Thanks for such an interesting debate, Bart. Here goes with my final response:

In my view, a genuine contradiction between two texts occurs when those texts carry mutually exclusive accounts, i.e. accounts where, if one account is correct, the other cannot be. In the examples you have cited, you have failed to show that the so-called contradictory accounts are genuinely mutually exclusive. You have therefore failed to provide any examples of genuine contradictions.

Sure, the examples you’ve cited are, on the face of it, contradictions, but only if one doesn’t go beyond the surface and if one is insistent on applying contemporary values to the practice of ancient authors. It seems to me that the so-called contradictions you’ve cited are akin to saying that the following two accounts are contradictory: 1. Yesterday, Alice enjoyed a meal with Bob in New York. 2. Yesterday, Alice spent the day with Bob in London. But these accounts are not contradictory. They do not present mutually exclusive events, and their failure to each give an exhaustive account of the day is neither here nor there. You might not like the fact that the two accounts have been very selective, but that does not mean there is a contradiction.

Similarly, no mutually exclusive events are mentioned in the examples you’ve cited, and there are therefore no contradictions.

In the case of your Luke 24 example, we know from Acts 1 that Luke knows that there was a period of forty days between the resurrection and ascension. That he chooses to omit this period from his prose in Luke 24 is neither here nor there: it’s a pretty standard piece of literary selection for an ancient author. It does not imply a genuine contradiction.

In your argument, you seem to be taking the text merely at face value and not even entertaining the possibility that Luke acted like an ancient author, as well as assuming the very worst of Luke: that he was a hopeless historian who couldn’t make his mind up about whether the forty-day period happened or not. Surely a far more honest assessment is to assume that, like many ancient authors, Luke simply chose to omit an event that he knew to have happened. I suspect that you take a contrary view not because of any sound reasoning but rather because it’s something that you believe. In other words, you have an intrinsic prejudice against the text: you assume that Luke got it badly wrong and that the surface level of the text is all that there is, rather than the more natural assumption that Luke knew what was going on but simply chose to omit a particular time period from one account.

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