, such as slight variations in dates or counting. Such trivial contradictions are typically easily explained, or pose no challenge to the truth being taught or the accuracy of the historical retelling.

Rules and Debating Proceedure
In the first round, Con must present any contradictions they believe are insurmountable. Please number them for clarity of response (Contradiction A, B, C, etc).

In the following round, I will respond to the contradictions and attempt to explain how they are either A) Not Genuine Contradictions, or B) Not Contradictions of Consequence. Con may respond in round 2 either with challenging my response, or presenting new contradiction (or both).

In Round 3 I will respond to his challenges or new contradictions. In round 3, Con may only respond to my answers.

In round 4 I will respond to his challenges. In the close of round 4 Con may not present new arguments or responses to my challenge (that gives us each 3 rounds since my first round is being used only to describe rules). In Round 4 Con will enter "Closing Round" or something similar. If Con presents new arguments or rebuttals in Round 4, they are in violation of the terms of this debate and forfeit all 7 points to Pro for the debate.

A note about Burden of Proof
This debate does not have burden of proof in the way normal debates do. My burden of proof will be to reasonably explain any apparent contradictions that Con identifies. Con's burden of proof is to provide adequate biblical citations so that I may find the passages he is referencing. In addition, please use the ESV as the translation (It can be found at as it is both accurate and readable, and using only one translation prevents us from slipping into confusion over variant readings in different translations. If space is a premium, ESVonline provides a link shortening service to link to verses. Simply type reference and you will get a link. For example. will link to John 3:16. Ths stipulation does not cast the original Greek texts out of bounds, and is simply to avoid falling into conspiracy over varient modern translations.

Limitation of Space
Since it takes more space to answer an apparent contradiction than it does to claim one, My opponent will be limited to 5 active contradictions. If he wishes to add a new contradiction, he will be required to drop a prior contradiction. Dropping a contradiction equates to acknowledging that contradiction as invalid.

If there are any questions, please pose them in comments prior to accepting the debate. By accepting you agree to all the stipulations and rules that have been given above.


I would like to thank ReformedArsenal for this challenge and hope that I can learn something from this debate. As the rules say, I will be staying in the New Testament alone and will be using the ESV as my opponent requested.

Contradiction 1: From which of David's sons did Jesus descend?

A. Solomon

Matthew 1:6-7 (ESV), "and Jesse the father of David the king. And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah....(eventually to Jesus).

B. Nathan

Luke 3:31,
"the son of Melea, the son of Menna, the son of Mattatha, the son of Nathan, the son of David,"

There is a discripancy with which of David's sons was the ansestor of Jesus. This is important as the messiah will come from Solomon, not Nathan. Therefore, the whole of Christianity rests on the messianichood of Jesus. If Jesus fails to meet this requirement, then he is no messiah!

Contradiction 2: Was Jesus born of a virgin?

A. No

Romans 1:3, "Concerning his Son [Jesus], who was descended from David according to the flesh"

Some translations put it as the "seed" of David according to the flesh. The word seed, in this passage literally means "Sperm." Take, for example, what Strong's has to say:

1) from which a plant germinates

a) the seed i.e. the grain or kernel which contains within itself the germ of the future plants

1) of the grains or kernels sown

b) metaph. a seed i.e. a residue, or a few survivors reserved as the germ of the next generation (just as seed is kept from the harvest for the sowing)

2) the semen virile

a) the product of this semen, seed, children, offspring, progeny

b) family, tribe, posterity

c) whatever possesses vital force or life giving power

1) of divine energy of the Holy Spirit operating within the soul by which we are regenerated

It is interesting to note that according to the flesh seems to indicate an ordinary book. In his book, The Atheist Bible Companion to the New Testament, Mike Davis, a historian, notes: "Paul here declares that Jesus was descended from David according to the flesh.This connection with David was necessary in order to support Jesuss claim to be the messiah. (See, for example, Jeremiah 23:5-6.) However, to say that Jesus was descended from David according to the flesh ontradicts the virgin birth stories of Matthew and Luke. Both Matthew and Luke, though they trace the ancestry of Joseph back to David in their conflicting genealogies, break off at Joseph and relate that Jesus was sired by the Holy Spirit, so that Jesus has no father in the Davidic line, and is thus not descended from David according to the flesh. "

B. Yes

I will not get into much detail here. However, according to Matthew chapter 1, the virgin birth is vital in order to fulfill Isaiah 7:14 (which, by the way, was fulfilled in the next chapter!).

