Do we have the exact words of Jesus or a paraphrase? How does it affect the credibility of Jesus’s words?What is your definition or understanding of a contradiction? Did Jesus say to loose and bring one or two animals( a colt and donkey) Thanks


No, we definitely do not have the exact words of Jesus for several reasons.  First of all, Jesus spoke in Aramaic, and the gospels are written in Greek.  So, no matter how precisely the gospel writers remembered or were told what Jesus said, it is literally impossible for us to have the exact words of Jesus.  We have a translation.  Besides, the disciples did not have tape recorders, and it is extremely doubtful that they wrote down transcripts of most of what Jesus said.  Besides, it was not expected in the ancient Near East that a reporter of history would use the exact words of the speaker.  It was sufficient to give a faithful rendition of what Jesus said.  If we look at parallel passages, for example in the “Sermon on the Mount,” we will see that our gospels are not exact transcripts, but are faithful recollections of the words Jesus used.  The gospels are inspired remembrances of what Jesus said and did, but they are not transcripts.  They definitely are not his exact words.

The definition of a contradiction that I would use would be a difference in either recorded fact or in doctrine/teaching between two passages for which there is no way to account for such proposed contradiction.  There are many “apparent” contradictions, but, as far as I know, there are no bona fide actual contradictions in the Bible.  For example, one gospel tells us that Jesus carried the cross-beam to his execution, but another says that Simon of Cyrene did so.  This is an apparent contradiction, but it is not a contradiction, because a reasonable rendering of the two acounts is that Jesus carried it part of the way, collapsed, and then Simon carried it the rest of the way.  Another apparent contradiction (which is not in fact a contradiction) is the accounts of the death of Judas.  One says that he hanged himself.  The other says that he fell to the ground and his body burst open.  The supposed contradiction is removed if we allow for the possibility that Judas hanged himself, but that when his body was cut down, it burst open.  A third example of (but of the second variety) is that in Ephesians 2:10 it says we are saved by grace through faith, not by works, but in James 2:24 it says that we are not saved by faith alone—that we are not saved by faith apart from works.  Which is true?  Both are ture!  This is not a contradiction (but many claim it is).  We are not saved by works.  Period.  No work has any merit in causing us to be saved.  We are saved by faith, but the kind of faith which saves, is obedient faith.  God requires that we repent to be saved.  To repent is to do something.  Works are required to be saved, but we are not saved by works.  Many other examples can be given.  Again, an actual contradiction is a matter of fact of for which there is no reasonable way to understand both to be true.  For example, if the Bible said that Jesus died in Jerusalem, but in another place it said Jesus died in Capernaum, that would be a contradiction.  Again, I believe that there are no contradictions in the Bible.

I believe that in your third question you are asking about the gospel accounts of Jesus coming into Jerusalem on what is called palm Sunday, as well as the prophecy in Zechariah 9:9.  It is possible that there were two donkeys—a mother and her colt.  This seems to be consistent with the prophecy in Zechariah 9:9.  Matthew 21:2 agrees with this description.  Luke does not mention the colt in Luke 19:30.  By the standard I gave above, this is not a contradiction.  Some call it a contradiction, but it is merely an apparent contradiction.  The difference is rather easily resolved by proposing that, for whatever reason, Luke did no mention the colt (or perhaps he did not even know about it).  Again, no contradiction.  Some have accused Matthew of making the detail about the colt up in order to make it look like the prophecy in Zechariah 9:9 was fulfilled.  This is easy to say, but impossible to prove.  It is quite unlikely that someone with the ethics of Matthew would purposefully lie in his gospel.  I believe that this is EXTREMELY unlikely.  No, there was a female donkey and her colt.

John Oakes

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