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

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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 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 with personal reflections on how his study of the Greek manuscripts made him abandon his once ultraconservative views of the Bible. Since the advent of the printing press and the accurate reproduction of texts, most people have assumed that when they read the New Testament they are reading an exact copy of Jesus's words or Saint Paul's writings. And yet, for almost fifteen hundred years these manuscripts were hand copied by scribes who were deeply influenced by the cultural, theological, and political disputes of their day. Both mistakes and intentional changes abound in the surviving manuscripts, making the original words difficult to reconstruct. For the first time, Ehrman reveals where and why these changes were made and how scholars go about reconstructing the original words of the New Testament as closely as possible. Ehrman makes the provocative case that many of our cherished biblical stories and widely held beliefs concerning the divinity of Jesus, the Trinity, and the divine origins of the Bible itself stem from both intentional and accidental alterations by scribes -- alterations that dramatically affected all subsequent versions of the Bible.Bart D. Ehrman chairs the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is a widely regarded authority on the history of the New Testament.


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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 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 with personal reflections on how his study of the Greek manuscripts made him abandon his once ultraconservative views of the Bible. Since the advent of the printing press and the accurate reproduction of texts, most people have assumed that when they read the New Testament they are reading an exact copy of Jesus's words or Saint Paul's writings. And yet, for almost fifteen hundred years these manuscripts were hand copied by scribes who were deeply influenced by the cultural, theological, and political disputes of their day. Both mistakes and intentional changes abound in the surviving manuscripts, making the original words difficult to reconstruct. For the first time, Ehrman reveals where and why these changes were made and how scholars go about reconstructing the original words of the New Testament as closely as possible. Ehrman makes the provocative case that many of our cherished biblical stories and widely held beliefs concerning the divinity of Jesus, the Trinity, and the divine origins of the Bible itself stem from both intentional and accidental alterations by scribes -- alterations that dramatically affected all subsequent versions of the Bible.Bart D. Ehrman chairs the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is a widely regarded authority on the history of the New Testament.

30 review for Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why (Audiobook)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Trevor

    This really is a fantastic book. When Wendy recommended it I thought that it would be pretty much the same old stuff that one would expect when an Atheist recommends a book on Religion. Let me explain why this isn’t what you might expect. Firstly, it is written by someone who I assume still considers himself a Christian. He begins this book by telling the reader his ‘life story’ – how he became a born again Christian at fifteen and how this lead him to become fascinated in The Bible. Not in the w This really is a fantastic book. When Wendy recommended it I thought that it would be pretty much the same old stuff that one would expect when an Atheist recommends a book on Religion. Let me explain why this isn’t what you might expect. Firstly, it is written by someone who I assume still considers himself a Christian. He begins this book by telling the reader his ‘life story’ – how he became a born again Christian at fifteen and how this lead him to become fascinated in The Bible. Not in the way other fundamentalists necessarily become fascinated by The Bible, but rather really fascinated – perhaps obsessed is a better word if you can view that word positively. He knew that The Bible was the ‘inspired word of God’ – but he also knew a few other things, like that it wasn’t originally written in English. So, he wanted to know, how close is the ‘current’ Bible to the ‘original’ Bible? That is the sort of question that can send one off on a lifetime’s adventure – and that is precisely what happens in this book. He learns Ancient languages, including Greek, Latin and god knows what else. He studies in various (and, to a fundamentalist Christian, increasingly challenging) universities and finally has his faith – the simple-minded faith he started with – rocked to the core by what he learns. When someone is this engaged, this excited and this informed about what they are writing and obsessed in it is impossible not to feel your pulse race as you read. And this guy loves his stuff. I also really like it when someone says something that initially sounds paradoxical and then, once it is explained, makes complete sense. Take, for example, his maxim that if you have two versions of the same text and one version is easy to read and understand and the other is difficult, then the difficult one is most likely to be the original. This sounds almost perverse, but really it is obvious. If you were a scribe and you came across a piece of text, you would be much more likely to change it so as to simplify it than to change it to make it more difficult to understand. Numerous examples are given of parts of the Bible being changed (the last six verses of Mark being added is my favourite and a clear candidate for the most remarkable example) so as to make them easier to understand. This isn’t a book that is seeking to rub the noses of Christians in the contradictions and mistakes inherent in The Bible, but what it is about is pointing out that rather than being inerrant, the New Testament is very much a human book telling a remarkable story in various and very human ways. The book ends with a wonderful explanation of the differences between the four Gospels and makes a compelling argument for why they cannot be read as if they were one book that need to be read to tell the one story, but rather four different tellings of the one story. It is not the similarities that are important in these stories, but their differences and what these differences mean is what is vitally important. He spends much time addressing the differences between Mark and Luke – particularly the passion and the remarkably different portrayals of Jesus in these two Gospels. For this stuff alone the book is worth reading. He also quotes some terribly interesting material regarding the transcription and duplication of the early manuscripts. To be honest, it is hard to imagine that this book survived its origins at all. He quotes one person who is charged with producing a copy of the New Testament who describes how he had to transcribe it letter by letter, given he could not read the language the New Testament he was transcribing was written in. Repeatedly we are told that if you compare the earliest manuscripts of the New Testament you will find that there are more differences between them than there are words in the New Testament. A nice line. Of course, like any evolutionary process, most of these differences are clearly errors and make little or not sense, are easily identified and are almost meaningless. However, some couldn’t be more important to understanding the nature of Jesus and the meaning of his life. He also describes, and makes compelling cases for, intentional changes to the text made by early groups of Christians and their possible motivations for making these changes. I was particularly interested in this as it turns out Paul may not have been the misogynist old prig I’d always taken him to be. Paul’s requirement that women are not to speak in Church – something I tend to raise every time people talk about Women Bishops or Women Priests as my little contribution illuminating how irrelevant Christianity is in today’s world – is asserted to be probably a later addition and is clearly a view that is contradicted elsewhere in the same letter by Paul. Anything that helps remove or even just undermines some of the more obnoxious and objectionable ideas in the Bible (hatred of women, gays, Jews, blacks for instance) can’t be a bad thing. Part of the reason the author says it is important to get some idea of the original text of the New Testament – for Christians and Non-Christians alike – is that The Bible is a cornerstone of our culture and this alone makes it an important document to understand. I don’t think this is as compelling an argument as he does – in fact, getting to the ‘original text’ is quite irrelevant to The Bible as a cultural artefact, as it wasn’t the original that impacted on our culture, but the innumerable ‘error filled’ versions throughout the years. Even if one was able to prove that the original version of the New Testament stated that Jesus was not the Son of God, but just a man who lived and died – what would that matter? Two thousand years of Western religious tradition would hardly vanish as a result – no matter how good the proof. No, the point is that this book and the story it tells really doesn’t require external motivations to justify its telling. The history it explains is completely fascinating in itself. As someone who has spent the last seven years reading over what has been essentially the same document with very minor changes (enterprise agreements all have maternity leave clauses and hours of work clauses – but all are potentially different) I found this book utterly compelling. I think I could have quite enjoyed a life as a Biblical scholar, tracking changes to texts and researching why those changes might not have been accidental. There are many people in the world to whom this book really should be made compulsory reading – for the rest of us no compulsion is necessary – it really is a pleasure to read.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Juhem Navarro

