A Bible Contradiction Solved
Recently, I received a forty plus page detailed report that reminded me of some of the awful chemistry textbooks I hated in high school. This report was loaded with charts, footnotes, German, Latin, chemical signs and equations and to top it all off, Greek, not in its transliterated form but in the actual Greek characters. As much as I like to study, this is not my favorite kind of studying.
But the subject matter interested me and so I plunged into this mass of foreign symbols and attempted to make sense out of them. To my surprise, I got through the whole thing, and can now say it was a good exercise.
Dr. Emil Deeg, the author of this scientific study, began this work as a result of a fellow parishioner from his church expressing concern about a particular contradiction he found in his Bible. This parishioner pointed out that Jesus, during the Last Supper said to his disciples "I will not drink this fruit of the vine from now until the day when I drink it new with you in my Father's reign." (see Matt. 26:29, Mark 14:25, and Luke 22:18) but shortly before he died on the cross Jesus took the wine that was offered to Him in a sponge. (See Matt. 27:48, Mark 15:36, and John 28-30) Clearly, if Jesus took wine, sour or otherwise, and drank it on the cross, we have a contradiction that would make Jesus out to be a liar.
Dr. Deeg's local priest offered no reasonable solution to the problem and so he began a very intense study that took him into many dozens of Bible translations in many languages. He searched through several Greek texts, sophisticated Bible software programs, and a host of Bible reference books. Did Jesus lie? Does the Greek language support the translation which Dr. Deeg's friend used? The answer to both questions is NO! Dr. Deeg points out that the Greek word used for "fruit of the vine" at the Last Supper and the Greek word used for "sour wine" in some English translations is not the same Greek word. After carefully studying these words and using his chemical background, Dr. Deeg determined that what Jesus tasted on the cross was water mixed with vinegar, a common drink among the Roman soldiers. This vinegar did not necessarily come from grapes. It could be made from figs, palms, fermented grain extract, etc. Therefore, Jesus did not lie, and the Greek language bears this out. However, the great majority of English Bible translations including such popular ones as the NIV, NASB, NKJV, and the Amplified have Jesus contradict Himself. Catholic and Protestant Bible translations alike contained the error. The King James Version, in this case, has a true rendering, while many of its leading contenders are incorrect.
Here we have a classic example of a contradiction in some of the leading English Bibles, yet leading best-selling Christian apologetics books tell us there are no contradictions in the Bible, that all translations say the same thing, that there are no differences which would effect any major doctrines. Here we have major English translations that make Jesus a liar and our apologists tell us our English translations are inerrant. When will the theologians stop playing games with us? Quite frankly, there are hundreds, maybe thousands of translation problems like the one we are presently discussing, in all the English Bible translations. But due to the "inerrancy" sacred cow of evangelicalism, we cannot look into these matters too deeply. Our concept of God may have to change should we find ourselves tampering with our translations too much. Far too many translators have translated according to their preconceived image of God, instead of letting the original languages speak for themselves.
Dr. Deeg pointed out in his work that if a translator neglected to read the disclaimer in Strong's Plan of the Book and used Strong's as a basis for translating, the translator would have to make Jesus a liar. According to Dr. Deeg, if the translator consulted Vines' Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, the possibility of making Jesus a liar would increase. In other words, these two leading Christian reference works were incorrect in defining these two Greek words.
I must say, I was quite impressed with the amount of work Dr. Deeg put into his paper. He did it just for the challenge and he did an outstanding job. Anyone who would like a copy of his paper may write to: Dr. Emil W. Deeg, 501 Ohio Ave, Lemoyne, PA 17043. He also published a short summary of the work. That will probably suffice for the average person.
If more atheists and theologians took the approach Dr. Deeg used in this study, there would be fewer atheists, and fewer theologians making false claims to "inerrant" Bible translations.