A Tale Of Two Donkeys


There are always Bible believers who will declare that the Bible has no "true" contradictions. Many of these believers will chirp their claim over and over again, assuming that they've established that no "true" contradictions can ever be shown to exist in the Bible simply by saying they've never seen one. Of course, their definition of a contradiction is the key to determining how seriously their claim should be taken.
The following is an excellent example of such a Bible believer and the irony here is that this believer actually provides a "true" contradiction with his answer to a single question.
That question was:
According to the Bible, how many animals were required to fulfill Zech 9:9?

Zech 9:9 states:
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.


But first, a little background of the situation:
The author of the Gospel of Matthew declares that two animals were required to "fulfill" the prophecy of Zech 9:9.
The authors of Luke, Mark and John have no such requirement.
According to the author of Matthew:
Matt 21:1-7
And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples,
Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose
them, and bring them unto me.
And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them.
All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying,
Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.
And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them,
And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on
them their clothes, and they set him thereon.

Note that the cloaks are placed on them and Jesus sat on them.
Jesus sat on cloaks which were placed on 2(two) separate animals.
You'll also notice that "Matthew" declares that all of this was done to fulfill the prophecy spoken of by the prophet Zechariah and as the text shows, it was commanded by Jesus. Jesus commanded that 2(two) animals be brought to him.
The Lord needs them both

There is no such need or presence of two animals in Mark.
Mark 11:1-7
And when they came nigh to Jerusalem, unto Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount of Olives, he sendeth forth two of his disciples,
And saith unto them, Go your way into the village over against you: and as soon as ye be entered into it, ye shall find
a colt tied, whereon never man sat; loose him, and bring him.
And if any man say unto you, Why do ye this? say ye that the Lord hath need of
him; and straightway he will send him hither.
And they went their way, and found
the colt tied by the door without in a place where two ways met; and they loose him.
And certain of them that stood there said unto them, What do ye, loosing the colt?
And they said unto them even as Jesus had commanded: and they let them go.
And they brought the colt to Jesus, and cast their garments on
him; and he sat upon him.

According to "Mark", Jesus does not order for two animals to be brought, but only one. The Lord needs it, not them. There is no second animal needed or to be found anywhere in the story.

There is no such need for two animals in Luke.
Luke 19:29-35
And it came to pass, when he was come nigh to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount called the mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples,
Saying, Go ye into the village over against you; in the which at your entering ye shall find
a colt tied, whereon yet never man sat: loose him, and bring him hither.
And if any man ask you, Why do ye loose him? thus shall ye say unto him, Because the Lord hath need of him.
And they that were sent went their way, and found even as he had said unto them.
And as they were loosing the colt, the owners thereof said unto them, Why loose ye the colt?
And they said, The Lord hath need of him.
And they brought
him to Jesus: and they cast their garments upon the colt, and they set Jesus thereon.

According to Luke, who claims to have carefully investigated everything regarding Jesus in Luke 1:3-4, there is no second animal required by Jesus. The Lord needs it, not them.
Once again, the disciples are commanded to bring one animal, not two.
The text says nothing about Jesus ordering or needing a second animal.
Jesus says only one animal will be found as the village is entered, not two.
Garments are thrown over one, not over them. Jesus sat on garments which were placed on one animal, not on two.

The instructions of Jesus to his disciples in Luke and Mark are clear.
The disciples will find one(SINGULAR) animal and are to bring one(SINGULAR) animal to him.
The instructions in Matthew command that two(PLURAL) animals be found and both are to brought to Jesus.

"Matthew's" version of Jesus gives a different set of instructions to his disciples than the Jesus of "Luke" and "Mark".

The Gospel of John is a shorter narrative of the story but also clearly shows that only one animal is involved in fulfilling the prophecy.
John 12:12-16
On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem,
Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord.
And Jesus, when he had found
a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written,
Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass's colt.
These things understood not his disciples at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of him, and that they had done these things unto him.


Note that the author of John also declares that Zech 9:9 was fulfilled with Jesus only needing and riding one animal.

Regardless of why the author of Matthew made the translation error of Zech 9:9 and thought two animals were involved instead of only one, he has Jesus demanding the two animals for the stated purpose of showing him as fulfilling Zechariah's prophecy, however mistranslated it was.