    If you read the reviews written in the Barnes and Noble website, you’ll probably see three types of review: 1. The smart ass academic or pseudoacademic who says the book isn’t that good anyway 2. The fundamentalist Christian appalled at the idea of someone doubting the infallibility of the Bible 3. Your average Joe that finds the book quite interesting In my case, I could be a #1 considering that I’m both a smart ass and an academic (or so I like to think). In the case ofMisquoting Jesus Cover bi If you read the reviews written in the Barnes and Noble website, you’ll probably see three types of review: 1. The smart ass academic or pseudoacademic who says the book isn’t that good anyway 2. The fundamentalist Christian appalled at the idea of someone doubting the infallibility of the Bible 3. Your average Joe that finds the book quite interesting In my case, I could be a #1 considering that I’m both a smart ass and an academic (or so I like to think). In the case ofMisquoting Jesus Cover biblical stuff, I’m more like a #3. I wouldn’t say it is the best book I have ever read, but it is a good book in three aspects. The first aspect is readability. In this case, it is a short and entertaining book. Ehrman doesn’t go into unnecessary details on how textual criticism is conducted, but gives you an idea of how gruesome the process can be. Additionally, the side story of how he converted from a fundie believer in biblical literalism to an agnostic (or if you prefer an “atheist without balls” as Stephen Colbert called him) is both interesting and a little sad. The second aspect is in the delivery of the goods. Some of the B&N reviewers complained that “Misquoting Jesus” is a misnomer, but I disagree. In several instances he mentions how the things that Jesus [supposedly] said were changed by scribes or even by the gospel authors (yes Luke, you know what you did). In this case the subtitle “The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why” is more revealing. This is because he tells us some of the more common reasons to make mistakes transcribing ancient texts (reason #1: no Microsoft Word, heck! not even Gutenberg Print). People got distracted, people got tired, others weren’t very good at neither reading nor writing yet were considered literate in a time when a very small percentage of people knew how to read or write. And sometimes they changed stuff to meet their beliefs (just like some people overlook the fact that Rick Ankiel probably used HGH because they like him). In this sense the book is revealing because he is not talking about conspiracy theories (sorry DaVinci Code fans) but about how incredibly human is this supposedly divine book. Finally it provides a little perspective into what was going on during those early days of Christianity. Just like there are many interpretations these days, there were many interpretations in those days (and some way too odd). In a way the bible instead of being inspired, evolved for many many years until some loosely unified theology arose in which most could agree (Jesus is God, God is Jesus, both are the Holy Ghost…and nobody thinks it is a little schizophrenic?). I also used the word evolved combined with bible to piss off the intelligent designers out there. Why I recommend this book? Because of the reasons stated above and because if it wasn’t for this book, we would need to read all the scholarship out there and maybe even learn Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Coptic, Aramaic, and whatever. Also, because it is pissing off fundies everywhere.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jeffrey

    Please, if you're Christian, read this. If you're religious, read this. If you're atheist, read this. I guess what I'm saying is read this. Misquoting Jesus reminds me of the game we played in elementary school. The teacher whispers a story in the ear of one child and it's whispered from one ear to the next until the last child tells the story out loud. And guess what? It's considerably different from the original. No dah! Well, imagine this . . . A book is copied over and over and over by monks Please, if you're Christian, read this. If you're religious, read this. If you're atheist, read this. I guess what I'm saying is read this. Misquoting Jesus reminds me of the game we played in elementary school. The teacher whispers a story in the ear of one child and it's whispered from one ear to the next until the last child tells the story out loud. And guess what? It's considerably different from the original. No dah! Well, imagine this . . . A book is copied over and over and over by monks that are human, prone to error, bias, deceit, and so on. And guess what? Jesus' story changes. No dah! Here's another point to consider. Even if the book were in its original form, you'd still have arguments. For what about the law "Thou shall not kill"? Not a lot of detail on what to do here. What if your country asks you to go to war, do you kill? What if someone threatens your child's life, do you kill? During a discussion, a student of mine of a particular Christian sect piped up and desired to end the discussion by saying, "Well, just do what the Bible tells you to do." OK, people have been doing that for years, and if there were only one way of doing things, why so many sects? Just look in the phone book and you get lost in all the churches in there. This is an essential book for anyone who wants a better critical thinking understanding of how "the story" can go astray based on what individuals think, feel, and hear, based on bias and personal filtering. A must read.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~

    Before I write my review, I must emphasize that this book is not making a case against Christianity. It in no way seeks to destroy the your faith, your system of belief, or convert you to atheism/agnosticism. I feel this is an important disclaimer. Something about me, I always feel very lost when it comes to selecting educational books on my own. I don't like to perpetuate false information, and it's overwhelming to select literature that maintains an interesting narrative while also providin Before I write my review, I must emphasize that this book is not making a case against Christianity. It in no way seeks to destroy the your faith, your system of belief, or convert you to atheism/agnosticism. I feel this is an important disclaimer. Something about me, I always feel very lost when it comes to selecting educational books on my own. I don't like to perpetuate false information, and it's overwhelming to select literature that maintains an interesting narrative while also providing facts and support for its claims. Those qualifications, however, are exceeded in Misquoting Jesus. As I stated earlier, this book doesn't set out to destroy your beliefs. Rather, it challenges you to consider how and why one of the most significant books in history was changed from it's original conception into the Bible we know today. While reading this, I decided to view it in the same way a member of a jury may view a prosecutor's statements in a court case. The goal is not necessarily to prove what "for certain happened", but rather to raise questions based on logic and contextual evidence as to what "could have potentially happened instead." Through examples, citations, and logical analysis, Ehrman contemplates how differences in the manuscripts of the New Testament were the product of scribes, both intentional and unintentional. While a large portion of these differences tend to be considered irrelevant, the fact that they exist in the first place is important to consider. If these changes, clarifications, and mistakes exist in what we have of old manuscripts, it is reasonable to consider that the Bible we have today is not the same Bible that was written as the inspired Word of God during it's origination. Because of this, it is also reasonable to take the words of the Bible with a grain of salt. I found the examples in this book fascinating to say the least, and I feel as though both Christians and non-Christians alike should consider giving this a read. Ehrman backs up his analysis with citations and references, along with a long history of formal education on this topic. His arguments create a space for one to consider that reading the Bible should not necessarily be a literal experience. As someone who comes from a religious background, I have to agree with this conclusion. I rated this a 4 stars because there were a couple times when sentences got a little bit convoluted and I was forced to re-read to make sense of it. But overall, a wonderful book that is, for the most part, written in layman's terms. For those of us interested in analyzing the Bible, this is a must-read.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

    There is a lot of information here to digest, mull over and sort through. Ehrman’s assertions are backed up by over 130 notations citing over 70 sources. This is no study for the faint of heart and anyone who is dismissive after a mere perusal is asinine in their approach. All preconceptions aside, ‘Misquoting Jesus’ is not an assault on the Bible. It is an intelligent, well composed refutation of the delusional concept of biblical inerrancy, and even though most of the scriptural inconsistencie There is a lot of information here to digest, mull over and sort through. Ehrman’s assertions are backed up by over 130 notations citing over 70 sources. This is no study for the faint of heart and anyone who is dismissive after a mere perusal is asinine in their approach. All preconceptions aside, ‘Misquoting Jesus’ is not an assault on the Bible. It is an intelligent, well composed refutation of the delusional concept of biblical inerrancy, and even though most of the scriptural inconsistencies (there are literally thousands!) are minor and inconsequential, many are not. Those who insist that the entire aggregate of errors, additions, deletions, and mistranslations are “trivial” either haven’t read the New Testament critically or just aren’t reading the same goddamn book as the rest of us.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Skylar Burris

