In response to the question of why the authors of the New Testament sometimes contradict themselves, I’ve so far discussed two phenomena: (1) sometimes (as with Paul) an author changes his mind about something over time, and (2) sometimes an author (as with John) incorporates a number of earlier sources in his or her writing when these sources are sometimes at odds with one another, thereby creating discrepancies, or “literary seams” as I called them in my previous post. Now I deal with a third and final thing (there may be more explanations, but these are the ones I’ve thought most about). In my view, authors – not just NT authors, but authors in general (and whatever we can say about the writers of the NT, at least we can say they were authors!) – often simply are careless and don’t notice mistakes.
This is not only true of authors, it’s true of readers. Very often, when I point out internal discrepancies, for example, in the Gospel of John or in the Book of Acts, I have someone ask me, incredulously – “How could an author *do* that? Surely he would have noticed!” Most often, when someone asks me that, what they’re really saying is that the discrepancy can’t be there, because the author was no idiot and would not have left it there. The implication, then, is that I’m the idiot (!) because I think there’s a discrepancy that can’t be one because they author would never have allowed such a thing. (And often the implication is “besides, he was inspired by God so there must not be a mistake there….).
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