Are differences in the Bible considered discrepancies?

Hello L,

Thank you for contacting BibleAsk.

If we study the Bible without a preconceived bias for finding errors, we will find it to be a most harmonious and consistent book. Differences in the Bible don’t necessarily mean discrepancies. For example, a person may affirm, “I went shopping with my daughter yesterday.” That same person might also tell someone, “Yesterday, I went to the Mall with my best friend.” Both statements, though different, could be true. Perhaps the mother went shopping with her daughter and her best friend, Mary. Or, it could be that the daughter is the mother’s best friend. Either way, these are not discrepancies.

Was it essential for the apostle John to mention every woman who came to the tomb of Jesus on the morning of His resurrection, or did he have the freedom to mention as few as he wanted (John 20:1; Matthew 28:1; Luke 24:1)? If Mary Magdalene was at the tomb on that Sunday morning, and John recorded that she was there, without ever denying that others also were there, could his record of the events be truthful? Of course it could. Differences do indeed exist among the gospel writers’ accounts, but they are not discordant.

Sadly, when it comes to the scriptures, some become unreasonable and claim that different accounts must be “contradictory.” But a difference is not a contradiction. The fact is, that different but factual wordings in Scripture are exactly what a person should expect to find in a book composed of 66 smaller books written by approximately 40 different writers, who wrote to different people, at different historical times, over a very long period of time and in different geographical places. Differences should be expected in the apostles and prophets writings as everyone wrote from his own angle and related only what touched his heart. Certainly people view things from different perspectives.

In His service,

BibleAsk Team

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