    While I found it interesting to see what differed in various manuscripts, I did not find any of these changes as sensational, apparently, as the back cover blurb writers did. Ehrman's subject and thesis are interesting, but, unfortunately, he is quite repetitive and his arguments are poorly organized. The introduction and conclusion are the clearest, most arresting portions of the book. The introduction is an intriguing spiritual autobiography, but his conclusion leans a little too heavily towar While I found it interesting to see what differed in various manuscripts, I did not find any of these changes as sensational, apparently, as the back cover blurb writers did. Ehrman's subject and thesis are interesting, but, unfortunately, he is quite repetitive and his arguments are poorly organized. The introduction and conclusion are the clearest, most arresting portions of the book. The introduction is an intriguing spiritual autobiography, but his conclusion leans a little too heavily towards deconstructionism for my taste: he states there is no meaning inherent in text. It is certainly true that texts give rise to multiple interpretations, but it is equally true that some interpretations are more correct than others. The book will be disturbing to those who regard the Bible as a single entity sprung full grown like Athena from Zeus's head. It will be far less disturbing to those whose Christianity has been rooted in an appreciation of both scripture and tradition. Although Ehrman's thesis was interesting, the problem is that you can take any of these phrases or words that are found in some New Testament manuscripts and not others and draw from that fact whatever implications you desire. The difference can mean something or next to nothing, and, to Ehrman, they seem to mean a bit too much. I often had the impression that he was making mountains out of molehills. Ehrman also often attributes complicated theological and social motives to scribes when much simpler motives would suffice. Most of the changes and additions that were made were recognized as such and therefore were not incorporated into our modern Bibles. Even those very few additions or changes that were incorporated into our modern Bibles are inconsequential; it would not alter orthodox doctrine one iota if they were eliminated, because all of the doctrines they bolster find support elsewhere in uncontested passages of the New Testament. In fact, even in Ehrman's own argument, the orthodox ideas were formed and THEN verses were altered to support them; it therefore cannot be reasonably argued that these changes have in any way affected the formation of orthodox doctrine. It is not as if the creedal doctrines we have today are based on some misquoted text; the ideas came first, even before the textual changes; they were drawn from the scriptures as a whole, and not from any one single verse. What Ehrman does make a good case for (though this does not at all seem to be his goal) is the idea that the orthodox tradition is as valuable as scripture, which many denominations recognize explicitly and most recognize implicitly (by the fact that they accept the canon as a canon at all). In the end, Ehrman is not saying anything new, anything that has not been said by textual critics for years and years and years. Somehow, though, he has managed to break through to a more general audience, and that takes talent. Unfortunately, however, that general audience may be ill informed about Christian history and theology and doctrine and its origins and may not be able to put the facts he reveals into context. I believe anyone who reads this should, for the sake of balance, also read Timothy Paul Jones's "Misquoting Truth."

  7. 5 out of 5

    Alejandro

    Great reading about the foundation of Christian religion THAT HOLY BOOK The Bible, one of the most read book in the world, it's curious and quite ingenious how in the early beginning of Christian religion was selected and manipulated the several tons of scriptures that they were around and somebody needs to put them in some controlled order. How the most "popular" scriptures were chosen to be the "official" ones, and how the Christian religion had to take over other popular celebrations to Great reading about the foundation of Christian religion THAT HOLY BOOK The Bible, one of the most read book in the world, it's curious and quite ingenious how in the early beginning of Christian religion was selected and manipulated the several tons of scriptures that they were around and somebody needs to put them in some controlled order. How the most "popular" scriptures were chosen to be the "official" ones, and how the Christian religion had to take over other popular celebrations to make its way to the people and becoming one of the most followed religious doctrines. Also, how people often "quote" the Bible, when in many, MANY times, they are misquoting the Holy Book, but it's not anybody's fault in many cases, since even when a lot of the published stuff was put "in order", kings and scholars "changed" the canon, but not only from holy sources, but even from folk stories that comply with their wishes in how they wanted to conduct the collective mind. Sometimes the reasons were well intended, sometimes don't, but at the end, it's the reader who decides how those scriptures helped to find spiritual help, mental guidance, or just a most needed relieve. Amen.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Wendy

    As a biblical scholar, the author wanted to read the Bible in the languages in which it was first written and so studied them and went deeper into the texts. His decision to go deeper, to fully appreciate it, led him to find out as the old saying goes more than he bargained for. It led him to reevaluate his faith which had been based on a belief in the literal truth of what he had been taught it said and in the inerrancy of it as brought down thru the ages..as it was originally written. What he As a biblical scholar, the author wanted to read the Bible in the languages in which it was first written and so studied them and went deeper into the texts. His decision to go deeper, to fully appreciate it, led him to find out as the old saying goes more than he bargained for. It led him to reevaluate his faith which had been based on a belief in the literal truth of what he had been taught it said and in the inerrancy of it as brought down thru the ages..as it was originally written. What he discovered was that the Bible had been changed many times by those who were translating it, copying in, interpreting it, and even adding to it for a variety of reasons. He learned of all the various debates over the nature of Jesus and God and the schools of thought which were responded to by later copyists who "clarified" and reinforced their side of the debates by adding to the text. He applied his expertise in analyzing the multilayered mysteries of alterations and has provided us a rich and fascinating glimpse into history including the context of various forms of Christian beliefs through the centuries, the purpose of some of the writers and the identification of multiple or single more ancient sources for some of the writing and its authorship and of controversies about the role and nature of Jesus which sparked such changes and forever changes the readers understanding of what the Bible can provide. I thought perhaps one of the most interesting insights I gained is how rewriting, adding or editing was an accepted practice and not as so many today would imagine as sacrilidge and evil and not in keeping with the Biblical writings being "holy or sacred" texts. The last person who consciously edited the new testament to strip it of what he thought was wrong, false, and irrelevant to its message was Thomas Jefferson who did so not as a surreptitious amender but who set off his version as standing on its own as an independent book, a slim volume known as The Jefferson Bible. Not something that a current President or crop of candidates would DARE to admit to even thinking of doing in this time of evangelical religiousity . Again, much is revealed about the temper of the times and how attitudes toward the Bible and its use has changed over time even within the last few hundred years thru books such as these. I heartily recommend it.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Shaun