Contradiction 3: What year was Jesus born

A. 6-7 BCE

Matthew states that Jesus was born during Herod the Great's reign (Matthew 2:1, "Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem,")

We know that Herod died in March of 4 BC. Therefore, Jesus could not have been born any later than 4 BCE.

B. 6-7 CE

The problem arises in Luke 2:2, Qurinius was govenor of Syria, but that is impossible because Herod died in March of 4 BC and this census took place in 6-7 CE, about 10 years after Herod's death!;

We can concludet hat there is a contradiction between the two texts.

To summarize:

1. Which of David' son's did Jesus descend from?
2. Was Jesus born of a virgin? and
3. When was Jesus born?

Please clear some of these up. Thank you.
Debate Round No. 1


I would like to thank Patzer24 for participating in this debate. I look forward to a rigorous and engaging debate.

Contradiction 1: From which of David's sons did Jesus descend?

This discrepancy is a complicated question, however it is not insurmountable. Part of the answer is revealed in the nature of Jewish Geneaological Traditions.

The purpose of a geneaology in ancient Hebrew cultures (as is the purpose in most cultures) was to establish a legal inheritance lineage. Since inheritance was passed down through the male lineage, Hebrew culture did not typically include women in the geneaological tree.

Simply put, Matthew traced the lineage through Jesus' legal standing as a legal son of Joseph. This legal establishment traces him up through Solomon by way of legal inheritance.

Luke however, traces the lineage up through Mary (Likely having interviewed her). However, as Mary was legally joined to Joseph at the time of Jesus' conception (betrothal was a binding contract that required divorce to annul) it would be improper to indicate Mary rather than Joseph. However, we can see that he does not consider Joseph to be Jesus biological father by including the parenthetical (as was supposed).

Contradiction 2: Was Jesus born of a virgin?

As I indicated in my resposne to "contradiction" 1, Mary was also descended of David, so according to the flesh he was a descendent of David. The word "spermatos" is used broadly to indicate descent. In addition, the very definition that my opponent quoted we see that the final definition includes the activity of the Holy Spirit, which is exactly what the Gospels attribute Jesus' birth to.

Contradiction 3: What year was Jesus Born?

My opponent points out the aparent historical descrepancy present between indicating that Jesus was born during Herod's reign (ended 4BCE) and during Quirnius' reign in Syria (Began in 6-7 CE).

There are several possible answers to this.

Option 1) The accepted date of Herod's death is wrong
Option 2) The accepted date of Quiriniu's rise to power in Syria is wrong
Option 3) Both dates are wrong
Option 4) The Bible is wrong

Obviously, Option 4 is out of bounds for this debate, so I will not address it.

However, Let me explain why the other three are possible.

Option 1)
We have several records that indicate that Herod captured Jerusalem and began rebuilding the temple. These dates range from potentially 45 BCE all the way to 34 BCE. The historican Josephus indicates that this capture took place during a Sabbatical Year and a Year that Tishri 10 fell in September. This greatly limits the possible years. This excludes 45, 42-37, 35-34 BCE. Josephus also indicates that Herod's reign lasted 34 years from when he captured Jerusalem. This leaves us with possible death dates of 9 BCE, 8 BCE, and 1 BCE. Now, we see flat out that these dates do not match the accepted date of 4 BCE. In addition, if Luke and Matthew are both correct then we know that Herod may have died later (in AD 6-7 during the reign of Quirinius). I have shown two historical documents (The Gospels and Josephus) that contradict the accepted date. Unless my opponent can show that both the Gospels and Josephus are incorrect, we can safely say that the traditional date that is given for Herod's death is potentially incorrect. [A]

Option 2)
Many point to Quirinius' rise to power in 6-7 AD and believe that this proves that either Luke or Matthew was wrong. However, there are several reasons to doubt this assertion. We know (as much as we know any historical fact) that Quirinius did rise to power in Syria in 6-7 AD. However, "It is known that Quirinius was made governor of Syria by Augustus in AD 6. Archaeologist Sir William Ramsay discovered several inscriptions that indicated that Quirinius was governor of Syria on two occasions, the first time several years prior to this date" [B] If this prior rule was even as many as 10 years earlier we already have him during the potential dates of Herod's reign. As we have seen in the case of Herod, dates in this period of history are not always reliable.

