anachronisms in the Bible

Because the Bible was written to actual human beings by actual human beings to convey actual ideas, sometimes words and concepts are used anachronistically. If someone is talking about the foundation of the city of Rome, they may say that “Romulus and Remus arrived at Rome around 750 BC”. Although the city was not yet founded, it is normal to give listeners an adequate understanding of events by anachronistically using words and concepts. The Bible does this several times:

Gen 21:14 And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread, and a bottle of water, and gave it unto Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, and the child, and sent her away: and she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba.

Gen 21:31 Wherefore he called that place Beersheba; because there they sware both of them.
Gen 21:32 Thus they made a covenant at Beersheba: then Abimelech rose up, and Phichol the chief captain of his host, and they returned into the land of the Philistines.

Before Beersheba is even named, Abraham is said to be wandering in the wilderness of Beersheba. Likewise, take an example from the New Testament. In Luke the story develops John the Baptist far into his ministry before it introduces the birth of Christ:

Luk 1:80 And the child [John the Baptist] grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel.
[very next verse is Luk 2:1]
Luk 2:1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.

Luk 2:5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

Someone wishing to critique the Bible might object that this was introduced anachronistically. But because human beings converse, write, and explain concepts anachronistically, these critiques should be ignored. Anachronistic use of words are normal in conversation, especially if they are used to convey meaningful concepts.

About christopher fisher

The blog is meant for educational/entertainment purposes. All material can be used and reproduced in any length for any purpose as long as I am cited as the source.
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2 Responses to anachronisms in the Bible

  1. taskeinc says:

    You’re definitely a biblical and Christian apologist… An anachronism is an ERROR of chronology or timeline in a literary piece; a chronological INCONSISTENCY in some arrangement, especially a juxtaposition of person(s), events, objects, or customs from different periods of time. Many stories in the bible, the description of places, things, and events actually came into existence thousands of years after the article/scriptures mentioned they did…the bible and Christianity are the FRAUD of the Age…If anyone believes the outlandish fairy tales, lifted from Egyptian mythology, he or she is a dayuuuumm fool…

    Horus was baptized by Anup the Baptizer, Anup was later beheaded…Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist and John was later beheaded…the Horus myth was told 3000 yrs b4 the Jesus myth…and that’s just one clear example of the absurd fraudulence of your Christian ‘holy book’… Geez, WAKE UP!

    • You seem misinformed. We see anachronism all the time. Like, for example, I was teaching my children Roman history, and we talk about the Roman invasion of England. When we communicate to other people in our own timeframes, we use commonly understood terms, even if those terms are not kosher to the timeframe we are taking about. She thing when people say “Jews” referring to any time before the Israel-Judah split. This is just how communication works. Nothing wrong with it.

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