    This was pretty good for what it was, a textual criticism of the Bible. Sure it's a little repetitive at times, but I think this is the result of the author trying to simplify and explain a complex topic to an ignorant (at least relatively ignorant) audience. Bart Ehrman attended Moody Bible College and finished his Bachelors degree at Wheaton College. He then received his PhD and M.Div from Princeton Theological Seminary. A born-again Christian, Ehrman's desire to understand the Bible led him to This was pretty good for what it was, a textual criticism of the Bible. Sure it's a little repetitive at times, but I think this is the result of the author trying to simplify and explain a complex topic to an ignorant (at least relatively ignorant) audience. Bart Ehrman attended Moody Bible College and finished his Bachelors degree at Wheaton College. He then received his PhD and M.Div from Princeton Theological Seminary. A born-again Christian, Ehrman's desire to understand the Bible led him to study ancient languages and develop the art and skill of textual criticism, a branch of text scholarship which concerns itself with the identification and removal of errors from text. Through his studies he began to doubt that the Bible was indeed the inerrant word of God based on the fact that it suffered from centuries of editing problems. In his opinion, how can we trust that the Bible is God's word if the words have been (repeatedly) either intentionally or unintentionally changed. Aside from the obvious indication that the Bible is not the absolute perfect word of God, or if it is, then surely the words of an incompetent one as the Bible was manipulated throughout history, I found this to be an interesting read. I now better understand the origin of the Christian religion and it's refinement. Reading this, I was reminded of discussions that we have in the US over our constitution and the "original" intent and our present interpretation. The fact that we've needed to amend our constitution speaks volume about the complications innate in trying to live by a document that was written in a different time and that's when we can verify and agree on the original wording. Some things I learned: Though this might seem obvious to others, the point that most if not all early Christians were unable to read had not been something I gave much thought to before. Even many of the early translators could not read and were merely reproducing symbols. This would seem to encourage errors of all kinds. I had heard that the Bible was an incomplete canon representing various literary works at the time, but did not realize how many were excluded or how many of those included were collections of letters, some written by the original speaker and others written by others using that person's name. I learned that at the time of Christ, there were three distinct groups of believers...those who believed he was merely a man, those that believed he was both man and "god" simultaneously, and those who believed he was a man inhabited by Christ's spirit. I also did not realize that a number of Christians believed that the God of the Old Testament was a different God from that of the New Testament. Thus the Christianity we know today was not born in its "pure" form but evolved over time. This seems like a no brainer, but until reading this book and despite being brought up a Christian, I had never explored this idea thoroughly. I had no idea, nor did I think about, how many copies of the Bible were made using the most antiquated form of publication. I liked that Ehrman provided a number of examples of passages that were changed/added or taken away and the cultural context under which this was done. He also provided examples of the unintentional/editing errors that a process of dictation and hand copying texts that used no punctuation or spacing would tend to produce under even the best circumstances. I also have a better understanding of the rift between Christianity and Judaism. I definitely learned what textual criticism is and how it was/is (because we continue to fine new texts) used to try and recreate the original texts of the Bible as well as all the complications that make it difficult to actually do. Interestingly, I read a review this morning that said most Christians already know all about these "problems" and they don't care, but I don't find that to be the case. I'm sure many Christians I know would find ways to rationalize the inconsistencies away, but the origin and possible errors in the Bible are not something that is openly discussed in most Churches and not something the masses are aware of. I'm not sure whom I would recommend this to. Prior to reading this book, I did not view the Bible as the inerrant word of God (though I know many who do), but still I appreciated the history. I'm not sure how a believer would react to this. Yet whether a Christian or not, Christianity is a major player in the world we live in, and understanding it (good and bad) somehow seems worthwhile. Ehrman is now an atheist. I would be interested in reading a book from a believer's perspective. It would be worthwhile, I think, to see how that person would deal with the issues Ehrman has brought up.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Lena

    Ehrman was just a teenager when he had a born-again experience that led him to devote his life to the study of Christianity. Hoping to help defend the Bible as the true word of God, he focused his studies on the origins of the Bible, only to discover that the history of a book whose words many faithful take as infallible truth is nowhere near as clear as most people would like to believe. It seems that God suffered the same fate as many great writers and had his words altered by numerous editors Ehrman was just a teenager when he had a born-again experience that led him to devote his life to the study of Christianity. Hoping to help defend the Bible as the true word of God, he focused his studies on the origins of the Bible, only to discover that the history of a book whose words many faithful take as infallible truth is nowhere near as clear as most people would like to believe. It seems that God suffered the same fate as many great writers and had his words altered by numerous editors, from sloppy scribes to church leaders seeking to make the Bible support their particular interpretation the gospel. Ehrman details with convincing clarity how earlier versions of the Bible vary greatly on such teachings as the role of women in the church and even the divinity of Christ himself. Highly recommended for anyone affected by the idea that the Bible is the true and unaltered word of God.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Nat

    A must for anyone who wants to know WHY the Bible isn't inerrant. A wonderful work by a biblical scholar who was motivated by his deep faith and only wanted to find the truth. One of the most interesting aspects is that the reader will come to understand how biblical scholars work and the methods they use to decide which text represents an older tradition than another text. Also, those new to the study of comparative religion will probably be amazed to learn (or refuse to believe) that some part A must for anyone who wants to know WHY the Bible isn't inerrant. A wonderful work by a biblical scholar who was motivated by his deep faith and only wanted to find the truth. One of the most interesting aspects is that the reader will come to understand how biblical scholars work and the methods they use to decide which text represents an older tradition than another text. Also, those new to the study of comparative religion will probably be amazed to learn (or refuse to believe) that some parts of the Bible were deliberately changed for political purposes, while others were changed due to mistakes, either of interpretation or of copy-error. In any case, a fascinating and well-written book.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Martin Pierce

    There were minor variations in the New Testament manuscripts. This is old news. Unfortunately, Ehrman, a former fundamentalist Christian, thinks it's such a big deal that it casts doubt on the veracity of the Christian faith. Practically nobody agrees, except for people like atheists who already have a bone to pick with Christians. The truth is that no other ancient text is as well supported as the New Testament. Minor variations are to be expected. The ones we find the the NT manuscripts don't There were minor variations in the New Testament manuscripts. This is old news. Unfortunately, Ehrman, a former fundamentalist Christian, thinks it's such a big deal that it casts doubt on the veracity of the Christian faith. Practically nobody agrees, except for people like atheists who already have a bone to pick with Christians. The truth is that no other ancient text is as well supported as the New Testament. Minor variations are to be expected. The ones we find the the NT manuscripts don't affect any significant doctrines.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Mitch

    First of all, for a man who values the exact words written down by writers and copyists, it is ironic that this book is so titled. In all of the examples the author uses to show how New Testament texts have been altered, almost none contain anything Jesus actually said. I can only surmise that falsely leading readers into believing the opposite would sell more books. But let's move on to the content. Textual criticism is not a science. It takes hold of old manuscripts, compares them, applies certa First of all, for a man who values the exact words written down by writers and copyists, it is ironic that this book is so titled. In all of the examples the author uses to show how New Testament texts have been altered, almost none contain anything Jesus actually said. I can only surmise that falsely leading readers into believing the opposite would sell more books. But let's move on to the content. Textual criticism is not a science. It takes hold of old manuscripts, compares them, applies certain principles and then each individual scholar doing this pronounces his learned opinion on something he can never prove. In brief, he piles conjectures on top of suppositions. Granted, some of these are more convincing than others, but in the end conclusions are left to the belief of the audience. Historically, textural critics have strongly disagreed with one another's conclusions and that continues today. If the scholars argue and don't agree, then how does this help the layman? In view of this, it's hard to appreciate the lofty value that textual critics hold of their work. Additionally, I found that most of the texts listed as examples made no difference to me personally no matter which way they were interpreted. All this led me to wonder what Jesus would have made of all this. I think he would have wanted them to stop micro-analyzing every word and start living them. But that's just my unscholarly opinion.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Eric_W

