What do you think about the time factor explained by Dr Zakir?  He says that Christ did not complete the three days & three nights in the heart of the earth. Please, enlighten me on that issue.


I looked around for a while but could not find the specific Youtube video you are talking about.  I did see several of Dr. Zakir’s anti-Christian "evidence."  My response to this person is that his evidences do not hold up well at all to common sense questions.  His examples of Bible errors are so easily refuted that his material is almost downright silly.  He uses some of the most common and easily explained false-contradictions.  If you peruse islamic web sites you will find that he has little if anything to offer, but mostly recycled shallow arguments.

For example, he says that the Bible says the earth is flat.  He uses the scene in Matthew 4 in which it says that Satan showed Jesus all the nations of the earth from a high mountain.  Matthew 4 certainly does not say that the earth is flat.  I am sure that not a single person reading this passage assumes that we are to take it literally.  This is an obvious example of a person reading the Bible with the express purpose of finding what might seem like an error when taken out of context to a person who does not read the Bible.

Like I said, Dr. Zakir’s examples are nothing new at all.  Although I could not find the argument you refer to out of Matthew 4 in his material, I have heard this claim of a Bible error before.  In fact, I would wager that a good majority of his supposed Bible errors are addressed at this web site.  The Bible says that Jesus spent "three days and three nights" in the heart of the earth (Matthew 12:40).  In point of fact, Jesus was in the tomb for part of three days–from Friday approximately midafternoon until Sunday quite early.  What Zakir fails to notice is that for the Jews it was a common idiom to call any part of a number of days as that many days and nights. Any part of two days was called by them "two days and two nights."  When the Jews counted the number of years one of their kings reigned, they used a similar means of accounting time.  For example, if a king reigned just a few months, but these months happened to occur in two calendar years, the Jews said that the king ruled for two years.  This is not a Bible error but just the common means of accounting time in the Jewish culture.  It absolutely dead obvious that the New Testament writers knew how long Jesus was in the tomb.  Obviously they (including Matthew) were well aware of the implications of Matthew 4 and saw no contradiction.  This is because there is no contradiction.

Actually, I got more or less the same question at the web site before.  I am copying and pasting that Q & A below.

Please do not let yourself be bothered too much by the "evidence" Dr. Zakir offers to prove the Bible is full of errors.  These are explained very easily and only appear to be contraditions if taken out of context.  If you find others which trouble you, do not hesitate to send them my way.

One more comment.  We should learn from Dr. Zakir how NOT to do apologetics.  It is tempting for Christians to approach criticizing the Koran using similar bogus methodology to Mr. Zakir.  Let us not take passages from the scripture of another religion blatantly out of context.  Let us be willing to read Islamic responses to criticism of the Koran.  I have tried to do this in my critiques of the Koran.

John Oakes, PhD

I’m writing to ask if you have any explanation for one apparent
discrepancy that I have often wondered about: "three days and three
nights". I have read that the "days" part of that statement was due to
the Jewish tradition of counting any part of a day as a whole day in the
description of passing time. However, I can’t see how the "three nights"
can be explained. Was it a later editorial insertion, or is there some
other explanation?

About the three days and nights, you are accurate in describing
it as an "apparent" discrepancy. It is only apparent because the
discrepancy is a matter of usage of a common idiom of the Jews in that
time with which we are not familiar. Apparently, according to scholars,
the Jews used the expression "a night and a day" to refer to any part of a
twenty-four hour period. This may seem odd to us, but I am sure that
there are many idioms in American or any other cultural usage for that
matter, which would seem very strange to an outsider. For example we say
that the sun rises and sets when everyone knows (hopefully) that the suns
is not moving: the earth is spinning!

The Jews counted their days from sunset to sunset. Jesus died
on Friday before sunset (remember that the Jews wanted the bodies down
before sunset so that they would not be on the crosses during Sabbath).
After sunset on Saturday, it was already the third day of Jesus being
buried, by Jewish custom. The following morning, Sunday, Jesus rose from
the dead. Even though by our accounting he was only in the tomb for two
nights and three days, it was customary usage for Jews in that time to
call this "three days and three nights."

An analogous example of this interesting way of describing
time used by the Jews was in how they counted the reignal years of their
kings. If a king of Judahruled for 400 days, and if those days happened
to fall in three different years (their years started with the first of
Nisan, near the time of Passover), then the Jewish historians would say
that particular king ruled for three years. We might say he ruled for one
year and one month, but that is not how the Jews would describe the reign
of the king. This is important to take into account for those who try to
measure the years from, say, David to Hezekiah. If they add up reignal
years, they will overestimate the total time.

You should not take my word for it if you want to be a careful
student of the Bible. I am not quoting primary sources here. If you want
to do more careful study, you could find a very thorough study of the
Passion events or a really good commentary on one of the gospels which
will supply a primary source for the claim that the Jews used "three days
and three nights" to mean any part of three successive days.

John Oakes

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