Today’s post will tackle another question that the Skeptic Annotated Bible asked: “When did Jesus receive his beating?”
Here are the two answers which the skeptic believes shows a Bible contradiction:
Before Pilate ordered his crucifixion.
And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on His head, and put a purple robe on Him; 3 and they began to come up to Him and say, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and to give Him slaps in the face.
So he then handed Him over to them to be crucified. (John 19:2-3, 16)
After Pilate ordered his crucifixion.
Then he released Barabbas for them; but after having Jesus scourged, he handed Him over to be crucified.
Wishing to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas for them, and after having Jesus scourged, he handed Him over to be crucified. (Mark 15:15)
(Note: Scriptural quotation comes from the New American Standard Bible)
The page that feature this alleged contradiction also says “Christian Response (None yet).” Let us change that. Don’t take the lack of a Christian response thus far to mean that it’s so difficult there’s nothing that can be said in response.
Here’s a closer look at whether or not there is a contradiction:
- When dealing with skeptics’ claim of Bible contradictions it seems one can never be reminded enough of what exactly is a contradiction. A contradiction occurs when two or more claims conflict with one another so that they cannot simultaneously be true in the same sense and at the same time.
- Even on the surface level what the skeptics are claiming is not even a contradiction. If we were to take it for granted (that is, without looking at those verses in the context more carefully) that the skeptics are right to say that the Bible teaches Jesus was beaten “before Pilate ordered his crucifixion” and the Bible also teaches Jesus was beaten “after Pilate ordered his crucifixion,” it is not a contradiction.
- Logically speaking one can be beaten both before and after sentencing.
- I’m not saying it is right but soldiers beating a captive before and after the sentencing is somewhat a common phenomenon. I’m reading right now a book that discusses the Japanese occupation of the Philippines and how they would lose the battle of hearts and minds because their soldiers just slap people for everything. I’m at a chapter where a spy against the Japanese was caught and she’s being slapped and beaten before her sentencing. After her sentencing the beating continues. No one would say that’s a contradiction.
- Anyone seen any ISIS videos where the prisoners are being beaten and slapped around before the sentencing was declared and then the same happens after the victims are “sentenced” and enroute to being slaughtered?
- In trying to make this a Bible contradiction the skeptic is either trying to hard to force a Bible contradictions to exist or they are rather naive of the depravity of human nature to inflict harm to one another, or both. This alleged Bible contradiction made up by the skeptic reveals more that it’s a first world problem occurring within their own mind due to their failure to understand evil men’s abilities as I can’t imagine someone outside of the West ever imagining this can be a contradiction.
- In order for there to be an actual logical contradiction to the question ““When did Jesus receive his beating?”” at least one of the two claims should be supplemented with the word “only.” For instance, logically it would be a contradiction if one of the claim was “Jesus was beaten only before Pilate ordered his crucifixion” and the second claim was “Jesus was beaten after Pilate ordered his crucifixion.” Or vice versa. But that’s not even the skeptics’ claim.
- Continuing with point 3 we must note that the verses cited as proof texts for the skeptics claims also don’t use the language of “only” or similar terminology. So there’s no contradictions within the Biblical passage either.
- Thus from point 1-4 we see there’s not a logical contradiction in terms of the timing aspect.
- Let’s go further with looking at the passages as we shall see here there’s not a contradiction in terms of the sense of beating before and after the sentencing of Jesus to be crucified.
- The skeptic cited John 19:2 as something taking place before Jesus was crucified (they are correct). Note John 19:2 states that the Roman soldiers “slapped” Jesus. Slapping is not the same thing as “scourged,” which occurred after Jesus was sentenced. The verb “scourged” are in the passages the skeptic cited as taking place after Jesus was sentenced.
- If one were to pay better attention to the Scriptures one would see that Jesus was “whipped” before He was sentenced by Pilate. Look at John 19:1.
- Interestingly there are two different verbs used to described Jesus being whipped. Why is that? To answer that we must study the word’s meaning in light of its usage.
- The verb used in John 19:1 to describe Jesus being whipped before Pilate ordered his crucifixion is the verb μαστιγόω. It derives from a word that originally referred to horse whip and the word has a long history, going back to Homer who used it over 20 times in that sense (“μαστιγόω,” New International Dictionary of the New Testament Theology and Exegesis, 3:246). Even in Biblical usage the term describes whipping such as found in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament) in describing the whipping of the donkey by Balaam in Numbers 22:25.
- The verb used in Matthew 27:26 and Mark 15:15 to describe Jesus being whipped after Pilate ordered his crucifixion is the verb φραγελλόω. It is a different verb than the verb μαστιγόω that is used to describe the whipping before Jesus was sentenced by Pilate. The verb φραγελλόω is actually a “loanword” in that it is not originally Greek. It is “borrowed” from the Latin flagellum (“μαστιγόω,” New International Dictionary of the New Testament Theology and Exegesis, 3:247). The Flagellum was no ordinary whip and it definitely was not a horse whip.
- Here’s a description: “At Rome the scourging of citizens had been forbidden from very early times (Liv x 9 Cic Pcrd 4 12 in Verr v 66 170) persons and especially slaves scourged in a variety of ways of flagellum was the worst (horribili flagcllo Sat i 3 119). It was a “knout” or “cat” with lashes of knotted cord or even wire…” (William Smith, A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, 1:864).
- If you want to read more about it you can read the entry HERE.
- The use of the flagellum often accompanied capital offense (“μαστιγόω,” New International Dictionary of the New Testament Theology and Exegesis, 3:247).
- Thus from the use of the two verbs we see that there are two different kinds of whipping that took place before and after Jesus was sentenced to be crucified by Pilate. The most severe form was φραγελλόω which took place after Jesus was sentenced. With φραγελλόω the action is no longer a slap on the wrist, like one whip a horse. Its so severe its forbidden to flog Roman citizens with it. It’s so severe it’s given before a capital punishment.
- Thus there’s even a different sense of how Jesus was beaten that doesn’t even make this a contradiction at all. Again I’m looking at this to understand truly what’s happening according to the text of Scripture. That’s more important than merely answering a skeptic’s charge of Bible contradiction. But after understanding the text and being more enriched to know what is actually going on I want to make the point to show that even if one assume that Jesus was ONLY (big assumption) “whipped” (root: μαστιγόω) before Pilate ordered the crucifixion still there’s no contradiction since Jesus was “scourged” (root: φραγελλόω) in a very different sense after the crucifixion was ordered.
There’s no contradictions at all here. The Skeptic Annotated Bible can marked this as another Bible contradiction in which Christians have answered.