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Forgery and Counterforgery: The Use of Literary Deceit in Early Christian Polemics 1st Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0199928033
ISBN-10: 0199928037
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Editorial Reviews

Review


"This is a significant study in English of a theme not normally explored by scholars, This book is vintage Ehrman: forthright and coherent, based on thorough research and enviably wide reading replete with rich footnoting."--The Expository Times


"[An] engrossing and learned analysis of early Christian literature, both within and beyond the covers of the Bible...A text that will have a material effect on the future of a faith that is currently experiencing one of its most interesting and fruitful phases of transformation. Few books have so effectively challenged the basis of scriptural authority in Christianity." --London Review of Books


"Impressive and wide-ranging." --Marginalia


"This comprehensive study is a valuable addition to the field of scriptural literary criticism and will be very useful to researchers and lay readers in that field. It is both an insightful study of the use and usefulness of forgeries in polemics during the first four centuries of Christianity, and a near encyclopedic survey of the forged texts themselves." -- Library Journal


"The book is excellent. It will make an enormous impact on the field of New Testament studies and also studies of pseudepigraphy in the ancient world. ... The book will make a huge contribution to the field. There are comparable books in German, but this one goes beyond them all. And it will be the only thing of its kind in English."
--Dale B. Martin, Professor of Religious Studies at Yale University


"The book tackles an important subject--the nature of ancient Christian pseudepigraphy--and makes a significant contribution to it.... The author's contribution lies in updating Speyer's thesis that pseudepigraphy was usually, on the contrary, an attempt to deceive, and in establishing this thesis in a comprehensive English-language monograph. The greatest strength of the book is its comprehensiveness."
--Joel Marcus, Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins at Duke Divinity School


"Examining over fifty examples of early Christian forgery and their polemical contexts, Ehrman uncovers the varied motives that prompted ancient Christian authors intentionally to deceive their readers. Whether these authors forged their works to support or critique the Apostle Paul, to oppose or celebrate "the flesh", to promote their own views of doctrine and church leadership, or to defend Christianity against hostile critics, the sheer magnitude of early Christian forgery startles the modern reader. Ehrman demolishes the claim that forgery was an acceptable literary practice in Greco-Roman antiquity, as well as scholars' attempts to "explain away" its prevalence in early Christianity. Ehrman's remarkable and comprehensive account of a misunderstood practice is unparalleled in English-language scholarship."--Elizabeth A. Clark, John Carlisle Kilgo Professor of Religion and Professor of History, Duke University


"With Forgery and Counter-forgery, Bart Ehrman has decisively undermined the view that the early Christian pseudepigraphic writings are something other than forgeries. These works, however well-intentioned, were, quite simply, "bastards" and were viewed as such whenever their false authorial claims were discovered. Based in flawed or faulty scholarship, modern attempts to excuse the New Testament forgeries are therefore misplaced, revealing the longings of contemporary readers for secure canonical authorities capable of defending their own points of view. This deeply engaging, carefully documented and thought-provoking exposé of ancient forgery is required reading for anyone interested in understanding how, and why, so many Christian writers sought to pass off their works as the products of named authorities when they so obviously were not. Thoroughly convincing."--Jennifer Knust, Boston University


"The quality is very high; it is very thorough and well-researched. ... Ehrman has produced a learned and engaging survey of early Christian controversial literature from the vantage point of authorial identity and rhetorical deceit, asking why Christians lied about themselves when writing polemical works and why scholars are so resistant to acknowledging their forgeries. ... There is no other major scholarly study in English that tackles this subject with such thoroughness, and its usefulness to students of early Christian literature will be undeniable. ... There is no comparable work in English on forgery. ... I also think general readers will pick it up and find it fascinating. ... The prose is solid, the arguments are clear and effective, and the significance of this study is undeniable."
--Andrew Jacobs, Associate Professor and Chair of Religious Studies at Scripps College