Option 3)
Both are wrong, I have demonstrated that either could be wrong, so obviously both could be wrong. If Herod's dates were a little later (Demonstrably as late, having Jesus born in aproximately 3 BCE) and Quirnius' dates were a little earlier (Reasonably as early as 3-4 BCE) we hae no conflict.

Thank you, I look forward to future rounds.

[B] Habermas, Gary R., The Historical Jesus: Ancient Evidence for the Life of Christ, Joplin, MO: College Press Publishing Company, 1996. - Quoted from;


I want to extend a thank you to ReformedArsenal for his attempts at harmonizing the passages.

Contradiction 1: From which of David's sons did Jesus descend?

The question is more complex than my opponent realises. As a Jew, I understand the transmission of genealogy. My opponent is 100% correct in assertion that the purpose of the genealogies was to establish a legal inheritance.

D. A. Carson, in his book, "The New Bible Comentary," correctly notes: "The theory that Luke really gives us the family tree of Mary rather than of Joseph is improbable. The theory with least difficulties is that Matthew gives the descendants of David down the royal line (i.e. who was heir to the throne at any given time), but Luke gives the particular line to which Joseph belonged" [1]

Let us now look at some other issues with this.

First, Luke made mary a relative of Elizabeth in Luke 1:36, which we know is a descendent from Aaron. Immediately, this makes Mary a member of Aaron and not David.

Secondly, the Jews do not transmit birthright by their mother. St. Jerome points out, "It is not the custom of the scriptures to count women in their genealogies." Therefore, a genealogy traced from Mary's side is of no value in determining the descendents from David. [2]

Contradiction 2: Was Jesus born of a virgin.

The problem, of course, lies in the fact that both father and mother are vital in determining the genealogy, and thus the Messiah. Another fatal flaw is that the whole Virgin Birth theory causes God to sin, however, I will not go into detail with that in this debate.

Contradiction 3: What year was Jesus Born?

I believe that my opponent brought forth extremely good evidence for my opponent's assertions and therefore, I drop this argument. I will admit that my opponent brought forth good evidence that assums that both dates are wrong. Josephus is considered to be a reliable historian and thus my opponent, is most likely, correct.

Contradiction 3: How many animals did Jesus Ride/The Disciples bring back (to replace the last contradiction).

A. 2

Matthew 21

Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying,
“Say to the daughter of Zion,
‘Behold, your king is coming to you,
humble, and mounted on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’”
The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them.

B. 1

The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written,
“Fear not, daughter of Zion;
behold, your king is coming,
sitting on a donkey's colt!”

Not only is there a contradiction as far as who found the animal, but also how many there were! (Consider that 3 and 4).

Thank you.

[1] Carson, D. A. (1994). New Bible commentary : 21st century edition (4th ed.) (Lk 3:23–38). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., USA: Inter-Varsity Press.

[2] Tobin, Paul. Rejection of Pascal's Wager
Debate Round No. 2


Thanks to my opponent for his responses. I look forward to continued dialogue.

Contradiction 1: From Which of David's Sons did Jesus descend?

My opponent has committed an Appeal to Authority Fallacy. I respect DA Carson greatly, but I disagree with him, and so do other scholars as well as Church Tradition. The fact is this, unless my opponent can prove that my explanation is impossible (or highly improbable), I have resolved the contradiction.

