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Biblical Contradictions

Date: 04-18-09
Host: Ian Punnett
Guests: Bart Ehrman, Billy West

Ian Punnett was joined by Bible expert and author Bart Ehrman for a discussion on the apparent contradictions found in the New Testament. Many lay people are unaware of these discrepancies as well as the historical findings on the Bible, he said, because "scholars have done such terrible job of communicating with normal human beings." Ehrman believes that knowing more about troublesome passages can actually help people better understand the Scripture, and to that end he provided some specific examples of inconsistencies in the Bible.

On the question of when Jesus died, Ehrman pointed out that the Gospel of Mark (see Chapter 14) indicates it was the day after Passover, while John's account (in Chapter 19) records it as occurring the day before the Jewish holiday. According to Ehrman, John changed the historical date to make a theological point about Jesus being the Passover Lamb of God. Ehrman presented the different details surrounding the demise of Judas as well. Matthew (27:5) says Judas "went and hanged himself," while the Book of Acts (1:18) records, "he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out."

Ehrman spoke about the formation of the New Testament, noting how the collection was a result of theological conflict among different Christian groups and not a decision handed down by a Church council. Gnostic texts, such as the Gospel of Thomas, were not included in the Canon, though they provide information not found in the four Gospels, he added. Ehrman also mentioned the New Testament story about the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11). He said the account is not found in the earliest manuscripts and was likely inserted into the Gospel of John some centuries after the Canon had been closed.

Man of Many Voices

In the first hour Ian spoke with Billy West, the voice artist best known for his roles on The Ren and Stimpy Show and Futurama. West talked about his career as well as performed some of his most memorable characters, including Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd, Professor Farnsworth, Dr. Zoidberg, and Stimpson J. "Stimpy" Cat.

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Check out Ian's latest musings and insights at his blog site.

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Dr. Alasdair Coles, an Anglican priest and lecturer in neurology at University of Cambridge, has reviewed several brain imaging studies involving people of faith in an attempt to discover if there are unique brain signatures for religious experiences. Coles concluded that there were "no differences in the signatures for verifiable or unverifiable beliefs," meaning the brain image of a Madonna fan humming along to one of her songs would likely look the same as one of a religious person singing a spiritual song. More at USA Today.

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