During an interview Wednesday night with “Touched by an Angel” star Roma Downey and her husband Mark Burnett Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly proclaimed that, “a lot of the Bible is allegorical,” and that “the New Testament Gospels contradict themselves.”

Burnett and Roma are the executive producers of “The Bible” TV miniseries which begins this Sunday night on the History Channel. Downey, who portrays Jesus’ mother Mary in the series, opened the interview by declaring her solid faith in Holy Scripture. “Bringing the Bible to the screen came with a huge responsibility and one we took very seriously,” Downey said. They also wanted to make the series something that young people could get into. “You know, we have teenagers at home and it’s hard to get them to read anything.” Downey said. “And one of the goals here was to get this generation interested and excited about Scripture, and I think we’ve been able to achieve that.”

O’Reilly then showed his worldly skepticism (and his ignorance of Scripture) when he asked Downey: “When you say you’re a believer, do you believe in the Bible literally? I mean you believe that Adam and Eve were out there, and the snake and the apple and all of that business?”

“I do indeed. I believe the truth of the Bible,” she affirmed. “That’s what I was taught, and it’s been a wonderful, wonderful faith for me my whole life.”

I would have answered O’Riley a bit different. First, I would have pointed out that although many Christians have been “taught” these stories from the Bible, I have studied the Scriptures myself and found that Adam and Eve were not common names like we use today, as much as they were descriptions of what these “new created beings” were. Adam is the Hebrew word for “man” and Eve is translated “mother of the living”. Also, Scripture does not describe that what the couple ate was an apple, but only as some type of produce from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

All the confusion about Adam and Eve and the “serpent” in Genesis 3 has arisen from people taking literally what is expressed figuratively and taking figuratively what is literal. For example, the Hebrew word rendered “serpent” in Genesis 3:1 is Nachash, and means, a shining one. The Nachash, or shining one, who beguiled Eve, (2Corinthians 11:3) is also spoken of as “an angel of light” in verse 14. It seems to me then, that it was not a snake at all, but a glorious shining being, apparently an angel, to whom Eve paid such great deference, acknowledging him as one who seemed to possess superior knowledge, and who was evidently a superior being.

O’Reilly continued the questioning making sure that he put a plug in for his upcoming book saying: “Ms. Downey, I’m writing a book, ‘Killing Jesus,’ about why Jesus of Nazareth was executed. It’s a history book. But obviously, the Gospels that discuss this were involved with that. But there are some contradictions among Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. And then it’s my job and Martin Dugard, my co-author, to cut through the contradictions and to try to give a narrative of what actually happened to Jesus, because he was executed.”

O’Reilly never elaborated on the contradictions he alleges exist in the New Testament, but he may be referring to the gospel accounts of Jesus’ crucifixion and that both the robbers reviled Him in Matt. 27:44 and Mark 15:32; while in Luke 23:39 only one of them mocked Him, while the other rebuked him for doing so. (v. 40)

Mislead by tradition and the ignorance of Scripture on the part of medieval painters, it is the general belief that only two were crucified with the Lord. But Scripture does not say so. It states that there were two “thieves” (Matt. 27:38; Mark 15:27) but there were also two “malefactors”. (Luke 23:32)

If there were only two, this is a real discrepancy; But by studying these verses we find that the first two (malefactors) who were “led with Him” were placed one on either side. Then when the other two (robbers) were brought later, they were also similarly placed; so that there were two (one of each) on either side, with the Lord in the middle of them. The malefactors were therefore the nearer, and being on the inside they could speak to each other better, and the one with the Lord, as recorded in Luke 23:39-43.

But John further states in John 19:32, 33: “then came the soldiers and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with Him. But when they came to Jesus, and saw that He was dead already, they brake not His legs.” Had there been only two, (one on either side of Jesus) the soldiers would not have broken the legs of one, walked around Jesus, and then broken the legs of the other and then turned back again to Jesus. But if there were FOUR men (two on each side of the Lord) then they would have come to Him after they had broken the legs of the first two. From this evidence, therefore, it is clear that there were four “others” crucified with the Lord; and thus, there are no “discrepancies”.

After I had this same discussion with a friend he asked, “What does it matter as long as we know that Jesus died for our sins?” It matters because there are intelligent people like Bill O’Riley who will be able to weaken the faith of some by bringing up these so-called contradictions.

Sadly, most of what Christians believe does not come from studying Scripture, but from TV specials, movies and greeting cards. And while I encourage you to watch this series I would also encourage you to discover God’s truth by studying Scripture yourselves.

For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. (2 Timothy 4:3-5)

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