Before Jesus died
45 because the sun was obscured; and the veil of the temple was torn in two.
46 And Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, ‘Father, INTO YOUR HANDS I COMMIT MY SPIRIT.’ Having said this, He breathed His last.

NASB  Luke 23:45-46

After Jesus died
50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit.
51 And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split.

NASB  Matthew 27:50-51

37 And Jesus uttered a loud cry, and breathed His last.
38 And the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.

NASB  Mark 15:37-38

SAB Contradiction 111

Bible Contradiction?

One who reads the text superficially may be disposed to admit: Yes, we have here a clear contradiction. Generally we read an order of events in the gospels and that order seems to be broken in this case. In one occasion we read that the veil ripped before Jesus died (Luke) and in two different ones we read that it happened after Jesus’ death (Matthew, Mark).

However there are two indications that the descriptions in all cases are extremely accurate.

Beginning and end

1. Three times we read ‘was torn’; in Greek the same form is used: Aorist. This verb tense is not used to paint the action of the verb, but only to mention it as a fact. So it can refer to the beginning of the action (ingressive form) or at the completion of it (resultative form). Luke describes the beginning of the ripping while Jesus was still alive, and Matthew and Mark give the final part of the ripping after Jesus' death.

To the bottom

2. In Matthew and Mark we read that the veil was torn TOP TO BOTTOM. In Luke this aspect is missing in the description. Luke only remarks that the veil was torn ‘in the midst’. In the Letter of Aristeas (86) it is said that the veil in front of the temple house was tight at the top, while underneath it hung down freely. So it seems quite natural that pressure on the veil might cause a first damage upside.

Heavy wind or earth shock

Whether it was a gust of wind or a first earth shock that caused the beginning of the tearing, is unclear. Anyway, the writers among the eyewitnesses of Jesus’ death could accurately notice what happened. Certainly shortly before Jesus’ dying they must have heard the yelling of the people at some distance on the temple square when the veil started to tear. And again they must have heard them yelling when the veil was torn completely, after Jesus died.

No Bible Contradiction