"Arguably the most distinctive feature of the early Christian literature," writes Bart Ehrman, "is the degree to which it was forged." The Homilies and Recognitions of Clement; Paul's letters to and from Seneca; Gospels by Peter, Thomas, and Philip; Jesus' correspondence with Abgar, letters by Peter and Paul in the New Testament - all forgeries. To cite just a few examples.
Forgery and Counterforgery is the first comprehensive study of early Christian pseudepigrapha ever produced in English. In it, Ehrman argues that ancient critics - pagan, Jewish, and Christian - understood false authorial claims to be a form of literary deceit, and thus forgeries. Ehrman considers the extent of the phenomenon, the "intention" and motivations of ancient Greek, Roman, and Jewish forgers, and reactions to their work once detected. He also assesses the criteria ancient critics applied to expose forgeries and the techniques forgers used to avoid detection.
With the wider practices of the ancient world as backdrop, Ehrman then focuses on early Christian polemics, as various Christian authors forged documents in order to lend their ideas a veneer of authority in literary battles waged with pagans, Jews, and, most importantly, with one another in internecine disputes over doctrine and practice. In some instances a forger directed his work against views found in another forgery, creating thereby a "counter-forgery." Ehrman's evaluation of polemical forgeries starts with those of the New Testament (nearly half of whose books make a false authorial claim) up through the Pseudo-Ignatian epistles and the Apostolic Constitutions at the end of the fourth century.
Shining light on an important but overlooked feature of the early Christian world, Forgery and Counterforgery explores the possible motivations of the deceivers who produced these writings, situating their practice within ancient Christian discourses on lying and deceit.
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While the narrator did a great job, this is just one of those books that doesn't translate well into an audiobook.
The book is too detailed for an audiobook with too many quotes and sources. Which is great for a book, but hard to follow while listening.
The readers cadence is odd, and his inflection flat. Worse, he mispronounces multiple words so poorly that it took multiple times hearing them before I realized what he was saying (example, his pronunciation of 'Thessalonians' is atrocious).
The readers performance seriously damages my enjoyment of this work.
Book interesting, but narration choppy with odd pronunciations ("Marcion" as "Martian" is funniest); be warned.
I wonder if this was one of Ehrmans first ventures into mass authorship as this book has proven to be a a data dump of esoteric information that almost borders on drivel if not for students of the subject or inhabitants of Ivory Towers. I could only make it 10 hours into the 25 hour plus book before giving up in frustration over his over abundance of obscure information in his over complicated way of stating the obvious.
I am grateful that he has thrown off these shackles of academic writing ad nauseam, and provided us with more fascinating reads like misquoting Jesus, How Jesus Became God, and Did Jesus Exist, just to name a few. But with being a prolific writer, one cannot expect all their writings to be in top form.
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