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Hardcover Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why Book

ISBN: 0060738170

ISBN13: 9780060738174

Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why

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Book Overview

When world-class biblical scholar Bart Ehrman first began to study the texts of the Bible in their original languages he was startled to discover the multitude of mistakes and intentional alterations that had been made by earlier translators. In Misquoting Jesus , Ehrman tells the story behind the mistakes and changes that ancient scribes made to the New Testament and shows the great impact they had upon the Bible we use today. He frames his account...

Customer Reviews

7 ratings

A great read that arrived in great condition!

This is essentially an introduction to the scholarly field of textual criticism. The author lays out some of the history and transmission of the Bible, discussing changes made in multiple areas, and current methods of how we are attempting to get back to the original texts and traditions of the Bible (because we have no original copies, nor copies of the originals, nor copies of those copies). This is material that will surprise readers who have little to no knowledge of these topics.

Misquoting Jesus is easily the best book about the Bible I've ever read.

I am 72 and have studied the Bible all my life and learned very little until I read this book. It was easy to understand. I read this book 4 times in a row during the first 9 months I owned it and then spent several weeks highlighting. It is one of the most important books I've ever read.

I liked Dr. Ehrman's new book, Misquoting Jesus

Misquoting Jesus is the latest of Bart D. Ehrman's books that I have enjoyed. Although much of the material in Misquoting Jesus is covered in another of his works, The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture, his intended audience is somewhat different, and I enjoyed the story of his own life that influenced his lifework. Misquoting Jesus is first and last, autobiographical, and in between the result of his lifework-- that of Bible Scholar. In the beginning the book takes the reader through Dr. Ehrman's early life and his "born again" experience. As a result, he developed a consuming interest in learning about the Bible. In college he studied at The Moody Bible Institute, and later at Wheaton College, which resulted in a career of intensive Bible study. Writing about the Bible can be a veritable minefield, and the content of both books may undoubtedly anger some readers, while many others will find it provocative and enlightening. When he began studies at Moody, he was taught, and believed that the Bible is the inerrant Word Of God, dictated precisely to various scribes and prophets who wrote down those words verbatim. Somewhere along the way, he realized that the English translations must not exactly be the literal words that God dictated, so he decided that he needed to learn the actual words that comprised the Bible. He learned ancient Greek, Latin, and Hebrew. He began to realize that there were differences, some of them large among the various copies of manuscripts that became the Bible that we know, starting with differences in accounts in the Gospels of the same episode. His curiosity to find and understand what the original Bible actually said was the beginning of a career that has spanned most of thirty years. He is now the chairman of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The audience of Misquoting Jesus is the non-Scholar who wants better to understand the Bible. Dr Ehrman's conversational style is easy to read while he outlines the way in which the discipline of textual criticism was evolved and how the Bible texts were changed by scribal copyist error, or doctrinal correction. If I had not read Misquoting Jesus I would not know that: · The popular story in John, (7:53-8:12) about Jesus confounding the Scribes and the Pharisees who had brought a woman accused of committing adultery to test him was not in any of the early manuscripts of the Bible. · The last twelve verses in Mark were not found in the most ancient examples, nor was the last chapter of John. · Each of the Gospels tells a different story of the Crucifixion, the events leading up to it and the Resurrection. We don't know which is the right one, or if there is a "right" account. · The King James Version that so many of us prefer, is probably the least accurate translation, being based on manuscripts that were inferior copies. · The letter, supposedly written by St. Paul to Timothy, was probably, instead written by a fol

A well-written, engaging aid for understanding the Bible

I have always found Dr. Ehrman's work to be clear, sound, and credible. This book is extraordinarily helpful: it is written not specifically for scholars but for laypeople. I'm a professor of religion at a small college and my students (before they hit my classes) have never thought much about how their Bibles were produced; many are not aware that there isn't complete agreement among New Testament texts (or Old Testament texts, for that matter), or that theology can influence the way copyists and translators do their work (just as it influences how readers read). This is, I think, Ehrman's most personal book. He begins by talking about his spiritual and academic journey, showing how he has moved from a fundamentalist, interrantist position to one in which his understanding of the nature of the Bible is quite different--largely because he was taught undeniably true things about the process through which the Bible was formed that, unfortunately, one seldom hears in church. Although his relationship with the Bible is not the one with which he began, it is still of intense interest to him. This personal reflection is interesting and makes the rest of the book easier to understand. Ehrman provides helpful and accurate information about how and why ancient copies of biblical books were made, who made them, and the general lack of quality control in the process. His presentation is strengthened by his giving examples of manuscripts having different versions of some verses and passages. He describes how textual criticism is done--its purposes and processes. At times he deals with the words of the Greek text, translating them accurately and explaining their significance in ways that people with no background in the language can easily comprehend. He does all this in language that laypeople can understand--he uses very little jargon--and, even more amazingly, does it without ever seeming to be "writing down" in order to be understood by those outside of his field. His style is clear, concise, and academic without being burdensome. As one who spends a great deal of time reading academic writing (and doing some), let me tell you that this is a hard target to hit. He also deals with issues involved with the translation process and with movements in early Christianity that were quite opposed to each other, explaining how these disagreements influenced both the writing and the copying of Christian documents. One example of this deals with "Junia," a woman (or a man with a woman's name) who is referred to as "foremost among the apostles" (Romans 16:7); generally translations use the masculine form "Junias" in the belief that a woman could not be an apostle, although there is no instance of that name in Greek literature. As one who has been active in churches all my life, I think it is a shame that the church does not seem willing to talk about the issues Ehrman discusses, leaving its members to feel shocked and dismayed when encounterin

