The HyperTexts

Bible Contradictions and False Prophecies

compiled by Michael R. Burch

Is the Bible the infallible, inerrant word of God, of does the Bible contradict itself? It is quite clear that the Bible contradicts itself. Here are some rather obvious examples ...

For example, the evangelist Paul gave a clear teaching about women being able to speak in church, but another Bible writer (pretending to be Paul) completely contradicted him by saying women could not speak in church, in the same book, 1 Corinthians!

It is clear that Paul considered himself to be a prophet: "For I [Paul] would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ." (Galatians 1:11)

Furthermore, Paul said: "If anyone thinks he is a prophet or spiritual, let him recognize that the things which I write to you are the Lord's commandment. But if anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized." (1 Corinthians 4:37-38 ) So Paul clearly described himself as a prophet and said that anyone who contradicted him was not to be recognized as a prophet.

In 1 Corinthians 11, Paul clearly says that women are allowed to pray and prophesy in church. In this passage, Paul is speaking about proper behavior in church: how to dress, how to take communion properly, how to pray and prophesy, etc., and he says: "But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head—it is the same as having her head shaved. For if a woman does not cover her head, she might as well have her hair cut off; but if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should cover her head." (1 Corinthians 11:5-6)

Here, Paul is saying that women can be prophets, and pray publicly, as long as they cover their heads. But in the same book a few chapters later, someone pretending to be Paul contradicts him, saying: "Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church." (1 Corinthians 14:34-35)

How can women prophesy if they are not allowed to speak? There are other Bible verses attributed to Paul in which he clearly saw women as being leaders of the church. For instance, he called Junia one of the foremost apostles, and Junia is a female name. But there are other verses attributed to Paul in which he also clearly said that women should not speak in church, or teach. So clearly there are contradictions.

Another example of one prophet contradicting another in the Bible has to do with hair length. In the NT, Paul (or someone pretending to speak for Paul), says that it is a shame for a man to have long hair.

But in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament), the men consecrated to God, the Nazirites, never cut their hair. Judges like Samson and prophets like Samuel never cut their hair. It seems likely that John the Baptist was a Nazirite, because he didn't drink wine, and that was another Nazirite vow.

It seems unlikely that the writer of the "no long hair" verse was actually Paul, because Paul was trained as a Rabbi and would have known about the Nazirites. In fact, Paul even took a Nazirite vow when he returned to the Jerusalem temple. As long as the vow was in effect, he would not have drunk wine or cut his hair.

But there is a clear contradiction, with most of the Bible teaching that men can have long hair, and never cut it, and that this is not shameful, but a sign of consecration to God.

A third example of one prophet refuting another prophet is rather ironic. The prophet Ezekiel (or a Levite scribe pretending to be Ezekiel) predicted that Nebuchadnezzar would sack Tyre and leave it uninhabited forever. But he was later refuted by another prophet, himself! He admitted that his prediction was false, since after many years of trying, Nebuchadnezzar was unable to sack Tyre, because it was an island fortress with a formidable navy. So the prophet (or Levite scribe) predicted that Nebuchadnezzar would defeat Egypt and leave it an uninhabited waste for 40 years. But that never happened either, as Egypt has been continuously populated for thousands of years. The prophet was also refuted by two other prophets, as both Jesus and Paul visited Tyre, which remains populated to this day.

Perhaps the most obvious refutation of one prophet by another occurs between the Levites, who prophesied that they would always make sacrifices in the temple, and prophets like Jeremiah, who said that God did want sacrifices, but compassion and justice, predicting that the Israelites would lose the land and go into captivity if they kept up their evil ways.

The prophecies of the Levites that they would always offer sacrifices in the temple, and that an heir of David would always occupy the throne of Israel, were soon refuted. The temple was destroyed. The Levites went into captivity. Ten of the tribes of Israel were lost forever. For hundreds of years there were no sacrifices in the temple because the temple did not exist. Then Herod rebuilt the temple and the sacrifices resumed. But almost immediately the temple became corrupt, and it was destroyed again, never to be rebuilt. So once again the prophets of the Bible disagreed with each other.

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