Monday, October 23, 2006

[Book Review] MISQUOTING JESUS by Bart Ehrman


Philip Williams reviews MISQUOTING JESUS: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why by Bart D. Ehrman (HarperSanFrancisco, 2005)

Bart D. Ehrman, who chairs the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, begins his book with a description of the born-again experience he had as a teenager. He chose to go to the conservative, fundamentalist Moody Bible Institute, where the Bible was taught as the inerrant word of God. According to Christian fundamentalists, the Bible contains no mistakes and its very words are inspired by God.

At Moody, Ehrman learned that there are no original writings of the New Testament in existence. What exists are copies of the originals, made, in most cases, many years later. Also, he found out that there is no copy that is completely accurate because the scribes who produced them "inadvertently and/or intentionally" changed them. For Ehrman, this was a compelling problem. If the words of the scriptures are inspired by God, Ehrman believed, we need to know what His words are, not the words of scribes. Erhman became interested in manuscripts of the New Testament and devoted his life to textual criticism, i.e., the scholarly study of Christian manuscripts. Before the invention of the printing press, Ehrman tells us, all copies of New Testament writings were made by hand and the manuscripts contain errors and/or additions, most insignificant, but some that have profound theological consequences for the interpretation of the scriptures.

Ehrman, in his research and study, has reached conclusions that have changed his view of the New Testament writings and how they should be interpreted. This is a fascinating book in many ways, and even fundamentalists, while disagreeing with Erhman’s conclusions, could find his description and history of the field of textual criticism very interesting. Many readers not aware of this history would also find this book compelling, perhaps challenging--and it could possibly change some of their core beliefs about Christianity.

Philip Williams, Hollywood Branch Library

Also of interest--An interview with Ehrman on NPR's "Fresh Air."


Sounds like an interesting read. I'll have to keep it in mind on my next visit to the library and/or bookstore. Thanks. Lori D.
I think the formal logical and historical research of what Ribi Yehoshuas (the Messiah) from Nazareth's taught found at can be an interesting read for the readers of this blog.

Have a nice evening!
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