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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)

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  •  
    R. J. Monts Southern Illinois 09-26-11
    R. J. Monts Southern Illinois 09-26-11 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "a (mostly) balanced discussion"

    I took 3 years of koine (Biblical) greek in college and am aware of the textual variants in the texts of the New Testament. And while the author is upfront about his bias and purpose in writing the book, he glosses over some significant points.


    1. Counting textual variants. A textual variant is counted for every manuscript, even if that manuscript is a known copy. So once a scribe made a mistake, every copy of the document is counted as a textual variant even when it is a part of the same family of texts.


    2. Many of the textual variants cited do not exist in the Bible today, but the author presents them as though these are widely distributed texts. A small number of these variants appeared in certain areas, but the widely accepted text that has been passed down is generally the same.


    3. The author presents the pseudoprigrapha texts (Gosepl of Thomas, etc.) as equally valid as the 4 accepted Gospels of the New Testament. However, these texts were never accepted by the majority of the early church and were not viewed as credible in their own time. But the author paints the picture of a broad conspiracy of proto-orthodox believers to exclude these texts, without regard for their content or historical context.


    There are a number of issues that the author and I agree on, this was an enjoyable read, for the $5 I paid during an audible sale.

    27 of 32 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lincoln Ottumwa, IA, USA 10-03-09
    Lincoln Ottumwa, IA, USA 10-03-09 Member Since 2002
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    "Maybe a little too much..."

    I recommend you first try the book Ehrman wrote after this one, "Jesus Interrupted". It steps back from the details presented in this book to give a better understanding of how the Bible developed. Then, if you want to delve deeper into the details of the New Testament, get this one.

    15 of 19 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeremiah Murphysboro, IL, United States 09-26-11
    Jeremiah Murphysboro, IL, United States 09-26-11 Member Since 2010
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    "a (mostly) balanced discussion"

    I took 3 years of koine (Biblical) greek in college and am aware of the textual variants in the texts of the New Testament. And while the author is upfront about his bias and purpose in writing the book, he glosses over some significant points.


    1. Counting textual variants. A textual variant is counted for every manuscript, even if that manuscript is a known copy. So once a scribe made a mistake, every copy of the document is counted as a textual variant even when it is a part of the same family of texts.


    2. Many of the textual variants cited do not exist in the Bible today, but the author presents them as though these are widely distributed texts. A small number of these variants appeared in certain areas, but the widely accepted text that has been passed down is generally the same.


    3. The author presents the pseudoprigrapha texts (Gosepl of Thomas, etc.) as equally valid as the 4 accepted Gospels of the New Testament. However, these texts were never accepted by the majority of the early church and were not viewed as credible in their own time. But the author paints the picture of a broad conspiracy of proto-orthodox believers to exclude these texts, without regard for their content or historical context.


    There are a number of issues that the author and I agree on, this was an enjoyable read, for the $5 I paid during an audible sale.

    18 of 23 people found this review helpful
  •  
    DMHVetSurveyor Western Wisconsin 11-22-06
    DMHVetSurveyor Western Wisconsin 11-22-06 Member Since 2005
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    "Understanding Manuscripts"

    Dr. Erhman does a very good job of helping people to understand the cannon of Scripture and the differences in the manuscripts and how personal beliefs influenced the people transcribing those manuscripts. Very illuminating. A very good course in understanding the New Testament. Enjoy! Warning: May not be suitable or might upset those with a KJV only belief.

    48 of 63 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Orange, CA, United States 01-31-12
    Michael Orange, CA, United States 01-31-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Leaves you wondering"
    Any additional comments?

    The author of Misquoting Jesus leaves you wondering, almost until the end, just what his personal beliefs are. I enjoyed this book all the more because of that. The information is presented very objectively.

    2 of 2 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_.

    33 of 47 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

    26 of 37 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!

    12 of 17 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Doug Columbus, NC, United States 08-10-07
    Doug Columbus, NC, United States 08-10-07

    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.

    37 of 54 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Prsilla California 11-26-13
    Prsilla California 11-26-13 Member Since 2007

    Say something about yourself!

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    "HOW JESUS CAME TO SPEAK IN RED ENGLISH WORDS!"

    This is a serious book, well-narrated and a not difficult listen for regular lay-persons of any religious preference. The author is quite neutral, matter-of fact, though with a Protestant born-again background. You could sit there with your King James on your lap, scribbling furious notes. Or you could just keep knitting and listen twice as I did. I don't like the title at all. It suggests a flippancy or jokester element that is not in the book. We are all misquoting Jesus simply because the original texts are lost and nobody had a tape recorder running when Jesus was teaching. His first listeners and everyone since have done the best they could. Really.

    The author is a fine scholar who built on his youthful passion for Bible study and went so far as to learn the original languages and immerse himself in the absorbing study of ancient documents, second-guessing the old scribes, reasoning through all the whys and wherefores. What this book does is impress the lay-person with how much he doesn't know, can't know, and has to trust the scholars about. Mr. Ehrman gives fascinating specific examples of the kinds of mistakes that were made over centuries of copying -- some accidental, some deliberate tweaking in a time before printing presses or copy machines. There was no respect for copyright. If material was being dictated, a word that sounded similar might be substituted inadvertantly.

    I majored in English, so studied Chaucer and Shakespeare. I understood that the King James Bible was not telling me to go in my clothes CLOSET to pray among the boots and tennis shoes, although that could be a good place. I also came through a rigorous Sunday School and Bible study regimen as a kid. One college required four units of religion for graduation. That expanded my understanding. A visit to the un-Holy Land helped as well. This author does not speak down to anyone. He manages to include all of us as his friends and fellow students. I stayed interested. I can only imagine how difficult it would be to decide where to stop in taking up this study. Does an eager young person learn Latin, Greek and Hebrew and start studying old documents -- or does she learn enough to appreciate the more thorny passages, the major puzzles, and then proceed to ministerial life? This is the stuff of entire lifetimes! I have to think of the people who want to learn the computer, starting with bits and bytes and ones and zeros. They don't understand that they can learn to click a mouse and be gaming on FaceBook by suppertime! At any rate, this is a book I think the whole family would enjoy together, although I would never ever insist any child sit and listen! The old folks could play it on a road trip and the kids pick up a bit by osmosis. Even a teen would best find this subject gently for himself. The author gives a history of this study of Biblical texts so that we can investigate further to our heart's content. Huge subject! Absorbing listen!

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
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