Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Does Stephen's Speech Contradict the Rest of the Bible?

The Accusation
Skeptics allege that in his speech (Acts 7) Stephen misremembered the Hebrew Scriptures. Such as where God said he would deport Israel (Stephen says Babylon, the Hebrew Scriptures says "beyond Damascus"), or the issue of how many people went down to Egypt, or the issue concerning Abraham's tomb. What can be said in his defense.

The Cultural Setting
It wouldn't be fair to say that the ancient Semitic culture was lazy about details, but it would be fair to say that in some cases they weren't to picky. For example, to them and to Stephen, it didn't mater that Stephen said that "beyond Babylon" instead of "beyond Damascus," because the point being made was the same, they were punished for worshiping other gods. Now, to our minds what he said was inaccurate, but to them the approximate was good enough. Further there is another point to consider.

This was Stephen's Speech!
The Bible writer, Luke, was simply recording what was being said. If he had changed what Stephen said then it could be said that he was not accurately reporting what happened. Of course because Luke recorded Stephen's speech didn't mean he considered it literally accurate.And keep in mind that Stephen was going off memory, if he had access to the Bible as we do today (with easy to find verses) he likely wouldn't have made those mistakes.

And to those who say that the holy spirit should have given him the correct details, they fail to take into consideration that there was no need to because of the culture that Stephen lived in, so it is perfectly fine that the holy spirit gave him what to say. Further Jesus didn't literally imply (in his saying "do not worry on what to say, for what to say will be given to you then by the spirit") that the holy spirit would tell us word for word what we'd say, no, but it would guide us in what to speak.

There is no contradiction in Stephen's speech and the rest of the Bible.

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