115 of 127 people found the following review helpful
Interesting early textual history; not for everyone,
This review is from: The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture: The Effect of Early Christological Controversies on the Text of the New Testament (Paperback)
Ehrman goes on a investigative journey into the heart of the biblical texts to unearth evidence of quite extensive manipulation of the original text of the New Testament. Although much of this work is very detailed argumentation and goes far beyond the textual knowledge of the typical layperson it remains accessible. It's a compelling account of the textual history.
The finest chapter is that which deals with the initial environment of Christianity, the diversity of faiths present, and the struggle over an emerging orthodoxy not solidified until the fourth century. Explicating this, Ehrman provides an informative account of a particular portion of the early history of the church. He reviews the various church fathers, their writings, and their polemical attacks against their opponents. It should come as no surprise that the evidence of who these opponents actually were does not agree with the orthodox interpretation of them as sensual, deviant deceivers and idolaters. In many cases, there were honest differences of opinion and each group sought its own way of accommodating the writings of the new church and the Old Testament.
Each succeeding chapter deals with a different controversy. The lengthiest discussion is related to orthodox changes made to scripture regarding whether Jesus was the adopted Son of God, a very righteous man or the pre-existent image of God. A straight reading of the earliest gospel of Mark leads to the adoptionist conclusion. Especially troublesome was John's baptism of Jesus and the subsequent arrival of the spirit of God in bodily form and God's pronouncement of Jesus' son-ship. Besides this appearing in all three synoptic gospels, with the addition of Matthew's clever manipulation to ensure proper interpretation of the event, there are many instances where the mention of Jesus' earthly father Joseph has been changed to align with more orthodox beliefs. Ehrman provides an extensive discussion and defense of his conclusion that Luke's baptism pericope originally had the voice of God state "today I have begotten you", not simply "whom I have begotten" as currently appears in all bibles.
The remaining chapters deal with separationist, docetic, and patripassianist heresies. Separationists believe that Jesus and the Christ were separate beings, docetists that Jesus lacked a material body, and patripassianists that Jesus was the Father God Himself who had suffered, died, and risen. All are very interesting.
This may not be a good book for a layperson, unless you are highly interested in the textual history of the New Testament. For some, this may be too much parsing, and textual analysis. But, if you can get through it, it is extremely helpful and interesting knowledge.
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Initial post: Jan 16, 2013 12:05:41 PM PST
D. CURRY says:
Hello! I just read a review you did ages ago on a book and have a question for you. Now that we have so many translation tools available, have you ever thought about revisiting Ehrman's work on "The Orthodox Corruption of ..." ?
Your reviews are well written. Thank you for taking the time to share. It certainly helps me decide what to spend time with or ignore. :)
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