Sunday, December 30, 2007

Oops. Jesus made a mistake.

In reviewing the Gospel for the Feast of St. Stephen the other day, it occurred to me (well, it had occurred to me many times over the past many years, but usually I just didn't pay much attention) that Jesus made a mistake. He referred to "all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar." Of course he was referring to the first murder in the canonical Hebrew Bible (Genesis 4) and the last (2 Chronicles 24; 2 Chron. is the last book in the Hebrew arrangement). But it isn't Zechariah ben Barachiah, who is the prophet who presumably wrote the Book of Zechariah, it's Zechariah ben Jehoiada (his father Jehoiada was high priest at the time of King Joash of Judah), who was stoned in the temple courtyard at Joash's orders.

Well, maybe Jesus didn't make the mistake. Maybe Matthew made the mistake. The mistake doesn't occur in Luke's version, so either Matthew added the mistake or Luke corrected it from the earlier Jesus tradition. In either case, Matthew 23:35 contains a mistake.

Is this a trivial mistake? Absolutely! (The New Oxford Annotated Bible notes the error, explains it, but does not make a big fat hairy deal of it, as well it shouldn't.)

And my point is...?

The text of the Bible contains errors. Some of them are utterly inconsequential, and not worth a lot of discussion. Some of them may be more significant, and worth some careful reflection.

In any case, folks who claim to believe in a literally inerrant Bible need to get honest, or get smart, or both.

As God says to such folks, "You really just don't get it, do you?"

1 comment:

Anders Branderud said...

Yes, NT contains mistake. We agree.

How to know if a book contains the instructions of the Creator? What if some book contradicts Torah – which is not allowed according to Devarim (Deuteronomy) 13:1-6 ?
Every religious book which contradicts Torah is defined by Devarim 13:1-6 as illegitimate.

Such a book also contradicts the teachings of Ribi Yehoshua (the Messiah) from Nazareth. You can read more about him and his teachings at

Have a nice day!
Anders Branderud