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Who Chose the Gospels?: Probing the Great Gospel Conspiracy

4.5 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0199551231
ISBN-10: 0199551235
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Editorial Reviews


To anyone rightly confused by what they read in some papers and often see on television, Prof. Hill's book will be a revealing, and perhaps even reassuring, read. The Irish Catholic A magnificent, well-written book... No Christian worker should be without this book! Evangelicals Now A highly successful and informative treatment. Expository Times Compelling book...it is accessible and lively...this is a valuable book that is already a bargain at full price. Church of England Newspaper

About the Author

C. E. Hill is Professor of New Testament at the Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando Florida.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 295 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (September 30, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199551235
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199551231
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 0.9 x 5.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,692,065 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By James J. Cassidy on December 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover
In this recent volume, Dr. Hill seeks to finally set the record straight concerning certain urban myths about the recognition of the four canonical Gospels by the church, and those Gospels' putative competitors. In fact, Hill does more than set the record straight. He exposes the lies, hyperbole, and exaggerations of contemporary popular theories of the formulation of the canon of the New Testament. If you have ever been disturbed by anyone from Dan Brown to Bart Ehrman and their outrageous claims about (against?) the Bible, then this book is for you.

In chapter 1, Dr. Hill addresses the Ehrman argument that there was no orthodoxy before the 4th century. It was not until a majority of bishops got together, Ehrman argues, who were able to squeeze out a victory against the opposing side that there was anything "orthodox." Before that point, you only had equally valid competing views - and Gospels. But after the orthodox victory, the winners silenced the minority and destroyed their books. However, Hill cites numerous evidence from the excavation site in Egypt (the home of early Christian heterodoxy, orthodoxy being in the minority) called Oxyrhynchus (the place of a massive garbage heap) where there have been over 500,000 bits and pieces of manuscripts, the majority of which are from three of the four Gospels and date to the second century. Hill finds it interesting - and odd - that "orthodox" manuscripts would be found in a garbage dump if it were actually the orthodox groups that were covering up the "heterodox" documents in some grand conspiracy (p. 23). Kinda puts the kibosh on the Dan Brown conspiracy theories of the sneering, mean, ignorant Bishops who hid truth for the sake of building up their own power and influence!

Chapter 2 is nothing less than brilliant.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is a very interesting defense of the fourfold Gospel of the early Church. It is not too difficult for the non-specialist to follow, however it it not light reading by any means, especially if one is reading the endnotes where he engages the breadth of scholarship more fully. However, I would quibble with his annoying habit of failing to name some of the scholars whom he is critizing at points - page 267 footnote 23 "I will refrain from naming names at this point, but the scholars know who they are!" is not the only point where he fails to identify the scholar(s) he is talking about. Yet, Hill has certainly challenged a number of assumptions that I have been working with concerning the circulation of various gospels in the early church. Moreover, his presentation strikes me as balanced and fair in that his scholarship does not come accross as overly partisan, for example I was not surprized to see him criticize Bart Ehrman (a former believer now an avowed agnostic/atheist), but I was at first surprized to see him criticize Lee Martin McDonald (whom I take to be a baptist evangelical, certainly on the conservative side of the scholarly spectrum). One of the more memorable, and I think important questions which Hill asks is in connection with the "proto-orthodox ... suppression of confiscated heretical treatises." "But where does one take confiscated heretical treatises when one sets out to destroy them? Probably to the rubbish heaps!" Following on this questionable assumption, he argues that "Egyptian rubbish heaps have so far revealed a strange and embarassing preponderance of proto-orthodox as opposed to proto-heretical materials." (23) Yet, can one turn his argument around?Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
By odd coincidence, I picked up "Forged" by Ehrman and "Who Chose the Gospels" on the same day, and ended up reading them back to back.

Wow. What a contrast. Ehrman makes errors in facts, wildly overstates his case, refuses to acknowledge alternative arguments, and constantly makes snide comments about Christians. His book was the single worst book I have ever read in my life from someone who is supposed to be a scholar.

It was such a relief to to turn to Hill's book. Hill is always fair. He always mentions the opposing arguments. And he is blissfully logical in comparison to Ehrman.

Hill also rightly corrects Pagels' false claim about Irenaeus ordering books destroyed. (p 59) and points out how much impact Gnostic and other false gospels had on early Christian writings. That is: none. Unless you count the condemnations.

But most ignored them utterly. Clement, for example expressed "complete lack of interest in these gospels" (p 72) and never mentioned one of them. Even though "some today like to promote as the main popular rivals: (p 72) of the Gospels themselves, where is the evidence? \

Furthermore, the gloomy ravings of the anti-woman, anti-flesh Gnostics are about as interesting and appealing as mud.

It was also such a contrast to have Hill repeat. which many others have done, what a difference in the number of actual gospel fragments we have found in comparison to the number of Gnostic writings dating to the second century and later. The canonical Gospels still outnumber non-canonical ones by about three to one" (p 21),

I also have to comment on his chapter titles because they are humorous and show the style of Hill's writings. One chapter is titled "The Search for an Arch-Conspirator".
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