Questions From Readers
● Matthew 20:29 and Mark 10:46 speak of Jesus healing the blind beggar Bartimaeus as Jesus was leaving Jericho, but Luke 18:35 reports the event as Jesus was entering Jericho. How can this contradiction be explained?—B. F., Canada.
The book Archaeology and Bible History, by Joseph P. Free, makes an interesting suggestion on this matter on page 295: “Just before the Lord met Zacchaeus at Jericho, he healed the blind in the same vicinity. In Matthew it says that this healing took place as Christ left Jericho, whereas in Luke the indication is that it took place on the way into Jericho. Some have suggested that these were two different events, and that is a possibility. Archaeology, however, has thrown additional light on this apparent discrepancy. Early in the twentieth century A.D. excavations were made at Jericho by Ernest Sellin of the German Oriental Society (1907-1909). The excavations showed that the Jericho of Jesus’ time was a double city. The old Jewish city was about a mile away from the Roman city. In the light of this evidence, it is possible that Matthew is speaking of the Jewish city which Christ had left, whereas Luke is speaking of the Roman, at which Christ had not yet arrived. Thus, on his way from the old to the new city, Christ met and healed the blind Bartimaeus. Therefore, if these three passages in Matthew, Mark, and Luke refer to the same event, there is not any contradiction; and if they refer to different healings, there of course would be no contradiction.”
This well illustrates the folly of arguing that the Bible contradicts itself, as some do. A complete knowledge of the facts of the times in which the events occurred clears up what seems to be a contradiction when viewed centuries later and without the complete background knowledge. Also, these apparent contradictions prove that there was no collusion among the different writers of the Bible or the copyists of the manuscripts. Such obvious contradictions, apparently, as the above one would certainly never occur. The fact that such seeming contradictions are in the Bible proves there is no collusion among its writers, and when the full facts are brought to light even the seeming contradiction itself disappears.