    There was no New Testament until the fourth century. Until that time assorted factions warred over all sorts of different beliefs about Jesus. Some thought he was all human, others he was all God. Some believed there were many gods, others there must be only a few. Their assorted beliefs were transcribed by the individual congregations themselves, obviously representing their own particular view of reality. What happened to those oral and written traditions and documents and how they evolved and There was no New Testament until the fourth century. Until that time assorted factions warred over all sorts of different beliefs about Jesus. Some thought he was all human, others he was all God. Some believed there were many gods, others there must be only a few. Their assorted beliefs were transcribed by the individual congregations themselves, obviously representing their own particular view of reality. What happened to those oral and written traditions and documents and how they evolved and were eventually codified is the subject of Ehrman's fascinating book. Ehrman had a born-again experience in high school and was persuaded to go to Moody Bible Institute to further his understanding. He became interested in scriptural exegesis and transferred to Wheaton, another evangelical fortress, (although considered far too liberal by the Moody folks. Thinking it was impossible to learn the true meaning in translation he found himself soon at Princeton Theological Seminary, a downright bastion liberal thinking where he studied Greek and eventually Hebrew. Already at Moody he had become fascinated by scriptural differences and seeming contradictions. The details of the Crucifixion differ between Mark and John, for example. Could one of them have made a mistake. And when Jesus said the mustard seed was the smallest of all the seeds on earth in the parable, did he make a mistake as we know it's not the smallest seed. Was it incorrectly translated? Was information copied incorrectly? He learned that we have no originals and the copies we do have of Scripture are copies of copies and we lack even the copies closest to the originals. How can we know what the word of God means if we don't know what those words area? These are the puzzles that intrigued Ehrman and ultimately resulted in a shift from a literal and inerrant view of the Bible to a view of it as a very humanly created document. The problem of determining what was actually intended by the original writer was made difficult through a number of factors. The copyists were often illiterate; those who were not would often (there are numerous contemporary complaints of this) change words to suit their own purposes, sometimes to change the meaning, other times by mistake, or sometimes thinking they were correcting an earlier mistake. To make things worse, the manuscripts were often in scriptio continua where there are no capital letters, nor punctuation, nor spaces between the words, e.g. ΜΟΥΣΑΩΝΕΛΙΚΩΝΙΑΔΩΝΑΡΧΩΜΕΘΑΕΙΔΕΙΝΑΙΘΕΛΙΚΩΝΟΣΕΧΟΥΣΙΝΟΡΟΣΜΕΓΑΤΕΖΑΘΕΟΝΤΕΚΑΙΠΕΡΙΚΡΗΝΗΙΟΕΙΔΕΑΠΟΣΣΑΠΑΛΟΙΣΙΝΟΡΧΕΥΝΤΑΙΚΑΙΒΩΜΟΝΕΡΙΣΘΕΝΕΟΣΚΡΟΝΙΩΝΟΣ. In modern Greek that would be Μουσάων Ἑλικωνιάδων ἀρχώμεθ᾽ ἀείδειν, αἵ θ᾽ Ἑλικῶνος ἔχουσιν ὄρος μέγα τε ζάθεόν τε καί τε περὶ κρήνην ἰοειδέα πόσσ᾽ ἁπαλοῖσιν ὀρχεῦνται καὶ βωμὸν ἐρισθενέος Κρονίωνος. Often the earliest manuscripts we have date from centuries after they were originally written and many generations of copies later. This led inevitably to entire lines being dropped as a copier, often illiterate, might skip a line, especially when two lines ended with the same or similar letters. All of this uncertainty was an especial problem for Protestants whose faith relied on the "word" as delivered in the Bible, but if that "word" was uncertain then doesn't that weaken the foundations of that faith? Celsus and Origen in the 2nd century were already noting the substantial number of differences between the texts and a century later Pope Damascus commissioned Jerome to examine the texts and see if he could determine the original version. In just one illustration of many of the effect this cold have on faith is the example of J.J. Wettstein, who, in the early 18th century, sought to find the original words and he given access to the Codex Alexandrinus where is was startled to note problems with Timothy 1 3:16, a passage that had been used to justify the belief that Jesus was God. For the text, in most manuscripts, refers to Christ as "God made manifest in the flesh, and justified in the Spirit." Most manuscripts abbreviate sacred names (the so­-called nomina sacra), and that is the case here as well, where the Greek word God (theos)is abbreviated in two letters, theta and sigma, with a line drawn over the top to indicate that it is an abbreviation What Wettstein noticed in examining Codex Alexandri­nus was that the line over the top had been drawn in a different ink from the surrounding words, and so appeared to be from a later hand (i.e., written by a later scribe). Moreover, the horizontal line in the middle of the first letter, theta, was not actually a part of the letter but was a line that had bled through from the other side of the old vellum. In other words, rather than being the abbreviation (theta­ sigma) for "God", the word was actually an omicron and a sigma, a different word altogether, which simply means "who." The original reading of the manuscript thus did not speak of Christ as "God made manifest in the flesh" but of Christ "who was made manifest in the flesh." According to the ancient testimony of the Codex Alexandri­nus, Christ is no longer explicitly called God in this passage. Well, this was a bit much for Wettstein who began to question his own faith and he remarked how rarely in the New Testament that Jesus is called God. Becoming rather vocal about the problem (shades of Arius v Athanasius )-- see href="https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... "he aroused the ire of the orthodox. "Deacon Wettstein is preaching what is un­orthodox, is making statements in his lectures opposed to the teaching of the Reformed Church, and has in hand the printing of a Greek New Testament in which some dangerous innovations very suspect of Socinianism [a doctrine that denied the divinity of Christ] will appear." Called to account for his views before the university senate, he was found to have "rationalistic" views that denied the plenary inspiration of scripture and the existence of the devil and demons, and that focused attention on scriptural obscurities." It's a thrilling book, really interesting as an example of how scholars work through textual history, but one that is perhaps a bit misleading. A review on an atheist website noted that something Ehrman doesn't emphasize is that because we have so many variants and texts available to us does not question the validity of what we now have, but rather helps in the determination of the actual original text from which they might be derived. (That review is worth reading: http://commonsenseatheism.com/?p=27)

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jessaka

    5,Boring Stars For years I have heard at the bible has been changed, but I never knew how and why. This author tells us why and how come, but it is such boring information. Still I am glad that he took the time and put all His energy into riding the mini books that He has written. End to be truthful, the bible the Hindus scriptures and the Buddha scriptures have always bored me. What was I doing in all of these religions? I had been told and the bible supports this, all scripture is inspired by Go 5,Boring Stars For years I have heard at the bible has been changed, but I never knew how and why. This author tells us why and how come, but it is such boring information. Still I am glad that he took the time and put all His energy into riding the mini books that He has written. End to be truthful, the bible the Hindus scriptures and the Buddha scriptures have always bored me. What was I doing in all of these religions? I had been told and the bible supports this, all scripture is inspired by God. If so, then why are there so many mistakes and why didn't God stop the various scribes from changing things I know longer believe that any holy scripture is from god but is man-made. Still I believe in a creator. Note. This review was dictated.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ojo

