Bruce M. Metzger
Forged, that is apparently the name of a new book by Bart Ehrman. So, we see a progression here. He wrote with his mentor, Dr. Bruce Manning Metzger the scholarly, The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, And Restoration, then took the dry materials out of that work and put them into Misquoting Jesus. Some of the material in the back of Misquoting Jesus is pretty dry. Misquoting Jesus was written for a lay public. I am reading it now and from what I observe he is attempting to strain gnats. By that I mean that he makes points about “big” issues with the texts of the New Testament without foundation or with crumbly foundation. Then he pulls back in a very short paragraph with a disclaimer as, “90 % of the variants in the New Testaments amount to nothing.” He takes a headline-making approach similar to newspapers, TV and news web sites. They put provocative headlines on stories to get a reader to stop or pay attention.
He’s written many other books for the lay public too and in the same vein as Misquoting Jesus. There is Jesus Interrupted where he takes a harsher and more biased stance against not only the New Testament but also the Old. He shows his bias so well in that book with unsatisfactory scholarship where he incorrectly interprets passages, carrying over mistakes from Misquoting Jesus, all resulting in the wrong conclusions. Because I don’t know how he got to some of the statements he made in the book I will not say that he lied. How do you tell a lie? You tell a lie when you know that what you are writing is not true. I don’t know that he knows that some of the statements in that book were not true, therefore, I can’t say that he lied. See here for more on the non-truth statements.
I have not read Forged by Dr. Ehrman. But people are already making statements about what is there. So, I thought I would list salient statements here.
Most of these forgeries were not included in the New Testament and it’s not hard to see why. Church fathers were wary of accounts steeped in magic and superstition, such as a text now known as Pseudo-Matthew that includes fantastical tales of dragons paying obeisance to a 2-year-old Jesus.
Okay, good statement, but note they say “most” forged documents were not included in the New Testament. Stay tuned.
Ehrman’s beef is not so much with ancient forgers but with present-day believers who uncritically accept Biblical writings as genuine and consider it a sacrilege to question the Bible’s authenticity. “Forged” is just the latest bombshell Ehrman has lobbed at his former co-religionists.
Co-religionists?? That is an interesting term. I don’t recall seeing that term used anywhere. I certainly do not view myself as a co-religionist really of anyone much less so him.
Jesus with Children
No, it is no sacrilegious to question the authenticity of things in the Bible. This is an example of the kind of statement that Dr. Ehrman makes in his books. He goes way out on the limb, assuming that all Christians are just like, say Westboro Baptist, and proclaims that what one tiny group thinks is shared by all of Christendom. Now so Dr. Ehrman!! Dr. Ehrman knows that his discipline, textual criticism, is centered on determining what was in the the original manuscripts of the New Testament in particular and what additions may have been made later. We all realize that it is not such a stretch for some things to get into the New Testament that were maybe a side note on a manuscript. That is a good explanation for how it happened. But we know today the verses that have been added and they have since been well documented in new English translations since the 1970’s. This, folks is a non issue. But it sells books today!!
Orthodox Christianity owes an incalculable debt to the prolific work of forgers. Six of Paul’s 13 epistles – Ephesians, Colossians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy and Titus – are believed by scholars to have been written by someone other than Paul.
And who has made this assessment?? Bart Ehrman, the Jesus Seminar fellows, and John Spong? Why don’t we get a fair and balanced critique of Dr. Ehrman’s postulates? Maybe he won’t appear so academically unbiased if we were to do that. Heck, I already have, and he doesn’t fair very well when the majority of his contemporaries weigh in. He is in a minority.
He is so bad and biased that a man in his home town has started a “project” because he is such a project: EhrmanProject.com.
I like Dr. James Emery White‘s assessment of Dr. Ehrman’s tactics here:
In truth, few issues have been vetted more thoroughly in biblical scholarship than dating and authorship. There is nothing new under the sun for Ehrman to unveil, and what discussions he introduces have long been engaged.
After Christianity sought to ally itself with the Roman Empire, forged gospels and epistles were created to absolve the Romans of murdering Jesus and to place the blame for deicide on the Jews. In the Pilate Gospel and others, for example, the Pilate repents for his role in the crucifixion and converts to Christianity.
What he fails to say is that even those smart Christians at Nicea knew about some of the forgeries that he is talking about and as a result these letters or other works did not make it into the canon of scriptures. There is a canon of the New Testament. That’s a list of letters and Gospels which were accepted by many, many churches in various parts of the Middle East, Europe, and Africa as being authentic and in line with the teachings of Jesus Christ and His chosen Apostles.
There is bedrock data that is rock solid which include more strenuous critique of the New Testament than Dr. Ehrman covers in his lay books. He, however, politely avoids all that data.
The above quotes were taken from an article in the Charlotte Observer, here *.
If you want more critical view of what Dr. Bart Ehrmans is doing visit here *.
* I left these links in because they existed in 2011 at this writing.