An excellent starting place for anyone wishing to know about New Testament textual criticism and the

Ehrman's book can be described as an introduction to New Testament textual criticism for the beginners, in which he explains the subject in the context of his own background, relating his journey from being an Evangelical Christian to becoming a world renowned New Testament scholar. Besides D. C. Parker's "Living Text of the Gospels," Ehrman's "Misquoting Jesus" seems to be the only book on textual criticism designed specifically for the non-expert readers. In short, Prof. Ehrman explains the copying practises of the earliest period and how the texts of the New Testament writings were corrupted as they were copied and recopied. He begins by introducing the diverse writings produced by the early Christians, such as gospels, Acts, apocalypses, Church orders, apologies etc. Briefly, the formation of the canon is also discussed and we are informed about the literacy level among the early Christians. Thereafter we are introduced to the world of the copyists and Ehrman explains how the early scribes copied texts and the problems associated with the copying of texts. It is quite interesting to learn that even pagan critics of Christianity, such as Celsus, were quite aware at an early date that the Christian writings were being corrupted by the scribes and even Origen had to complain about the numerous differences between the gospel manuscripts. Marcion, an early Christian, corrupted the text of certain New Testament writings available to him and Dionysius is quoted who complains that his own writings have been modified just as "the word of the Lord" had been tampered. Marcion, of course, accused other Christians of corrupting the texts. In an earlier writings, "The Orthodox Corruption of Scriptures", Ehrman demonstrated in detail how proto-orthodox Christians corrupted the New Testament writings on occasions. It seems that the early Christians were quite aware that the writings in their possession had underwent corruption and were still being corrupted and they frequently accused each other of tampering with the texts. I was quite surprised to learn how statistically small additions or deletions within the text changed the entire meaning of passages and even books. Ehrman discusses at length certain examples in this regard and shows that even unintentional changes can result in changes that change the meaning of texts. A previous disgruntled reviewer said that "all of the basic beliefs of the faith are clearly outlined throughout the New Testament and are not in any way in question." However, Ehrman lists a number of theologically important issues which rest upon textually uncertain passages. To quote Ehrman (pp. 207-208): "It would be wrong, however, to say - as people sometimes do - that the changes in our text have no real bearing on what the texts mean or on the theological conclusions that one draws from them. We have seen, in fact, that just the opposite is the case. In some instances, the very meaning is at stake depending on how one resolve

A Challenge to the Bible Literalists.

Bart Ehrman, one of my favorite authors, not only knows what he writes about but also how to write it in understandable English. In this book he examines how the New Testament Scripture was altered by successive copying scribes, how we can detect these changes, and why they were made. This is not a new task for Dr. Ehrman, since he published a very similar book ("The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture") in 1993. Whereas the previous one, however, was addressed to scholars, this one has been written for you and me. Perhaps it was written as a response to the growing belief in the literal inerrancy of the Bible that has become so widespread in the last decades. Certainly the book's introduction supports this thought. In it the author describes his personal life travel from a rather theologically-uninterested Episcopal teenager, to a born-again fundamentalist who graduated from Moody Bible Institute and Wheaton College, both in Illinois, before heading for Princeton. This and how he finally shook off literalism makes for a wonderful personal story. Dr. Ehrman starts by describing the importance of books and letters to the early Christians, but that only a few knew how to read them. So those who knew how, read the Gospels and the letters of Paul to the members of their own church, and made manuscript copies of them to share with neighboring churches. As the years went by the originals were lost or destroyed, as well as their copies, The oldest manuscripts we now have in our possession are copies four or five times removed from the originals. And as these documents were copied, the copying errors in them multiplied, until the ancient documents we now have contain more errors than the number of words in the New Testament. So much for inerrancy. The rest of the book describes the types of copying alterations that were made: Unintentional copying errors where words or lines were omitted, where the meaning of a word changed because a single letter was miscopied, where abbreviations were misunderstood. And intentional changes made to clarify the meaning, bring the ideas closer to the accepted orthodoxy in the copyists' days, bring the gospels in agreement with each other, explain obscure points. He then discusses how the various Bible translations were carried out and their relative quality. Finally he explains how additional, purposeful changes were made in the Scripture during the first centuries in order to oppose perceived attacks by heretical doctrines. (In this section he occasionally repeats examples previously discussed.) He concludes with the idea that all texts are interpreted by their readers in the light of their own knowledge, and points out that each evangelist wrote down the information available to him, in his own words as he himself interpreted it. So the four gospels are not meant to be four identical stories, but four different interpretations of whatever each evangelist knew. All in all, this is a ver

Another home run for Ehrman!

In a little over 200 pages, Ehrman gets to the point of how the New Testament came to be what it is today. No, it didn't just appear leather-bound, shiny, and new after Jesus' resurrection; rather, it was painstakingly cobbled together decades after Jesus' crucifixion from copies of copies of copies of (you get the point) the original writings of the New Testament authors, which were slowly altered over time by scribes that handed them down (sometimes by accident or othertimes intentionally by those meaning to "correct" things in the scriptures that didn't make sense). All in all, Ehrman makes his case well, that even if the New Testament scriptures started out as the inspired word of God, we humans have certainly gotten our filthy little hands on it and have made it quite difficult to discern what the "original" writers (whose texts have been lost) actually wrote. Thus, we can only try to piece it together through the challenging art of textual criticism, which is what this book is largely about.
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