    A real eye opener. I'm familiar with the point the author was trying to make in this book. For a couple of years now, I've known the Bible isn't as infallible as most Christians make it look. I've know that the book is littered with errors by its writers throughout history. But I haven't had time to do a proper research on the forms these errors took. Reading this book has saved me a lot of time. It's a bit unfortunate most Christians aren't aware of Biblical textual criticism. It's almost like A real eye opener. I'm familiar with the point the author was trying to make in this book. For a couple of years now, I've known the Bible isn't as infallible as most Christians make it look. I've know that the book is littered with errors by its writers throughout history. But I haven't had time to do a proper research on the forms these errors took. Reading this book has saved me a lot of time. It's a bit unfortunate most Christians aren't aware of Biblical textual criticism. It's almost like they've assumed God Himself personally penned the words of the Bible. And it's even more unfortunate that most Christians don't bother with getting information on how the Bible came about. Most are happy to swallow the dogmas of their religious sects hook, line and sinker, without bothering to filter and see if the Words still exist in their original sense. While this book will definitely be branded as heretic by Christian fanatics, it's a must read for every truth seeking Christian.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Brian Griffith

    Ehrman believes the history of our great stories matters, and his exploration of the New Testament's evolution is an enormous accomplishment. This is a work building on hundreds of years of research, for example, Stephanus's 1550 translation with marginal notes identifying variations between 14 different ancient Greek manuscripts. Or John Mill's 1707 comparison of over 100 Greek manuscripts to show 30,000 points of difference. And Ehrman's data base includes over 5,700 manuscripts in Greek alone Ehrman believes the history of our great stories matters, and his exploration of the New Testament's evolution is an enormous accomplishment. This is a work building on hundreds of years of research, for example, Stephanus's 1550 translation with marginal notes identifying variations between 14 different ancient Greek manuscripts. Or John Mill's 1707 comparison of over 100 Greek manuscripts to show 30,000 points of difference. And Ehrman's data base includes over 5,700 manuscripts in Greek alone, which yield a total of between 200,000 to 400,000 varients among them. While comparing manuscripts, Ehrman gives us a parallel history of arguments and riposts among scholarly egos, making this a fascinating human story. We have, for example, the French Catholic scholar Richard Simon who in 1689 produced "A Critical History of the Text of the New Testament," giving a partisan blast at Protestant rejection of Church tradition in favor of reliance on scripture alone: "The great changes that have taken place in the manuscripts of the Bible ... since the first originals were lost, completely destroy the principle of the Protestants ..., who consult only these same manuscripts of the Bible in the form they are today. If the truth of religion had not lived on in the Church, it would not be safe to look for it now in books that have been subjected to so many changes and that in so many matters were dependent on the will of the copyists." Do all these differences among ancient hand-copied versions of the Bible make any difference? Ehrman shows they do at many important points -- concerning Jesus, women, Jews, leadership, and more. That's the really good part. I think this book is a big step forward in separating wheat from chaff in the scriptures.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Becky

    I originally started my review with a big long rant about why even though I still believe in God I no longer go to church or even believe in organized religion. I’m truncating it down to this: the unexamined faith, just like the unexamined life, is not worth living. I feel that if more people understood that modern day Christianity is a product of its times but also the product of what was once a very diverse systems of beliefs and understandings of Jesus’ role, or that it is recognized fact tha I originally started my review with a big long rant about why even though I still believe in God I no longer go to church or even believe in organized religion. I’m truncating it down to this: the unexamined faith, just like the unexamined life, is not worth living. I feel that if more people understood that modern day Christianity is a product of its times but also the product of what was once a very diverse systems of beliefs and understandings of Jesus’ role, or that it is recognized fact that the Bible was changed (over and over again) and that these changes if reverted would change many Christians fundamental belief structures, that we would have a much more tolerant church and perhaps a more unified church. What is the point over arguing about and schisming over a few lines of the Bible when a) you aren’t reading it in the original language any ways and b) that verse didn’t even show up in the bible until the 1600s. I am an advocate for a more informed faith and to many that has made me seem like a dangerous heretic (though I mostly keep to myself so maybe not that dangerous, just a heretic, but that sounds less interesting). So if you want to have an informed faith and make your own decisions about the reliability of your scripture or at least the translation you are using I highly recommend Dr. Ehrman’s works- both Misquoting Jesus and Lost Christianiaties. Both are books that are amazingly researched and make complex topics accessible. I wish that I had this book in text version so that I could have easily stopped reading and looked directly at the verses that were being cited or so I could easily refer back to specific notes the book made. I will warn that it is a bit repetitive but the arguments and presentation are sound.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Emily Ann Meyer

    I wish there were a 1/2 star method, because I didn't quite like this up to 4 stars, but I liked it more than 3. The book was not quite what I expected, inasmuch as it focused a lot more on the individual motivations of scribes and/or transcription errors rather than the major political and theological debates that also contributed to changes in the text. There is much of this that I already knew - changes are made and mistakes happen. What was new to me, and what really made me sit up and take n I wish there were a 1/2 star method, because I didn't quite like this up to 4 stars, but I liked it more than 3. The book was not quite what I expected, inasmuch as it focused a lot more on the individual motivations of scribes and/or transcription errors rather than the major political and theological debates that also contributed to changes in the text. There is much of this that I already knew - changes are made and mistakes happen. What was new to me, and what really made me sit up and take notice, was the major impact in interpretation some of these changes had. That, for example, the entire story that concludes with the adage "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone," was a later addition. Or that no where in the New Testament (barring later changes) is Jesus' divinity explicitly called out. Or, and the one that gave me goosebumps considering how much it was emphasized in my own confirmation classes - that the entire idea of the trinity hangs on the placement of a comma. Or that the exhortation that women should be silent and submissive was likely the opinion of a scribe copying given how much it contradicts earlier documents (which, in fact, have female disciples - take that everyone opposed to female priesthood!) Changes between gospels were also interesting - I was aware of some - but others were new to me. What would've been an interesting expansion of this is to get into, as I mentioned above, some of the external forces impacting these changes - Ehrmann talks about various competing facets, but only in a brief chapter. Another interesting way to add depth might get into the council of Nicea and other early church gatherings where the selection of the books of the bible was made - how did the choice of what was to become "canon" impact the potential interpretation of these books that may have then led to potential scriptural changes?

  20. 4 out of 5

    11811 (Eleven)

    The repetition in this book was ridiculous. I don't know how many times the author mentioned that the gospels are copies of copies of copies but it was more than a few. Probably more than a dozen. Eventually, he gets to examples which made it interesting but I'm hoping the book he released todayJesus Before the Gospels: How the Earliest Christians Remembered, Changed, and Invented Their Stories of the Savior, has fewer redundancies. I'm about to find out. This was a decent introduction to the to The repetition in this book was ridiculous. I don't know how many times the author mentioned that the gospels are copies of copies of copies but it was more than a few. Probably more than a dozen. Eventually, he gets to examples which made it interesting but I'm hoping the book he released todayJesus Before the Gospels: How the Earliest Christians Remembered, Changed, and Invented Their Stories of the Savior, has fewer redundancies. I'm about to find out. This was a decent introduction to the topic and the most memorable comment for me was that "There are more errors than there are words in the New Testament." For those who believe that scripture is the inerrant word of God, this begs the question - which copy?

