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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.
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Top customer reviews
The book is well referenced, but it does feel like he pushes his premises to the limit of acceptability. An example in point is he appears dismissive of the possibility of scribes writing at the behest of the Apostles/disciples, or the possibility of schools of thought and traditions in the name of the Apostle. Sometimes it does feel like he pushes his premises to the limit of acceptability.. Otherwise he raises interesting and thought provoking questions with reasonable resolutions. Most of the examples are interesting and thought provoking and his reasoning is carefully crafted and tied together in a thoughtful, yet determined point of view.
Ehrman's preface started me off on the right foot. I liked where he was coming from. And he is very easy to read. I will be buying more of his books. I will look for other subject matter - he covered this one very well!!!
The problem is that not all books of the New Testament are "forged." Ehrman doesn't claim they are. Some are actually written by Paul. Others were originally anonymous and later attributed to other authors (Hebrews, for example, was long believed to be written by Paul, but most scholars agree that is not the case; the gospels, likewise, were anonymous and only later attributed to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, as Ehrman mentions here and explains in more detail in earlier books). It would be wrong to refer to those books as "forged," because the authors did not claim to be someone they were not.
Further, Ehrman spends a lot of time and ink on forgeries that are not a part of the New Testament canon. I do not begrudge him the right to examine those works, and it is, in fact, rather fascinating. But they are not the New Testament canon, and in light of the subtitle of the book, I wasn't expecting Ehrman to spend as much time as he did exploring them.
"Forged: Writing in the Name of God; Why the Bible's authors are not who we think they are" is not entirely about forgeries and not entirely about the Bible's authors.
I recommend the book with that caveat.
Most recent customer reviews
Full of lies and distortions. A big myth perpetrated by another God hater.