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Clif's Book World

Adventures from reading books captured within short reviews.

Forged: Writing in the Name of God - Bart D. Ehrman The material covered isn't new to anyone familiar with critical biblical scholarship.
However, Ehrman is different because of the following:

1. He's willing to call it forgery, lying and deceit (where appropriate).
2. He says those who use milder adjectives are not supported by the evidence.
3. He used to believe the Bible was true without error.
4. He is now writing about the untruths and errors contained in the Bible.
5. His writing style is interesting and clear.
6. He has the academic credentials to back up his writing.

I suspect that his academic colleagues are jealous because Ehrman is getting rich selling books to the popular audience, while the rest of them are working with the same material but within the obscurity of the academic world.

Ehrman criticizes many scholars, but I found of special interest his criticism of the book titled The Five Gospels published by the Jesus Seminar because it, "contains at least one statement that scholars would call a 'howler'." He's referring to their statement that plagiarism was not known in Biblical times. Ehrman says that's simply not true, and he proceeds to sight various examples from that era of writers complaining of the practice.

Some personal reflections:

It’s interesting to recall that the Protestants thought they were getting away from the all too human origins of traditions developed by the Catholic Church when they insisted on “solo scriptura” (by scripture alone). The assumption behind that is that the early Christian church had it right, directly from the Jesus, the Holy Spirit and God. Their thinking was that the scriptures were divinely inspired and free of human taint. Unfortunately, modern scholarship has pulled back the veil on those early times and revealed plenty of human shortcomings involved in the development of the New Testament scriptures. (The same can be said for the Old Testament (Hebrew Scriptures) but that’s not the focus of this book.)

The good old days weren’t as golden as previously supposed. I find this new knowledge to be enlightening in that it makes modern humans, by comparison, seem not so disorganized and divided after all. But they’re plenty of things to learn from history. So the work of historical scholarship is not a license to conclude there’s no truth to be gleaned from canonical writing. The truth is still there even when viewed through the lenses of historical knowledge.