  21. 4 out of 5

    David

    Ehrman did a good job of explaining textual criticism for the average person. The reason I only give two stars is because I learned pretty much everything he says in this book at a conservative evangelical seminary. In other words, he writes as if these things are a shocking secret to Christians when most Christians, even the most evangelical ones, learned this ages ago and are fine with it. This book should encourage Christian teachers and pastors to teach these things to the people in their ch Ehrman did a good job of explaining textual criticism for the average person. The reason I only give two stars is because I learned pretty much everything he says in this book at a conservative evangelical seminary. In other words, he writes as if these things are a shocking secret to Christians when most Christians, even the most evangelical ones, learned this ages ago and are fine with it. This book should encourage Christian teachers and pastors to teach these things to the people in their churches so that books such as this do not seem so shocking.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Emma Ann

    Engaging and illuminating. A deconstruction and/or ex-evangelical must-read. Reading this book made me feel like I was sitting in class with one of my best professors. The author does a commendable job of explaining a potentially touchy subject without giving you the sense that he has any particular axe to grind.

  23. 5 out of 5

    C. Scott

    This is the kind of book that can totally reshape a person's outlook on religion and even life itself. Seeing the meddling hands of man in what some consider a "perfect" document is revelatory. I hesitate to say that this book "disproves" anything in the bible, because I realize that's a real trigger for some. I will say that anyone who clings to ideas about biblical inerrancy will struggle to withstand the challenge that this work provides. Ehrman says that there are at least 400,000 inconsistenc This is the kind of book that can totally reshape a person's outlook on religion and even life itself. Seeing the meddling hands of man in what some consider a "perfect" document is revelatory. I hesitate to say that this book "disproves" anything in the bible, because I realize that's a real trigger for some. I will say that anyone who clings to ideas about biblical inerrancy will struggle to withstand the challenge that this work provides. Ehrman says that there are at least 400,000 inconsistencies in the various iterations of the New Testament passed down through the ages. That's more inconsistencies than there are words in the New Testament. Some changes are clearly accidental, made by lazy or sloppy scribes copying for hours on end. Other changes betray more sinister intent to color the words of the gospels or epistles to agree with one's own personal feelings or interpretations. I remember one of my college professors sniffing at the "terrible Greek" found in the Gospels. Early scribes, copying Greek or Latin, sometimes got their job by the most forgiving possible definition of literacy. ("Can the scribe read and write his own name? Good, he is literate.") It wasn't until the fifth century, after Constantine's deathbed conversion, that professional scribes got into the New Testament business. That means there were hundreds of years of amateurs and conflicting sects peddling their version of the Good News. It was fascinating to learn about the value of different ancient manuscripts that have been dug up over time. It was still more fascinating to learn about the competing theological disputes amongst the earliest Christians and how their disagreements made it into the New Testament we know today. Someone very close to me has spent decades going to bible study fellowship. But I feel like bible study rarely means actually studying the text and finding new understanding in the same way that the textual critics, like the one who wrote this book, do. I think this book would be seen as a huge threat to certain, rigid Christian worldviews. To me it was phenomenal.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    As a believer in "verbal plenary inspiration", which this author once cherished but came to see as ridiculous, I am curious to hear his experience and case. I want to admit up front that I already find myself distrusting his conclusions because of an assumption/leap-in-logic that he made back on page 11 about God's motives and choices. But, that said, he still holds my interest on a number of points. Update: I am kind of disappointed in this author, because I feel like he promised these earth-sha As a believer in "verbal plenary inspiration", which this author once cherished but came to see as ridiculous, I am curious to hear his experience and case. I want to admit up front that I already find myself distrusting his conclusions because of an assumption/leap-in-logic that he made back on page 11 about God's motives and choices. But, that said, he still holds my interest on a number of points. Update: I am kind of disappointed in this author, because I feel like he promised these earth-shattering finds against the integrity of the Bible's message, yet most of what he brought up were single-word or single-verse translation differences so widely known that they are noted in the footnotes of several popular English translations already. (i.e. That information is already publicly available.) Yes, the Bibles we all read are translations, and are copies of copies of copies etc. of originals that are long gone. So questioning the priority of a word or sentence as I read seems logical, but the main message of the Bible (God offering free forgiveness through Jesus because he loves us and we need him) is so repeated and dominant that even several scribes/copyists changing a word or line in several manuscripts is still not going to affect all of the manuscripts/records or cause people to miss the point.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Erik Graff

    Ehrman claims that this, his overview of the formulations of what have come down to us as the texts of the Christian Scriptures, is a work that hadn't been done before. That is a bit of an overstatement. Any work of textual criticism applied to this corpus must needs cover such ground. Such originality as there is to Jesus Misquoted is in its engagingly accessible style. Usually I find self-reference off-putting when used in scholarship. In this case, however, Ehrman's introductory account of how Ehrman claims that this, his overview of the formulations of what have come down to us as the texts of the Christian Scriptures, is a work that hadn't been done before. That is a bit of an overstatement. Any work of textual criticism applied to this corpus must needs cover such ground. Such originality as there is to Jesus Misquoted is in its engagingly accessible style. Usually I find self-reference off-putting when used in scholarship. In this case, however, Ehrman's introductory account of how he evolved from being a serious scriptural inerrancist to becoming an academic bible critic was welcome. It is, in fact, impossible to be a biblical literacist if one actually knows how its texts have been transmitted. As I am fond of saying, "the Bible" you read actually dates to the time of its copyright. The best remedy for narrow-minded Christian--or Jewish or Islamic--fundamentalism is honest study of the textual bases of the faith. Except for the author's treatment of some particular pericopes in light of what kinds of changes tend to happen to a text transmitted from one scribe to another, I found little new in this book--and these, of course, were more or less well-argued opinions. Still, as a short book intended for the general reading public, Jesus Misquoted's popularity is deserved and heartening.

  26. 5 out of 5

    David Withun

    -

  27. 4 out of 5

    Literary Chic

    You had me at "reformed fundamentalist author." Very interesting and the author was fascinating. Definitely read the prologue if you get to this book. The author's education arc adds a lot to the books perspective. Ultimately if you're a believer, this probably won't change your mind. If you find yourself firmly on the fence or a dyed in the wool atheist, you'll find great information. You had me at "reformed fundamentalist author." Very interesting and the author was fascinating. Definitely read the prologue if you get to this book. The author's education arc adds a lot to the books perspective. Ultimately if you're a believer, this probably won't change your mind. If you find yourself firmly on the fence or a dyed in the wool atheist, you'll find great information.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jamie Smith