About the Author


Bart D. Ehrman is the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Widely recognized as one of the world's leading authorities on the New Testament and early Christianity, he has lectured at major universities throughout North America and has been featured on CNN, BBC, the History Channel, National Geographic, the Discovery Channel, A&E, major PBS stations, and the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. He is the author of the New York Times best-selling book Misquoting Jesus.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 624 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (December 14, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199928037
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199928033
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 2 x 6.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #799,486 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This work should not be confused with "Forged: Writing in the Name of God." Unlike "Forged," "Forgery and Counterforgery" is a scholarly, academic, and advanced look at the practice of forgery in the NT and early Christian literature. The style is very different than Ehrman's NY Time's bestsellers (Forged: Writing in the Name of God; Misquoting Jesus; God's Problem; Jesus, Interrupted). It assumes an advanced knowledge of New Testament scholarship and issues. It's extremely comphrensive and makes a convincing case for calling falsely attributed/pseudepigraphic books in the NT and early Christian literature "forgery," looks at why certain NT and early Christian works are considered forged, and the broader phenomenon in Greek and Roman world. Strong engagement with scholarship with extensive footnotes. Yet it is very readable. Advances scholarly conversation regarding the practice of forgery in an original way. It is well-argued and detailed (over 600 pages). If you are looking for an introductory treatment look at his trade book "Forged: Writing in the Name of God."

Forged: Writing in the Name of God--Why the Bible's Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Bart Ehrman has written a number of interesting books on the New Testament and early Christianity. I've found these books to be enlightening even if I don't always agree with his conclusions. Those of Ehrman's books that I have read to his point have been aimed at the average reader -- successfully aimed, because they have sold very well and made Ehrman perhaps the best-known writer on these topics. This book summarizes his scholarly research on a topic that he has also discussed at length in his popular books: The New Testament books that claim to be written by someone other than their actual authors (in this book he expands the discussion to include other early Christian writings in addition to those that appear in the New Testament). Ehrman has been forthright in labeling these books forgeries because he argues -- correctly, I think -- that the authors were trying to deceive their readers by claiming to be the Apostle Paul, the Apostle Peter, or another revered person. Other scholars have been reluctant to use the word "forgery" for these documents, but I think Ehrman is justified in doing so.

This book is aimed at a scholarly audience, so I assume that Ehrman expects most readers to be academics or graduate students. Although the result is a more densely written book, I didn't find it to be any more difficult to understand than his popular books. Ehrman notes that he was talked out of reproducing quotes in the documents' original languages. Had he done so, he would have lost at least this reader! Ehrman's arguments make for interesting reading and I found them to be convincing. I particularly profited by his discussion of the reasons for the "I/we" passages in Acts.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a tough read - unlike the many other Ehrman books in my library. I'm only part way into it but it seems a much more intensive knowledge of ancient writing and authors would be beneficial to the reader. The unusual names alone is sufficient to slow you down considerably. I'll keep plugging along and hope it becomes worthwhile. In some ways it reminds me of the difficulty I had with reading The Quest of the Historical Jusus by Albert Schweitzer - also a tough read. I admire Dr. Ehrman's work and approach to understanding the Bible and Christianity.
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I like the book, but disappointed in the format via Audible.com.

I do not know the credentials of the reader, but his pronunciation seemed often a bit strange, especially for names of ancient writers, and certainly different from the way Ehrman pronounces their names. His timing, pacing, and interpretation are also a bit lacking, though arguably accurate in some instances (e.g. reading 2 Peter as "two Peter" rather than "second Peter," the latter more typical in the reading of Christian literature.).

I'll not insult you by commenting on the book as a format, and I'll assume that you are similarly familiar with audio books on CDs, but if you are not familiar with audio books as ".aa" files, then you might benefit from the following.

You will likely receive your audio book in one or more 6-hour audio files, perhaps separated by chapters, and amenable to starting at a chapter, but playing all the way to the end.

If you wish to listen to a particular chapter, and not go on to the following chapters, you will need to purchase the audio on CDs or use what I assume to be an illegal procedure to deconstruct the ".aa" files into smaller units, such as an mp3 file for each chapter. Costly and labor intensive even if it were legal, which I suspect is not.

Such limited listening options led me to terminate my brief venture with Audible.com.

Incidentally, I confirmed the aforementioned limitation with an Audible.com representative, after which they realized that they had little argument for my continuing my subscription.

Otherwise, for many, it appears to be a desirable service.
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