Writing in the Name of God—Why the Bible's Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are
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The books of the New Testament are generally considered to be accounts of Jesus of Nazareth’s life, as reported by members of his inner circle. However, scholars have known for centuries that not all the books in the New Testament are authentic—a loaded truth that remains largely unknown to the general public. Most of the apostles were illiterate and could not write. Books attributed to John, Peter, Paul and others were possibly (and in some cases, most likely) penned not by those men but by later writers looking to promote their own agendas. But if the Gospels weren’t written by Jesus’ inner circle, what does that say about the authority of the Bible?
According to religious scholar Bart D. Ehrman, many of the biblical authors lied about their identities in order to deceive their readers into thinking that they were disciples of Jesus. The bestselling author of Misquoting Jesus and Jesus, Interrupted, Ehrman is known for his provocative claims and impeccable scholarship. Now, in Forged, he reveals the truth about the authenticity of authorship of the Bible. Drawing from new research, he identifies a number texts forged in the name of Jesus’ disciples.
A popular myth holds that “writing in the name of another” was an accepted and common practice in antiquity. Not so, argues Ehrman. Forgery was both a rampant practice and roundly condemned. Forgery battles raged through the Roman Empire, where the deception was as scandalous as it is now. The climate was also ripe for forgery. Documents were copied by hand and circulated freely with little or no authorial control—a practice that bred political, historical and religious uncertainty. Without the assistance of modern forensic tools, forgeries were often difficult to identify.
In the second and fourth centuries, Christian scholars disputed a number of the books of the New Testament. The most famous is the Book of Revelation, a work attributed to Jesus’ disciple John. In the third century, a Christian scholar named Dionysius maintained that the writing style was so different from the Gospel of John that the two works could not have been written by the same person. It is an argument that modern scholars find compelling.
Because Christian texts were not sold, forgers were usually motivated by religious or personal conviction. A person with no status in the community had little hope of having his text about the apocalypse taken seriously. “[Y]ou could not very well sign your own name to the book. If you wanted someone to read it, you called yourself Peter. Or Thomas. Or James,” explains Ehrman. “In other words, you lied about who you really were.”
Incisive and thought provoking, Forged reveals why we have the Bible we read today.
Hardcover Book : 320 pages
Publisher: Harper Collins Pub., Inc. ( March 22, 2011 )
Item #: 13-368289
Product Dimensions: 6.0 x 9.0 x 0.72inches
Product Weight: 17.0 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
This was a good book. For those who are outside academia and do not know the history and origination of the writing that were picked to become the gospels, this is a great resource.
Erhman does not try and destroy Christianity. All he does is accurately point out the fact that these writings were put down decades after the supposed 'authors' died and that people used their names to get non-original writings into the gospels to enact changes and influence policy.
For those aware of these facts and biblical history...this will be retreading former ground.
As a christian who is now coming to the same conclusions as the author has about nearly all the books in the bible, I have too questioned both their authenticities and what the political and historical agenda was behind these books. I have found this book very revealing and useful in my own spiritual research into the matter. As the author points out in this book, the bible is just another book like any other book that was obviouly distorted by humans with political, social, and racial motivations. Some of the information in this book I had heard before as a christian; other sections were totally eye-opening. To those who are obviously set in their fanatical ways, this book will be heretical to them, and as a christian, I am sad for them. For those who wish to be more open minded and are truly searching for the truth and the real message of Jesus, this book is a must have for their libraries.
I just read Jesus Interupted by the same author. He provides good material - but when he infers (and later denies) that Christianity was responsible for the Halocaust he reveals his anti christian leaning. He does so throughout the book. Besides that he still holds the view that Jesus actually existed. The entire Jesus phenomenon does not make sense if there was such a person. It does if Jesus is a myth. Ol Bart just doesn't get it. So basically he wants to say their was a Jesus and that Christianity is responsible for many of our woes. Instead he should know that there was no Jesus and that Christianity, though based on myth, has done far more good than harm. Shame on you Bart. You 'know much 'bout history."
The oldest book of the new testament books was written about 80 to 100 after the death of Christ, so none of the old testament came directly from his "inner circle." Scholars have known this for years, so it sounds like Erhman is covering old ground and maybe not correctly. The bible started out as a collection of writings from numberous sources. In about the 4th century, both the Jewish faith leaders and Christian faith leaders chose which of these writings would go in their "bibles" and in what order. Oddly enough, the Jewish old testament and the Christian old testament contain most of the same material. Many of the writings that were available left out, so what we know as the bible is simply a collection of stories a group of well meaning Scholars put together into one book. Like a history book, much of these writings depends on the viewpoint of the author and what they thought happened, but not so much on what really happened.
Scholarship is scholarship. In the highest levels of academia for scriptural analysis, which include doctoral programs in Biblical Studies and not just divinity/theology, it's accepted as a matter of course that the Bible was not written by those whose names are on it. It's also taken for granted that the story contradicts throughout its pages, in too many places to count, meaning its writing couldn't have been directed by a single omniscient entity. I'll look forward to reading more of the scholarship behind these discoveries, which the ancient critics knew, but people who prefer mere "faith" have always overlooked.
And by the way, Misha, if you think the Bible is what is responsible for western freedom/civilization, medical/technological developments, and inventions, then you need to spend lots of money at this site and read everything you can. Rather, it's all the people like Mr. Ehrman throughout the centuries who have chosen NOT to believe what the Bible says whom we owe all the best parts of our civilization to. Before them and the Renaissance, our Bible-led culture was a lot like that of the Taliban.