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Forged: Writing in the Name of God--Why the Bible's Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are Hardcover – March 22, 2011
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From Publishers Weekly
The evocative title tells it all and hints at the tone of sensationalism that pervades this book. Those familiar with the earlier work of Ehrman, a distinguished professor of religious studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and author of more than 20 books including Misquoting Jesus, will not be surprised at the content of this one. Written in a manner accessible to nonspecialists, Ehrman argues that many books of the New Testament are not simply written by people other than the ones to whom they are attributed, but that they are deliberate forgeries. The word itself connotes scandal and crime, and it appears on nearly every page. Indeed, this book takes on an idea widely accepted by biblical scholars: that writing in someone else's name was common practice and perfectly okay in ancient times. Ehrman argues that it was not even then considered acceptable—hence, a forgery. While many readers may wish for more evidence of the charge, Ehrman's introduction to the arguments and debates among different religious communities during the first few centuries and among the early Christians themselves, though not the book's main point, is especially valuable. (Apr.)
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From the Back Cover
It is often said, even by critical scholars whoshould know better, that “writing in the nameof another” was widely accepted in antiquity.But New York Times bestselling author Bart D.Ehrman dares to call it what it was: literaryforgery, a practice that was as scandalous then as itis today. In Forged, Ehrman’s fresh and originalresearch takes readers back to the ancient world,where forgeries were used as weapons by unknownauthors to fend off attacks to their faith andestablish their church. So, if many of the books inthe Bible were not in fact written by Jesus’s innercircle—but by writers living decades later, withdiffering agendas in rival communities—whatdoes that do to the authority of Scripture?
Ehrman investigates ancient sources to:
- Reveal which New Testament books wereoutright forgeries.
- Explain how widely forgery was practiced byearly Christian writers—and how strongly it wascondemned in the ancient world as fraudulentand illicit.
- Expose the deception in the history of theChristian religion.
Ehrman’s fascinating story of fraud and deceit isessential reading for anyone interested in the truthabout the Bible and the dubious origins ofChristianity’s sacred texts.
Top customer reviews
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Ehrman is writing for the lay reader, although for those interested, he does provide notes referencing the scholarship used to support - and in some instances, challenge - his inferences. This is certainly a strength of the book and a clear indication that Ehrman asks readers to approach the topic with an open mind. What I found more interesting than the forgeries themselves was his exploration of why early Christian authors would intentionally seek to mislead readers. His answer points to the rich and complicated history of the early Church and the many competing factions and interpretations among early believers of what it means to be a "Christian" and what someone must believe (and/or do) to claim membership.
I give it four stars because inspite of his incisive analysis, Erhman gets a little repetitive in his writing, particularly in the concluding chapters. Some tighter editing would have addressed this. That being said, the repetition doesn't get in the way of the larger position Ehrman takes. It really makes for some interesting reading.