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Misquoting Jesus : The Story Behind Who Changed The Bible and Why Paperback – 2005
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The popular perception of the Bible as a divinely perfect book receives scant support from Ehrman, who sees in Holy Writ ample evidence of human fallibility and ecclesiastical politics. Though himself schooled in evangelical literalism, Ehrman has come to regard his earlier faith in the inerrant inspiration of the Bible as misguided, given that the original texts have disappeared and that the extant texts available do not agree with one another. Most of the textual discrepancies, Ehrman acknowledges, matter little, but some do profoundly affect religious doctrine. To assess how ignorant or theologically manipulative scribes may have changed the biblical text, modern scholars have developed procedures for comparing diverging texts. And in language accessible to nonspecialists, Ehrman explains these procedures and their results. He further explains why textual criticism has frequently sparked intense controversy, especially among scripture-alone Protestants. In discounting not only the authenticity of existing manuscripts but also the inspiration of the original writers, Ehrman will deeply divide his readers. Although he addresses a popular audience, he undercuts the very religious attitudes that have made the Bible a popular book. Still, this is a useful overview for biblical history collections. Bryce Christensen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“Offers a fascinating look into the field of textual criticism and evidence that Scriptures have been altered.” (Charleston Post & Courier)
“Whichever side you sit on regarding Biblical inerrancy, this is a rewarding read.” (Dallas Morning News)
“One of the unlikeliest bestsellers of the year.” (Washington Post)
“Misquoting Jesus is a godsend.” (Philadelphia Inquirer) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
I do think Ehrman paints a worse picture than what is truly the case. In reading the book, it seems like he is trying to build the case that the Bible can't be trusted at all. I fear that will be the conclusion many of his readers will reach after reading the book. I don't think Ehrman is trying to shatter anyone's faith, but I'm afraid that will be the result for at least a few.
There is no doubt in my eyes that much of what he writes is factual. For instance there are thousands of textural variants and some of those variants were intentional intentional. However, I don't believe the biblical text should be disregarded as a complete fabrication either. Even though there are many variants, there are few significant ones, and I believe Ehrman has highlighted all the significant ones that I know about it.
I also believe those who turn to the biblical text as the authority for their faith need to face some obvious facts. First of all, the way in which the New Testament was canonized leaves a lot of room for human error. It is pretty far from miraculous. There is merit in recognizing the fact that we can all be wrong. This shouldn't lead us to the conclusion that seeking God's will is a futile task. I think God wants us to seek him and I still maintain the biblical text is the most reliable way of learning about God and Jesus.
I found it disturbing that when he finished his research he chose to become an agnostic. I was aware without being told that the Bible text was subject to all these things, but have not lost faith in its content because of that.
The best part of this book to me, as a result, ended up being some of the preface and ending comments about Ehrman's personal views. It has been mentioned that this seems to take away the supposed objectivity, but it should be obvious that absolutely no one is completely objective, not even the scholars that take the opposing view and claim all of the scribal errors and contradictions somehow increase their faith (or simply deny there are any errors or contradictions, which is either a state of denial or flagrant dishonesty). Ehrman's view makes more objective sense, and if one reads his comments carefully, will realize he started from the view opposed to his current one, but was convinced by the evidence to change his mind about the nature of scripture.
If you are only mildly interested, or just want a lightweight overview of Ehrman's arguments or textual criticism, this is a great book to
start with. It should be noted that with any study of textual criticism, one will come to the understanding that we today probably have about as close an approximation of the early text as we can hope for. However, if one studies other aspects, such as the formation of canon and the nature of what is written itself (origins, accuracy, contradictions within and between books), which requires other types of study (see other books noted above), one can easily come to the same conclusions as Bart Ehrman. It was not from the concepts of textual errors of a scribal nature alone that his views developed. Scribal errors only scratch the surface.