A Contradiction in the story of Pigs


There is a famous story written in the Gospel of Mark:

The Healing of a Demon-possessed Man

They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes.[1]When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an evil[2] spirit came from the tombs to meet him. This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him any more, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones.  When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Swear to God that you won’t torture me!” For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you evil spirit!” Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” “My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.” And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area. A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. The demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.” He gave them permission, and the evil spirits came out and went into the pigs.

The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned. Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man?and told about the pigs as well. Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region. As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. (Mark 5:1-17)

According to this story, when Jesus got out of the boat with his disciples, a man possessed by several demons approached Jesus, and Jesus eventually casts the demons out of this man, sending them into the pigs. A pretty simple story, yet the story is contradicted by Matthew’s version, for in Matthew, it isn’t one man, but two men:

The Healing of Two Demon-possessed Men

When he arrived at the other side in the region of the Gadarenes,[3] two demon-possessed men coming from the tombs met him. They were so violent that no one could pass that way. “What do you want with us, Son of God?” they shouted. “Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?” Some distance from them a large herd of pigs was feeding. The demons begged Jesus, “If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs.” He said to them, “Go!” So they came out and went into the pigs, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and died in the water. Those tending the pigs ran off, went into the town and reported all this, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men. Then the whole town went out to meet Jesus. And when they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region. (Matthew 8: 28-34)

So according to Matthews’s version, there were two men, not one. In fact the very heading of the story’s are even different, notice the heading from Mark, and Matthew:

The Healing of a Demon-possessed Man (Marks heading)

The Healing of Two Demon-possessed Men (Matthew’s heading)

The above headings are straight from the NIV Bible translation, and notice how the heading of the same story is different! In one heading it’s a demon possessed man, in the other heading, it’s the healing of two demon possessed men! So which one is it? Was there two men who Jesus healed, or one man? Obviously we don’t know the answer because these are two completely different stories, one says two, the other says one! So we are left to guess!

Now some Christians might try to play this down and say oh well who cares, sure we don’t know if it’s one or two, it’s a minor contradiction, and the story is still quite similar. The problem with this answer is that it ignores the fact that the Gospels are supposedly divinely inspired, and are the inerrant word of God, meaning pure and free from mistakes! So did God divinely inspire two different contradicting stories? Both cannot be right, it’s one or the either, hence we are left with the fact that God must have divinely inspired one wrong version! And we all know this cannot be the case, hence one of these texts is not divinely inspired, and hence the Bible is not the pure inerrant word of God as Christian propagandists like to claim. It also leaves us asking how many more stories in the Bible are wrong?!

Furthermore the only contradiction in the story isn’t about whether it was two or one man, the very fact that the numbers are different also changes other parts of the story. For instance in Mark, where it is only one man, this one man comes to Jesus after he is healed, and begs Jesus to take him with, and Jesus refuses, instead he tells the man to tell his people about this miracle. Yet this is missing from Matthew’s version.

So in conclusion we are facing two different stories which shouldn’t surprise us, as these were two different books, written by two different men, in two different locations, and in two different time frames! Both of these men whom we don’t know got their stories from the people around them, and they simply recorded that in their books, stories that they got decades after Jesus, from sources we don’t even know about! This is the Gospels my friends, far from the supposed inerrant word of God that some Christian propagandists would have you believe, it is a collection of stories from unknown authors, and stories passed down by unknown people!

And Allah Knows Best!





Sami Zaatari


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