In other words, the author of Matthew misinterpreted Zech 9:9.
However, if the author of Matthew was inspired by God himself, as believers insist he was, then he couldn't make any errors at all, especially one of this magnitude.
This is where Bible believers must defend the Bible at all costs and concoct a rationalization to reconcile the glaring problem. If any part of the Bible can be reasonably shown to contain error, all of the Bible then becomes suspect and may not be the word of God but simply the written stories of men with an agenda. The last thing believers want is for any doubt to ever surface in the mind of anyone that the Bible may not be the infallible word of their God.

Now, with the background of the problem outlined, we see a believer making a standard claim which is repeated over and over by many Bible believers.

[A Christian declares:
Show me one, just one, contradiction that is true.
If you think you know more about logic than my professor I think you are sadly mistaken.
The opposite of true is false.
The opposite of false is true. T and F = F, F and T = F]

Note:
This Christian is trying to define the word contradiction narrowly enough so that very little scripture can qualify as a "true" contradiction.

The following example of a contradiction was then provided by a skeptic for this Christian to resolve without resorting to spurious rationalization.

Contradiction example:
How many animals and garments did Jesus ride into Jerusalem on?
Matthew 21: 5-7
"Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and
sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass. And the disciples went,
and did as Jesus commanded them And brought the ass, and the colt, and put
on them their clothes, and they set him thereon."

Versus:
Mk 11:7
"And they brought the colt to Jesus, and cast their garments on him; and he
sat upon him."
Lk 19:35
"And they brought him to Jesus: and they cast their garments upon the colt,
and they set Jesus thereon."
Jn 12:14
"And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon."


The Christian then cites a Bible apologetic handbook.
[Christian wrote:
Zech 9:9, And upon a colt the foal of an ass (kai epi pwlon uion upozugiou). These words give trouble if kai is here taken to mean "and." Fritzsche argues that Jesus rode alternately upon each animal, a possible, but needless interpretation.
In the Hebrew it means by common Hebrew parallelism "upon an ass, even upon a colt."
That is obviously the meaning here in Matthew.
The use of upozugiou (a beast of burden, under a yoke) for ass is common in the LXX and in the papyri (Deissmann, Bible Studies p. 161).

This explanation points out that Fritzsche had a POSSIBLE although needless
interpretation.]

[Christian then states:
We need not go any further to see that this is not a contradiction, but rather it is a group of contrary statements. In this example, which is touted as being a contradiction, we do NOT have opposite truth values.]

Note:
This Christian hasn't resolved the problem, he only thinks he has.
He states that "opposite truth values" are not present so a contradiction doesn't exist.
This Christian then unwittingly exposed the main contradiction with his next answer.

Commentary:
The apologist Fritzsche saw the problem in the Gospel of Matthew of putting cloaks on two animals when only one animal could be ridden at one time and attempted to explain it away by saying Jesus played musical chairs with two donkeys.
That doesn't resolve the problem of scriptural accuracy. It's just an attempt to explain away why cloaks were put on two animals instead of one.
Let's get to the heart of the matter.
How many animals are required to fulfill Zech 9:9?

Christian answers: 1(one)

Commentary:
Not according to the author of Matthew.
The author of Matthew states that 2(two) animals were needed to fulfill Zech 9:9

[Christian:
Not really. In Matthew the word translated as "and" should have been translated as "even".]

Note:
With the above answer, This Christian apologist demonstrates he doesn't yet grasp what the problem is.
The problem hasn't appeared on his radar screen, or if it has, he's ignoring it deliberately.

Commentary:
The Gospel of Matthew mistranslation error doesn't change the fact that this author's version of the prophecy fulfillment requires 2(two) animals.

[Christian:
You can see this in how John 12:15 words the same subject matter.
John 12:15
Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass's colt.
]

Commentary:
The author of Matthew didn't see it.
The author of Matthew should have translated Zech 9:9 correctly instead of incorrectly.
The author of Matthew assumed Zech 9:9 was calling for two animals.
Zech 9:9
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass,
and upon a colt the foal of an ass.

The author of Matthew clearly states that Jesus required and took actions to obtain 2(two) animals specifically for the purpose of fulfilling this prophecy.
Matt 21:1-5
And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples, Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose
them, and bring them unto me. And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them. All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.

Note:
This Christian has sunk his own argument. He stated that 1(one) animal was required to fulfill the prophecy.
The author of Matthew says 2(two) were required. Either The Christian is wrong or the author of Matthew is wrong.

[Christian:
If I am understanding you correctly, you are saying that this particular translation is in error. Is that correct?]

Commentary:
The author of Matthew states that Zech 9:9 requires 2(two) animals to be fulfilled. As you stated, the word "and" should have been translated as "even". If that's true, then Zech 9:9 was incorrectly translated by the author of Matthew.