    “Scholars typically differentiate today between changes that appear to have been made accidentally through scribal mistakes and those made intentionally, through some forethought. The scriptures do provide a foundation for the faith, but it is not the books themselves that ultimately matter (since they have, after all, been changed over time), but the interpretation of these books, as found in the apostolic tradition handed down through the (Catholic) church.” I had naively assumed that differenc “Scholars typically differentiate today between changes that appear to have been made accidentally through scribal mistakes and those made intentionally, through some forethought. The scriptures do provide a foundation for the faith, but it is not the books themselves that ultimately matter (since they have, after all, been changed over time), but the interpretation of these books, as found in the apostolic tradition handed down through the (Catholic) church.” I had naively assumed that differences in biblical translations were primarily due to different interpretations of the same original texts, but the whole issue of “original” is so confused that we cannot be sure what the authors originally said or meant. For fifteen hundred years the texts were copied by hand, and each new copy added new errors, which were then included in later copies which added errors of their own, an accumulating cascade of changes. “What we have are copies made later—much later. In most instances, they are copies made many centuries later. And these copies all differ from one another, in many thousands of places.” There are many intentional additions, changes, and deletions. As Bart Ehrman says, “were they added by scribes who wanted them in or deleted by scribes who wanted them out?” Some were included in an attempt to harmonize the different books, some to try to clarify difficult passages, and some to support specific interpretations in the controversies that divided early Christianity. For instance, the earliest texts showed considerable equality between men and women, with women holding important positions in the church, one of whom was called a bishop. As misogyny grew in society so it also grew in Christianity, and got added to the Bible. The famous passage from 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, where women are commanded to keep silent in church was a later addition, not found in any of the earliest texts. There were also many other texts, and different interpretations of the current texts, which if they had made their way into the canon would have made Christianity a very different religion. Ehrman has written a book on this specific subject, Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew. It took several centuries for the Church to gain enough centralized authority to establish an accepted set of books to be included in the Bible, and even today, while Catholics and Protestants use the same 27 books of the New Testament, the Catholic Old Testament adds an additional set of books called the Apocrypha. After so much time, and so many revisions, it is impossible to guess what was originally written and how it was intended to be understood. “At last count, more than fifty-seven hundred Greek manuscripts have been discovered and catalogued….There are more variations among our manuscripts than there are words in the New Testament.” And yet, this has not stopped churches and prophets from claiming that theirs is the One True meaning, and they usually preface their exhortations by shouting, “If you just read your Bible, you can see it means what I say it means!” Protestantism has always maintained that people should read the Bible themselves, which has led to myriad sects and violent splits over what are, in effect, mere opinions, none of which can be independently verified. At the Last Supper, when Jesus gave the bread and wine to his disciples, what he meant was ambiguous: did he mean the literal transfiguration into body and blood (Catholic); or some sort of mystical transformation short of literal body and blood (Lutheranism); or a symbolic gesture of fellowship with no miraculous presence (Calvinism). Any of these reading is reasonable, but at one time holding the wrong one could get you burned at the stake. All of this brings us to the wacky world of biblical literalism. The – ahem – Holy Grail of translations for the fundamentalists is of course the King James Version, in both its original and New King James Version. The King James is one of the great works of English literature, with its dignified and sonorous prose, with memorable passages such as Luke 2:8-9: “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.” It is also, from a scholarly perspective, one of the worst translations of its era. “The King James was not given by God but was a translation by a group of scholars in the early seventeenth century who based their rendition on a faulty Greek text.” Many of the passages were lifted from William Tyndale’s earlier translation (for which he was burned at the stake, because Henry VIII was still a good Catholic at that time). It also relied on a single Greek translation even though there were dozens of others available at the time, and in places where the Greek text was missing they used an available Latin text, and thus parts of it were a translation of a translation. Nevertheless, for fundamentalists, it is more important to believe than to understand, and the KJV has been anointed as the True version, which of course does not stop anyone and everyone from interpreting it however the spirit moves them. So what are we to make of all this? In the end, Ehrman, who was once a fundamentalist believer who fully accepted the idea of biblical literalism, is left with the idea that the the Bible is in fact a human book, written by humans with their own passions, opinions, and prejudices. For the only reason (I came to think) for God to inspire the Bible would be so that his people would have his actual words; but if he really wanted people to have his actual words, surely he would have miraculously preserved those words, just as he had miraculously inspired them in the first place….Given the circumstance that he didn’t preserve the words, the conclusion seemed inescapable to me that he hadn’t gone to the trouble of inspiring them. Believers will always believe, and skeptics will always doubt, but science and scholarship are firmly on the side of the doubters. For some their faith makes them better people, more generous, tolerant, and caring, and that is to be commended, but for too many churches and far too many believers, their faith pushes them toward hatred, intolerance, and dismissal of the suffering of others. As the Nazarene may or may not have said, "Jesus wept." (John 11:35)

  29. 4 out of 5

    Rickey

    I read this after reading Jesus, Interrupted, also by Bart D. Ehrman. This book is slightly more technical than the other, and I would recommend reading Jesus, Interrupted first, then this one. Ehrman begins this book by describing how he was raised as a Christian and was so fascinated by the Bible that he began intently studying it, and I do mean intently. He was so interested in it that he learned Greek, Latin, and some of the ancient languages in order to translate the ancient manuscripts him I read this after reading Jesus, Interrupted, also by Bart D. Ehrman. This book is slightly more technical than the other, and I would recommend reading Jesus, Interrupted first, then this one. Ehrman begins this book by describing how he was raised as a Christian and was so fascinated by the Bible that he began intently studying it, and I do mean intently. He was so interested in it that he learned Greek, Latin, and some of the ancient languages in order to translate the ancient manuscripts himself rather than just relying on others to tell him what they say. In my opinion this book and Jesus, Interrupted should both be required reading for anyone who reads the Bible. Why would you not be interested in how this book came to be what it is today? Ehrman describes the many ways that the Bible has been changed in the process of copying. After being hand copied for more than 1500 years, wouldn’t you expect that there would be variations? In the first 200 years, these manuscripts weren’t even copied by professional scribes. Also, in the early years of Christianity, the literacy rates were very low, and a person might be considered literate if they could just write their name. At one place in the book he describes how a person is copying a manuscript who can’t really read and is simply copying it symbol by symbol, not able to even read it! Ehrman goes over many of the reasons that these variations probably occurred in the Bible – from simple errors to deliberate changes and outright forgery, and the reasons for many of these changes. He also writes about some of the early Christian religions and the conflicts they had establishing their doctrines - for example, whether Jesus was mortal or divine, if Jesus was born of a virgin, the concept of the Trinity, and even if there was one God or many. Some believed there was a god of the Old Testament and a different god of the New Testament. They believed that the Old Testament god was wrathful and vengeful, and the New Testament god was kind and benevolent. Many of us aren’t aware that the early Christian churches didn’t all agree on this, and what we have today is the doctrine that persevered over the others. A statement he made that stands out in my mind is that there are more variants in the Bible than there are words in the New Testament. I also remember him stating that there are more than 30,000 variants. A recommended read for those who are able to be open-minded about a book considered sacred and inerrant by many.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Edward

    While it doesn't preach an anti-religious message, Misquoting Jesus surely deserves a place alongside The God Delusion and other more well-known works of the new atheism movement. It is certainly devastating to any sort of literal or fundamentalist interpretation of the bible. I find it difficult to imagine that any thinking person who holds such an interpretation could read this and not be forced to reflect and question seriously the foundation of their faith. The ideas presented are by no mean While it doesn't preach an anti-religious message, Misquoting Jesus surely deserves a place alongside The God Delusion and other more well-known works of the new atheism movement. It is certainly devastating to any sort of literal or fundamentalist interpretation of the bible. I find it difficult to imagine that any thinking person who holds such an interpretation could read this and not be forced to reflect and question seriously the foundation of their faith. The ideas presented are by no means groundbreaking, but they are packaged here for an intended audience of believers who have never seriously considered (or have been misinformed about) the creation and propagation of their holy text. Many of the key ideas are repeated, and that's a potential criticism of this book. I feel however that the ideas bear repeating, especially with respect to the target audience, who would find them very troubling, and may be inclined to conveniently disbelieve or dismiss them if not forced repeatedly to confront them.

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