In regard to his assertion that Mary was a member of Levi (Aaron) rather than Judah (David), this is a hasty conclusion. If Elizabeth was Mary's maternal aunt, and Mary's father was descended from Judah (David) then Mary would be of Judah and not Levi. This is only one possible configuration that would result in Mary benig from Judah and Elizabeth being from Levi.

I agree that Jews do not trasnsmit birthright in this manner, which is the purpose of the legal geneaology of Matthew. Luke seeks to establish the biological lineage of Jesus, while Mathew seeks to establish the legal geneaology of Jesus.

Furthermore, Judaism observes something called "Matrilineal Descent" in establishing the Jewish identity of a child. That is to say that determining if Jesus was Jewish or not would be determined by his mother's lineage, so a maternal lineage is valuable and necessary.

Contradiction 2: Was Jesus Born of a Virgin?
My opponent asserts that "both father and mother are vital in determining the geneaology. However, in the immediately prior line he indicates that the maternal lineage was so insignificant that it wouldn't even be mentioned. My opponent cannot have it both ways.

Furthermore, regardless of this, there is no contradiction in the Scriptures. Romans indicates that Jesus was descended from David, and Jesus' mother was also descended from David. No contradiction.

Contradiction 3: What Year was Jesus Born?
My opponent has dropped this contention.

Contradiction 4/5: How many animals did Jesus Ride/The Disciples Bring Back
There are three issues here, I will deal with them separately.

In the Greek the Genetive Plural for Masculine, Feminine, and Neuter are all identical in ending (Omega-Nu). It is therefore impossible to identify if the "them" refers to the "donkey and the colt" or if it refers to "their cloaks." However, context makes it more likely that "them" refers to the cloaks (He sat on their cloaks) rather than the two animals, as it is difficult to sit on two animals at once, not impossible, but difficult. Grammatically, either is possible.

The next issue is that of agency. My opponent points out that in one part of the narrative the disciples find the animals, and in the other part Jesus does. This is a simple explanation. When the president gives a speech people say "the president's speech." When asked who wrote it, they often say "the president." Now, the president has a role, but he also had a team of speechwriters who did so. But to say that the president wrote it is not false. That is, if we say that the president wrote it or the speechwriters wrote it, both are true. One is a statement of direct writing, one is a statement of agency on behalf of the president. Since the president commissioned the speechwriters, it is done in his agency. This is no different. Jesus commissioned the disciples to find the donkey, they did so on his behalf and under his agency. To say that he found a donkey is no more or less true than to say that the disciples found a donkey.

The third is the number of animals. Currently I have a keyring with several keys on it. One of those keys is the key to my dorm room. If I say "I took my keys out of my pocket" and then later say "I used my key to open the door" neither are incorrect or contradictory. Simply put, if I have keys, I also have a key. Analogously, if the disciples brought a donkey and a colt, they also brought a donkey.

Thank you.


I thank my opponent for his superb conduct. As per the rules, I will not bring up any new contradictions.

From Which of David's Sons did Jesus Descend From?

My opponent has committed an Appeal to Authority Fallacy. I respect DA Carson greatly, but I disagree with him, and so do other scholars as well as Church Tradition. The fact is this, unless my opponent can prove that my explanation is impossible (or highly improbable), I have resolved the contradiction.

Okay, my opponent wants me to explain why his explanation holds no water.

1) Both gospels state that they are tracing Jesus' ancestors from Joseph's side. In fact, Luke always refers to Joseph whenever he talks about the ancestry of David.

2) Jews do not transmit genealogy by the mother's side.

To contention 2, my opponent admits that Jews do not transmit birthright from the mother. According to CON, the purpose of this is the reason why Mary is the legal genealogy. This provides a huge problem as the Messiah is to come from Solomon, as well as David. [1] The issue is Luke provides Mary's (?) genealogy as coming from Nathan, another son of David, and not Solomon. Thus, there is a bigger problem with CON's assertions.

Matrilineal Descent establishes the Jewish identity of the son, nothing else. What I am referring to, is Mary's genealogy is worthless in determining the tribe, the ancestors, or the messianicship of the son. I understand Jesus' messianichood is not what we are debating, but I feel that it is important to bring up the additional issue my opponent has brought up with this contradiction.

