Answering The Atheist
October 26, 2003 / Volume 3, Issue 43
THE ATHEIST'S COMPLAINT:
Who was the father of Salah? Genesis 10:24 and 11:12 say Arphaxad, but Luke 3:35-36 says Cainan. Is there a contradiction?
This would appear to be a transcription error. The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge comments, "This Cainan is not found in the Hebrew text of any of the genealogies, but only in the Septuagint; from which, probably, the evangelist transcribed the register, as sufficiently exact for his purpose..."
Though a discrepancy is present, this is certainly no reason to deny the entirety of Scripture. Though in Old Testament times genealogies were of paramount importance to the Jews, Paul warns both Timothy and Titus about the folly in disputing about genealogies.
"...nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith." (1 Timothy 1:4)
"But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless." (Titus 3:9)
Why would Luke not correct the inconsistency between what he was writing and what was recorded in the Hebrew scrolls? As the quote above indicates, Luke seems to have copied from the Septuagint, which was a Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures. Rather than undo the scribes' error and cause foolish disputes over genealogies, Luke choose to leave the name "Cainan" in. Luke's purpose in supplying the genealogy had nothing to do with "Cainan", but rather linking Jesus of Nazareth to Adam, the man created by God in the beginning. It would be fruitless to stir contentions over a moot point.
Yes, a discrepancy exists, but it is of no consequence.
This article is a response to Skeptic's Annotated Bible