Given from the Catholic Broadcasting Station 2SM Sydney Australia
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Yes. But there are no real contradictions. To prove a contradiction you must show that the texts are undoubtedly authentic, and that they admit of no possible conciliation. When supposed contradictions have been urged by adversaries, expert defending scholars have advanced various quite probable theories by which the difficulties would be solved. They are not obliged to prove one or other of their theories certainly true. The one who asserts contradiction declares that there is no sense in which both accounts could be true. The moment competent scholars offer a reasonable and probable explanation by which difficulties would be reconciled, necessary contradiction is excluded. Even if rationalist critics proved every suggested explanation to be unreasonable and certainly false, they would not necessarily have proved a contradiction in Scripture. At most they would have proved that interpreters had not yet discerned the correct method of reconciling an apparent divergence.
There are no inconsistencies in any single important matter. Each Gospel is a fragmentary account, and each writer gives complementary, not contradictory details. Supposing that I went from London to Rome for a three months' holiday, but on the way broke my journey for a week in Paris. Later on I might write to a friend, "I spent my holidays in Rome." Yet to another friend I could say, "During my holidays I stayed in Paris." There is no real inconsistency, although the friends, on comparing notes, might find an apparent inconsistency. But almost at once they would say, "He might have done both. The one does not exclude the other. He omitted to mention Paris in the one account, Rome in the other." So, too, with the Gospels. One Gospel will mention details which others pass over in their brief accounts.
Mistakes and interpolations were certainly possible, but by comparison of independent copies these are discoverable. Yet remember that the Catholic Church does not say that copyists were inspired. Inspiration is claimed for the original Evangelists. In so far as later copies or versions exactly correspond with their original writings they give the inspired Word of God. In so far as they are not exact, they do not.
Jesus was not the natural son of Joseph. But Mary, who was the Mother of Jesus, was related to Joseph, whose genealogy was also her own. It was a Jewish custom to record descent only through the male line.
Neither intended to give all the generations. The present Prince of Wales could say, "I was born of George V., who was descended from Queen Victoria." Another writer could say, "The Prince of Wales was born of George V., who was born of Edward VII., who was born of Queen Victoria." Both accounts would be right, although one would be inadequate. Why did St. Matt, choose to give 42 generations only? Because he wrote for the Jews, and wished to show that Christ was the Messiah, the Son of David. In Hebrew David's name consists of three letters, and those letters numerically signify 14. Thus D-V-D have the numerical signifiance of 4-6-4. Following a Jewish custom, St. Matt. gives three times 14, i. e., 42 generations, or the Davidic generation. St. Luke, on the other hand, chose 72, because, having been the companion of St. Paul, the Apostle of the Gentiles, he wrote for the Gentiles. Jewish tradition held that there were 72 races of men throughout the world, and St. Luke wished to show that Christ would call all nations to His religion. This may seem complicated to us, but it was not to the Jews of those times.
Many scholars have replied that Jacob and Heli were half-brothers. Upon Heli's death without issue, Jacob married his widow in accordance with the Levitical law to provide children to Heli. Joseph would thus be the natural son of Jacob, and the legal son of Heli. In this case, since St. Matt. gives the natural genealogy, and St. Luke the legal genealogy, we have two different yet correct lines of ancestry.
The obligation to do so does not rest with me. An adversary has failed to prove contradiction until he has succeeded in proving it incorrect. It would be very difficult to do so. Meantime, the theory certainly has its own probability in accordance with the Levitical law.
Others believe that they have a more satisfactory solution of the difficulty. The Jews disputed among themselves whether the Messiah was to come from David through Solomon or through Nathan. St. Matt. abstracts from the notion of consanguinity and deals only with the juridical rights of Davidic succession. A successor is not necessarily a son, and St. Matt. shows how the Davidic rights descended to Joseph and his legal son Jesus through Solomon. The genealogy given by St. Matt. has thus only a conventional value, and necessarily differs from the real and legal genealogy according to consanguinity given by St. Luke. Many modern scholars claim that this theory has greater probability than the preceding explanation, and would reply by denying the existence of the problem when asked to solve "the problem of reconciling the divergent genealogies." On their principles there would have to be divergence.
