Problem: Accounts of Paul's conversion are contradictory
Verses: Acts 9:7, Acts 22:9; Status: Weak

The conversion of Paul (also known as Saul) to Christianity is described in Acts 9:4-7

And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" And he said, "Who are you, Lord?" And he said, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do." The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. (ESV)

Somewhat later on in Acts 22:9, while describing these events, Paul himself says:

Now those who were with me saw the light but did not hear the voice of the one who was speaking to me. (NRSV)

In my opinion, this is a non-contradiction. In one case the author of Acts is writing, and in the other case, Paul himself is speaking. It is entirely feasible that Paul either mis-spoke or mis-remembered. Paul is just a man, and not blessed with omniscience.

A note on Bible translations

You will note that I used two different Bible translations on this page. This is because some Bibles like the NIV and the ESV, written with an inerrantist philosophy, avoid this problem by translating Acts 22:9 like this:

Now those who were with me saw the light but did not understand the voice of the one who was speaking to me. (ESV)

This is a questionable and unnecessary step. It's not required, for there is no problem in the first place.

Updated: Summer 2008

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