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Misquoting Jesus | [Bart D. Ehrman]

Misquoting Jesus

When world-class biblical scholar Bart Ehrman first began to study the texts of the Bible in their original languages he was startled to discover the multitude of mistakes and intentional alterations that had been made by earlier translators. In Misquoting Jesus, Ehrman tells the story behind the mistakes and changes that ancient scribes made to the New Testament and shows the great impact they had upon the Bible we use today.
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Publisher's Summary

When world-class biblical scholar Bart Ehrman first began to study the texts of the Bible in their original languages he was startled to discover the multitude of mistakes and intentional alterations that had been made by earlier translators. In Misquoting Jesus, Ehrman tells the story behind the mistakes and changes that ancient scribes made to the New Testament and shows the great impact they had upon the Bible we use today. He frames his account with personal reflections on how his study of the Greek manuscripts made him abandon his once ultraconservative views of the Bible.

Since the advent of the printing press and the accurate reproduction of texts, most people have assumed that when they read the New Testament they are reading an exact copy of Jesus's words or Saint Paul's writings. And yet, for almost fifteen hundred years these manuscripts were hand copied by scribes who were deeply influenced by the cultural, theological, and political disputes of their day. Both mistakes and intentional changes abound in the surviving manuscripts, making the original words difficult to reconstruct. For the first time, Ehrman reveals where and why these changes were made and how scholars go about reconstructing the original words of the New Testament as closely as possible.

Ehrman makes the provocative case that many of our cherished biblical stories and widely held beliefs concerning the divinity of Jesus, the Trinity, and the divine origins of the Bible itself stem from both intentional and accidental alterations by scribes -- alterations that dramatically affected all subsequent versions of the Bible.Bart D. Ehrman chairs the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is a widely regarded authority on the history of the New Testament.

©2005 Bart Ehrman; (P)2006 Recorded Books

What the Critics Say

"Engaging and fascinating." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

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  •  
    P. J. Benyei 01-11-12 Member Since 2007
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    "Understanding"

    I think it would help potential listeners to understand this is a book primarily about the process or science of textual criticism and how scholars study origins of text and reach conclusions about which version might or might not be original. I found it fascinating.

    New testament as the subject of textual criticism would only be relevant or interesting to someone with a Christian background or understanding, especially if you've been involved in some of the in-fighting among various sects of Christianity. If you are familiar with the debates about divine inspiration and care about other nit-picky details. You don't need 12 years of catholic school, but a basic knowledge and interest in the topic helps.

    If you're not involved in the debate over one word, if you are looking for dramatic expose, or a worldwide sinister conspiracy theory, you will be disappointed. There are no shocking revelations. Its about an added sentence here or there, a single changed word, either deliberate or accidental. Its about why and how someone today would identify what words are suspect and which of various scripts might be original and how they can tell the difference. The basic story of the new testament doesn't change all that much, if at all.

    I think the narrator is a must, he does an excellent job explaining new concepts of textual criticism that wouldn't be familiar to the non-scholar. There's nothing too hard to understand, but for someone not familiar with the terminology, its much easier if you have someone read it and use proper pronunciation and inflection throughout the sentences.
    I think this is a book that lends itself to being read aloud that reading the text yourself.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer United States 12-12-11
    Amazon Customer United States 12-12-11
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    "Great read or listen which ever you do!"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Misquoting Jesus to be better than the print version?

    I was very happy with this because it gave me the opportunity to listen on my way to work and use my hour drive to benefit my mind! Very though provoking and informative, highly recommended. You will learn so much that most do not know about the bible and its true history.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Teri Gastonia, NC, United States 05-16-12
    Teri Gastonia, NC, United States 05-16-12

    3 Men & Me

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    "I wish I could read the Bible's original texts now"

    The reading is intonation is on point. There were parts of this book that sort of made me cringe as a Christian, but kept me listening so that I could understand how the transcribing of what is considered the original texts aren't that at all. What we have now as our Bible is the best that could be written with the limited material that was available and missing the original documents (first writing) for many of the books. It is easier to see why there are so many different interpretations and how this came to be.

    I want to listen again and take notes and talk with my pastor. Overall it helped to reaffirm my beliefs in Jesus as my savior and explain some of the discrepancies in the Bible that I had been struggling with. Highly recommend if you seek to further your knowledge of the history of the Bible along with your spirituality.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nathan Vancouver, BC, Canada 02-10-12
    Nathan Vancouver, BC, Canada 02-10-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Essential reading for Christians"

    Going into this book I was pretty ignorant about the origins of the bible, and I found it very informative. Anyone should be able to find this book interesting because of the impact that the bible has had on western culture, but it's especially for Christians that this book is really a must-read (or listen).

    I feel it's important to mention that Christians should listen to this because I noticed that a few of the other reviews cried heresy, and it would be a shame if any Christians avoided this book because of that. The book gives you an idea of how the bible came to be. If you live your life by the bible's teachings then it should go without saying that this subject is extremely relevant to your life. It's also worth noting that the author doesn't argue for or against the validity of Christianity, having listened to the book all the way through I'm still not even sure if the author is a Christian or not. (Although he does make a very good argument against completely literal interpretations of the bible, but that's unavoidable in any serious look at this subject)

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cora Judd California 05-10-09
    Cora Judd California 05-10-09 Member Since 2007
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    "Quite the revelation!"

