Thursday, 28 February 2013

Contradictions In The Bible 8 :

Did Paul's companions hear the Voice on the Damascus Road?

 An apparent contradiction arises between the first account of Paul's conversion on the 
Damascus Road (Acts 9:7) and the second account (Acts 22:9) in regard to Paul's
companions. Did they hear the Voice from heaven or did they not? Acts 9:7 states: "But
the men who were journeying with Paul were standing speechless, hearing the Voice
(akouontes men tes phones), but beholding no one." In Acts 22:9, on the other hand, we
are told, "And those who were with me beheld the light, but they did not hear the Voice
[ten de phonen ouk ekousan] of the one who was talking to me."

 In the original Greek, however, there is no real contradiction between these two
statements. Greek makes a distinction between hearing a sound as a noise (in which case
the verb "to hear" takes the genitive case) and hearing a voice as a thought-conveying
message (in which case it takes the accusative). Therefore, as we put the two statements together, we find that Paul's companions heard the Voice as a sound (somewhat like the crowd who heard the sound of the Father talking to the Son in John 12:28, but perceived it only as thunder); but they did not (like Paul) hear the message that it articulated. Paul alone heard it intelligibly (Acts 9:4 says Paul ekousen phonen--accusative case); though he, of course, perceived it also as a startling sound at first (Acts 22:7: "I fell to the ground and heard a voice [ekousa phones] saying to me," NASB). But in neither account is it stated that his companions ever heard that Voice in the accusative case.

There is an instructive parallel here between the inability to hear the voice as an
articulated message and their inability to see the glory of the risen Lord as anything but a
blaze of light. Acts 22:9 says that they saw the light, but Acts 9:7 makes it clear that they
did not see the Person who displayed Himself in that light. There is a clear analogy
between these differing levels of perception in each case.

 (For the technical case-distinction in Greek, cf. W. W. Goodwin and C. B. Gulick,
Greek Grammar [Boston: Ginn & Co., 1930], #1103: "The partitive genitive is used with
verbs signifying to taste, to smell, to hear, to perceive, etc."--with the example from
Aristophanes' Pax: phones akouein moi doko--`Methinks I hear a voice." See also #1104:
"Verbs of hearing, learning, etc. may take an accusative of the thing heard etc., and a
genitive of the person heard from." This comes very close to the distinction made above,
that the accusative indicates the voice as a communicated message or thought, rather than
as simply a sound vibrating against the eardrum.)

Gleason L Archer 


Jon Gleason said...

Dale, this is a very good series. Many unbelievers honestly wonder about apparent Bible discrepancies. Until this series, I was unaware that this resource was on-line. I appreciate what you are doing here.

dale mcalpine said...

Thanks Jon, appreciate your input as always.

God bless.

H said...

Off topic, but: LOVE the new photo-header-thing!

On topic: Agree with Jon, and.. Believers wonder about apparent Bible discrepancies too! - At least I do!

dale mcalpine said...

Thankfully, because the Bible is the very Word of God there are explanations to those "discrepancies" Helen.

The picture was taken last year at Delaware Community College. A student by the name of TJ came and spoke to me after the preaching and I believe was saved, as far as I can tell, either during or after our conversation. Who says open air preaching is out-dated ?

Helen said...

"Discrepancies" - I remember the person who brought me to Christ years ago telling me, from the beginning of my Christian life, that the bible doesn't contradict itself, because it is God's word, and that if we see contradictions, it's our lack of understanding. This encouragement has always stuck with me when I don't understand something.
So, I wasn't doubting apparent "discrepancies" (or lack of),probably just chastising myself for times when I am too lazy to really get to grips with unravelling the "discrepancy" by dilligent study!
SO, saying series good for unbelievers AND believers!!

Interesting to read story of the picture, guess it was your Sept trip? Exciting & heartwarming to see God work through you. Out-dated? Course not! (Boing!- Not!!!) (In joke, people)

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