Contradiction 2: Was Jesus Born of a Virgin?

Explained above. Simply put, Jesus could not be a legal descendent of David if Jesus was born of a virgin.

Contradiction 3 &4: Triumphal Entery.

My opponent has brought nothing to the table to answer this contradiction. I believe the explanation that Matthew mistakes two animals for one is found in the LXX translation of Hebrew.

Matthew has made a blunder in his gospel. Two animals are mentioned in three verses, therefore it cannot be explained away so easily as my opponent thought it was. Notice verse seven says literally, "...on them he sat."

I believe Matthew misread Zechariah 9:9 which reads, "mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.' As a Jew, I am familiar with the old testament word translated, "and." In this passage, it does not indicate another animal, rather it should be, "Even." Because of the poor translation of the LXX, Matthew made this blunder. [2]

Thank you for such a great debate!


Debate Round No. 3


Thank you again to my opponent for his responses.

From Which of David's Sons did Jesus Descend From?
1) They do. However, we see based on the fact that the geneaologies do not match, that there must be a difference in the geneaological approaches. Do not forget, Luke and Matthew were both writing around the same time, and likely interacted with each other. In addition to that, people (like Mary) were still living and easily could have corrected the conflicting Geneaology. If there was not an explanation for why the two were both accurate and necessary, one would have fallen to the wayside or been corrected. Matthew is tracing Jesus legal geneaology through his adopted father Joseph. While Luke is tracing the biological lineage through his mother Mary but indicating that Joseph was his legal father. Simply put, they are tracing different lineages for different purposes.

2) Luke was not a Jew, why would we expect him to follow standard Jewish traditions in how lineage is described?

Was Jesus Born of a Virgin?
This respones has nothing to do with the context of the debate. We are debating if there are contradictions within the text of the New Testament. There is nothing to indicate that Paul was refering exclusively to the legal descent of Jesus, especially since he was writing to Gentile Christians in the book of Romans. Rather, he is discussing the biological descent of Jesus from David to Mary.

Triumphal Entry
My opponent can theorize all he wants as to why the "error" is present. The simple fact is that grammatically it is just as likely that the "them" in "On them he sat" could refer either to the cloaks, or to the two animals. (The genitive plural ending for Masculine, Feminine, and Neuter are all omega-nu so it is impossible to know based on the form of the word what it is refering to. Since it is easier to concieve of Jesus sitting on multiple jackets piled on a donkey than it is to concieve of him somehow sitting on both a donkey and a foal, it is likely that the author was refering to the cloaks)

If the contradiction being identified is that it states in one place that there was a donkey and a foal, and in another place that there was just a young donkey (foal)... if there is a donkey and a foal present, is not a foal present? If I hand you my jacket and my keys are in my pocket and say "Can you hold my jacket and keys?" and later ask you "Do you still have my jacket?" I am not excluding the fact that my keys are still in your posession. It does not make it contradictory, it simply means that in the first account I was more detailed in my description than I was in my second.

Thank you.


As per the rules of this debate, this debate is now over. Voters, I leave this in your hands. Before you vote, I ask that you ask yourself two questions:

1) Have I brought forth any contradictions of consequence? If no, then vote CON. If so, as yourself (2) Did my opponent sucesfully harmonize the scriptures? If yes, vote con. If not, vote pro.

I thank my opponent for this debate, please DO NOT VOTE BASED UPON YOUR BIAS OPINION.

Thank you for showing superb conduct.
Debate Round No. 4
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by Patzer24 6 years ago
Good debate! Care to debate again one time?
Posted by Patzer24 6 years ago
Okay, thank you for clarifying. I don't want to break the rules and lose because of that. This has been a good debate and am still analyzing your arguments. I should have it finished by tomorrow.
Posted by ReformedArsenal 6 years ago
No. The last round for you is basically "Thank you." This gives us each 4 rounds of argumentation.
Posted by Patzer24 6 years ago
Am I allowed to summarize in the final round?
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Rednerrus 6 years ago
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro defended the Bible's inerrancy and refuted Con's presented Bible contradictions very well.