[Christian:
Or the translation of Matthew is incorrect. Right?]

Note:
This Christian, in his last response, made one of the most inane attempts at a rationalization I've ever seen.
In other words, the Bible wasn't translated correctly. If that's the case none of it can be trusted to be the Word of God in the first place and you had might as well put the book on a shelf with other fiction.
This is the type of nonsense that believers are forced to resort to in order to rationalize Bible contradictions away.

Commetary:
The author of Matthew clearly states that Jesus required and took actions to obtain 2(two) animals specifically for the purpose of fulfilling this prophecy.
Matt 21:1-5
And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples, Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose
them, and bring them unto me.
And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of
them; and straightway he will send them.
All this was done
, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.

Would you like to assert that Matt 21:1-5 was improperly translated?
Which parts of the above Bible passage were translated incorrectly?

Footnote:
This Christian never had any further response to this.
They already stated that 1(one) animal was required to fulfill Zech 9:9.
The inspired author of Matthew contradicts his claim by stating that 2(two) animals were required by Jesus to fulfill the prophecy in Matt 21:1-5.
This Christian states that no "opposite truth values" exist in this example of a contradiction.
What is the "opposite truth value" of 1(one)?
In this case it's any number other than 1(one).
The Christian attempts to dodge the contradiction by asserting that the Gospel of Matthew section Matt 21:1-5 may have been mistranslated and may not mean 2(two) animals!

This Christian eliminates the contradiction by asserting that IF Matthew 21:1-5 is mistranslated then the contradiction may not exist. The contradiction can't be proved since Matt 21:1-5 may have been mistranslated.
If parts of the Bible were mistranslated and can't be used to validate a contradiction, there can't ever be any contradictions in the Bible.
This Christian can always claim that any passage in the Bible might have been mistranslated and may not mean what it says. It's an airtight system this believer operates under.
There can never be any contradictions when the scriptures can mean whatever a believer wants them to mean.
However, since that rationalization has no textual support whatsoever, it is not only spurious but begs the question of Bible inerrancy as well.
If believers want to claim that the Bible is the word of God they are stuck with what the verses actually say and not what they want them to say.
Bible believers do exactly what God warned them not to do, which is to modify his word to suit their needs.
Prov 30:5-6
Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.
Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.

Another rationalization of the problem, which this Christian didn't employ, is more subtle but no less dishonest.
The other commonly employed tactic is to claim that although the gospels of Luke, Mark, and John didn't record the second donkey, it was present all the time when Jesus rode into Jerusalem.
In other words, there really were two animals as the author of Matthew claims, but the other gospel writers were told by God that the second animal didn't need to be mentioned.
This rationalization is yet another example of how Christian apologetics will bottom fish for any explanation which will hold the fraying edges of the image of Bible accuracy together.
This particular excuse makes a mockery of the scriptures for the following reason:
The author of Luke clearly states at the beginning of his history in Luke 1:3-4 that he had perfect understanding of all events and was providing an accurate summary for his reader.
Luke1:3-4
It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus,
That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.


If the author of Luke's readers had been taught that Jesus rode into Jerusalem with 2(two) animals as the Gospel of Matthew claims, they would not have been able to confirm that story as truth. The Gospel of Luke does not validate the author of Matthew's story. Nor do the Gospels of Mark or John validate the author of Matthew's account.

Are we to think that the author of Luke simply omitted the second animal which was required to fulfill the prophecy because it was too small a detail to mention or that God told him not to mention it???
Are we to think that an inspired writer who carefully investigated everything in order to provide an accurate summary which would confirm the "truth" would leave out major events regarding the validity of a major prophecy fulfillment???
How tightly are we to close our eyes and pretend that these stories don't contradict each other???

Christians who resort to spurious apologetics would do well to remember Prov 30:5-6 when they want to modify verses or claim omissions in the text to accommodate their rationalizations.
Prov 30:5-6
Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.
Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.

When a book, which is declared to be the word of a perfect, all knowing, and infallible God, has to be defended by these types of inane rationalizations exhibited by Christian apologists, Bible scriptures become little more than a large piece of putty which can be molded to say whatever a believer wants it to say.
Facing the idea and likelihood that the Bible is not the word of God is far more unthinkable and unbearable to Christian apologists than the idea of making use of ill-conceived, inane, and spurious rationalizations in order to make scriptural problems go away.
These rationalizations are the types of antics which Christians have based their beliefs around, and it displays how the human mind will concoct whatever rationalization is needed to keep an established belief from being questioned.


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