The expression meant everybody, whether in a given province or locality.
If men say that, ask them to prove it. If they could mention a thousand books which do not mention such a census that would not prove that a census did not take place, but merely that those books do not mention it. Josephus, in his Jewish Antiquities, describes a census of Judea; a census to which St. Luke refers in Acts V., 37. An ounce of positive evidence is worth a thousand omissions.
There was a previous census at the time of Christ's birth, of which Josephus makes no mention. St. Luke is a perfectly reliable historian. Both in his Gospel and in the Acts he proves his exact knowledge of Graeco-Roman affairs, and begins his Gospel with a reference to his diligence in verifying the facts he narrates. He would not at once proceed to make serious and easily avoidable errors. The census did not necessarily take place simultaneously in all parts, and the distinct census St. Luke mentions in his Gospel c. II., V., I could easily refer to a preliminary census according to Jewish customs. His very expression "In those days" suggests a long drawn-out process.
The English version has the words, "This enrolling was first made by Cyrinus, the governor of Syria." But a better translation of the Greek would be, "The first enrolling was made by Cyrinus, the procurator, or quaestor, of Syria." St. Luke knew of two distinct enrollings under Cyrinus, the first when he was procurator under Varus, and which he mentions in his second chapter of the Gospel; the second under Cyrinus as governor; an enrolling which he mentions in the Acts. It is not mere hypothesis that Cyrinus twice exercised authority in Syria; the first time under Varus, the second time in charge. It is the conclusion of the studies of Mommsen, and also of Zumpt, after his study of inscriptions dealing with this matter at Tivoli, outside Rome.
Both are equally correct. After the child was born Joseph and Mary waited 40 days for the Purification; then came the flight to Egypt, followed by the return to Nazareth, as mentioned by St. Matt. II., 23. St. Luke omits to mention the flight to Egypt, and mentions only the Purification, and the return to Nazareth. In II., 39, St. Luke says, "After they had performed all things according to the law, they returned to Nazareth." He does not say immediately after, and it is evident that he intends to stress the faithful observance of the law, not to fix the time of their return. Some people are only too ready to take an inconsistency for granted, and then to use their assumption as sufficient grounds for the denial of inspiration. This attitude is most unscientific. Also it must be noted that the argument from silence is very much abused. Remember that it has no value unless the author, according to his scope, be strictly bound to state what we find omitted. None of the Evangelists sets out to give every detail of Our Lord's life, and it is absurd to say, "This writer should have given what we desire, if it be true; but he does not give it; therefore he knew nothing of it, and it must be false." On such a principle, any historian who gives what another historian chooses to omit, could be accused of falsehood.
No. But he could quite well tempt an apparently human being whom his finite intelligence did not know for certain to be God, and in order to test his conjecture that he might be.
God cannot be carried anywhere. He is a Spirit, and not subject to local transportation. Nor is it honest to attribute to God, making no mention of his incarnate human nature, that which happened to that human nature. The Son of God in His assumed human nature was subjected to this temptation. There is nothing repugnant in the devil being allowed to carry a material object to a height. The devil is a spiritual being, and if God, a spiritual being, can create a material universe, a spiritual being can certainly receive the power to make displacements in the universe. As for seeing all the kingdoms of the earth, we can see in two ways--by eyesight, or by intellectual vision. In this case, mental vision was sufficient.
Yes. But the mere fact of their having proposed them is not very disturbing. Catholic scholars have in every case provided possible and probable explanations, according to which apparent divergencies are reconciled. Nor can any number of difficulties in interpretation destroy the value of the positive proofs of the authentic and inspired character of Sacred Scripture as briefly outlined under Nos. 103 and 109 above. Further difficulties will be encountered when we come to deal with particular phases of the Christian religion, but in the meantime the fact stands that as human beings we owe certain duties to God which involve the practice of a religion, and that we are obliged to accept from among all the religions in the history of mankind the religion of the Bible.