    A fascinating book with a neutral position on religion and an academic approach to the evolution of the Bible.

    'Misquoting Jesus' is historically based and so full of new information (to me) that I'll have to go through it at least once more to fully absorb all that it offers. His treatment is scholarly, yet easily accessible. It clarified how very many questions I had had about the origins of the books of the Bible and the timeline from the time of Jesus to the latest interpretations. What I thought was the Bible's short, straight path from the apostles to King James is far more convoluted and obscured.

    My only challenge is: the role of scribes, as functionaries of a larger church, (of many larger churches), was not adequately explored. In the beginning, I puzzled over how Ehrman could attribute so much independent thought and deed to mere monks but gradually learned to read the word 'scribe' more broadly.

    "Misquoting...' won't threaten a reader's view of the Bible unless that view is that the Bible is the unadulterated word of God. For all else, it will likely be an education and a revelation!

    13 of 18 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christopher SOMERS, MT, United States 05-14-08
    Christopher SOMERS, MT, United States 05-14-08 Member Since 2006
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    "Not recommended for fundamentalists..."

    Professor Ehrman has written a marvelous book about how the books of the New Testament came to be, and what inspired him to write it. His research is very thorough, and very mind-opening regarding who actually "wrote" or copied the books prior to the invention of the printing press.

    Highly recommended for those who are curious about the history behind the scriptures, as well as the foundation of his subsequent books. Not recommended for fundamentalists, unless they are ready for some shocking revelations about how their sacred texts were altered over time.

    A 5-star book, I gave it a 4 due to the poor reading by Mr. Davidson. He doesn't seem to have a handle on the timing and dramatics. (Thank goodness this was the only of Ehrman's books he read.)

    Also recommended: _Peter, Paul & Mary Magdalene_, _Truth and Fiction in The DaVinci Code_, _God's Problem_, and _The Lost Gospel of Judas Iscariot_.

    34 of 48 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alton Park Forest, IL, USA 02-08-07
    Alton Park Forest, IL, USA 02-08-07 Member Since 2003
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    "sound facts, great book!"

    This was a great listen . The facts were solid and the information contain should help the student of the bible "rightly divide the WORD of TRUTH" . Assuming one is seeking Wisdom and truth. The book is disigned to enlighten the reader as to the origins of today's modern Bible. It is not designed to shake or destroy ones faith in the Christian Religion. It is an engaging listen , with a nice pace . Reader , keep and open mind and know that if one would seek truth ,he must search in multiple places. Not just the church

    27 of 38 people found this review helpful
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    Doug Columbus, NC, United States 08-10-07
    Doug Columbus, NC, United States 08-10-07 Member Since 2004

    Retired teacher of literature with an interest in religion and in science and in history. I have loved reading for 50 years.

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    "Compelling scholarship"

    Ehrman came to this subject with all the right credentials as a formerly-fundamentalist Christian who became educated via the best universities and who slowly realized through research in the original documents of Christianity that the story he was told in church before becoming a learned scholar is not based on documents that tell a consistent tale. He explains how the Christian bible is filled with errors caused by the failures of those who copied the documents through the centuries before (and after) printing presses came to be. His explanation is rational and welcome, at least to me, an educated person who does not read Greek but who wants to know what the bible really says and means....and if it is to be taken as the literal word of God. After listening to this book twice and buying the print copy to study, I have concluded that there is both more and less to the Bible than the fundamentalists say...although I guess I knew that all along.

    Ehrman's book is compelling, interesting, and essential to seekers who are tired of the voodoo and scare tactics of a certain type of "religious" person in American society who is to be found literally everywhere in the country.

    38 of 55 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James Union, Ontario, Canada 08-06-09
    James Union, Ontario, Canada 08-06-09 Member Since 2009
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    "Very interesting and well written"

    After reading some other books that, maybe for the first time, got me to ask "where did we get the bible from anyway?" I came across Misquoting Jesus.

    I couldnt recommend the book enough not only because of its comprehensive nature but the ability of the author to keep the book interesting and thought provoking.

    I found it easy to understand and unlike a lot of books on the matter this one is not apologetic and skewd towards the beliefs of a practicing Christian who wants you to still believe everything is good even though theres a lot of problems with the text. However its not a Hitchens god basher either. A very well rounded scholarly book for the layman such as myself.

    Great book and well worth the time to listen or read.

    18 of 26 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kari SILVER CITY, NM, USA 05-02-07
    Kari SILVER CITY, NM, USA 05-02-07
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    "A few Choice Misses"

    I did enjoy this book, although it is a little dry. It started out very autobiographical, then got scholerly, I expected the conclusion to return to the autobiographical theme and let the reader know what the authors take on the "misquotes" especially concerning his own faith... the path of which he shares in the beginning. However it did not return to the authors impressions. I was interested in the grist of the book, and for that it is a good read, although if this is really information you are interested in it may be better in a printed version, so as to go back and take notes etc. I had a lot of difficulty in rewinding, but that may just be getting used to my ipod. I would recomend having a bible handy.

    20 of 29 people found this review helpful
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