Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why

by Bart D. Ehrman

Paperback, 2007



Call number



HarperOne (2007), Edition: Reprint, 242 pages


When Biblical scholar 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. For almost 1500 years these manuscripts were hand copied by scribes who were 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. 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. He makes the provocative case that many of our cherished biblical stories and beliefs stem from both intentional and accidental alterations by scribes--alterations that dramatically affected subsequent versions.--From publisher description.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member Arctic-Stranger
If you are looking for the definitive book on why you no longer have to go to church with your parents/spouse, etc, this is not it.

Like Spong, Ehrman is really giving us an overview of current academic scholarship concerning the New Testament. Much of what he writes here can be found in any
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seminary Bible survey course.

But unlike Spong Ehrman a) does not claim that is a all new discovery, and therefore discredits Faith As We Know It, and b) handles his conclusions with care.

Essentially this is a popular introduction to textual analysis, and a very good one. Ehrman does treat us to his original scholarship, and that is a treat in this book.

No Grand Conspiracies, no Da Vinci Code type coverups, just good scholarship on the Bible, and in the end, that does both the Bible and those who want to use it properly a great service.
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LibraryThing member GeekGoddess
A noted Biblical scholar and textual critic, Dr Ehrman explains the method by which the Bible was copied by scribes, how scholars track which versions (among thousands that exist) are the oldest or most authentic, how disparant versions were reconciled at different times depending on what beliefs
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were the most prevalent (such as during the Nicene deliberations), and how copying errors are discovered. One of the chapters discusses the Greek translations that were later used by the group who prepared the King James version. When some refer to reading the Bible 'in the original Greek' they are usually referring to this particular translation which was prepared in the 11th century, using manuscripts that were later found to NOT be the oldest or most faithful to the oldest known copies. The King James, which is the most popular English-language translation, was based on Middle Ages manuscripts that were known, both now and in the 16th century, as being more error-ridden than other better documented copies. Dr. Ehrman is quite readable and makes history interesting.
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LibraryThing member gmicksmith
This is a well-written brief review of the accepted textual problems found in the New Testament. The book was written to assist laypeople in their understanding of how the textual tradition of the NT has been modified over time. None of it is really controversial yet as Ehrman explains there are no
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books which attempt to explain academic pursuits in regards to the reliability of the NT text. He explains that as a devout young person he innocently believed that the words of the text were inerrant however as an academic he began to understand that we did not have the actual words of Scripture. His academic interests led him to more fully understand the complexity of the transmission and he faithfully surveys the history of scholarship regarding the textual tradition. Along the way he demonstrates how specific Scriptural passages are not well attested, or have been modified for theological reasons or for the sake of clarity.
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LibraryThing member theelephantseye
Ehrman refers to his background as "evangelical." The background he actually describes is clearly fundamentalist (a specific, albeit large, subgroup of evangelical Christians). While most all fundamentalists would consider themselves evangelical, many evangelical Christians consider fundamentalists
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extremely deluded if not an outright danger to Christian belief. Nothing in this book is the least bit disturbing or discouraging to an open minded person of evangelical faith (even one who is "born again") except for Ehrman's rejection of faith because it failed to live up to the garbage he was brainwashed with as a teenager. Just because the Bible is a book with human authors, transmitted through imperfect scribes which obviously includes textual errors, it does not follow that this precludes divine inspiration or its use by a theistic God to instruct His/Her imperfect human creations. An imperfect book for imperfect humanity actually seems a nice fit. The arguments that Ehrman makes tend to be weak and convoluted. He often admits that many of the examples he uses are open to debate among scholars. The book does provide useful instruction for those unaware of how much of scholarly opinion rests on a foundation of speculation. Serious study of ancient manuscripts eat away at fundamentalist bibliolatry pretty quickly, but it poses no danger whatsoever to those of a more rational faith who retain the right to think for themselves.
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LibraryThing member ablueidol
Is religious faith a journey of discovery for you rather then a destination? Does your religious experience feel like home rather then a prison so all are welcome? Is the following joke funny or in bad taste?

A man falls over the edge of a cliff. Hurtling down he manages to grasp a tree branch and
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whilst not religious, he shouts for God to give a helping hand. To his shock a voice from the heavens says ' I shall put out My hand to help thee. I shall hold thee securely. Just let go and trust in me' The man is silent, overwhelmed by the Voice and its message. Looking down, and then up, he whispers, 'Is there anyone else up there?

If your answers are along the lines of ...Satin get behind me... then best not to read either this review or the book. Because you are about to deal with a detailed argument that the New Testament for example is not the inerrant word of God but a human document created by people trying to live and practice conflicting views of what Christianity meant over 350 years. Christianity in becoming the state religion leads to an Orthodoxy in the form of the Nicene creed and the final victory of one of the many Christian sects. The others are suppressed and their books burned, the Pagan temples are destroyed and anti-Semitism becomes part of popular culture. The diversity of the Christian voices lost is explored by Bart D. Ehrman in his book, Lost Christianities. Charles Freeman explores the impact of the Constantine Christian church in The Closing of the Western Mind.

Misquoting Jesus explores a more simple issue of Textual criticism and the attempt to find the original or more realistically the oldest copy. The challenge is that the written document gets changed as it is transmitted over time given changing medium and tools as much as these wider political and theological struggles. Bart D. Ehrman reveals why these issues shaped his personal journey from being a Christian that saw Billy Graham as a dangerous liberal. He was at university struggling to explain why the Mark reference of 1 SAM.21:2-6 was not wrong. Having written a very complex argument to show it was not a mistake, he gave the paper in and it was given back with the comment, 'maybe Mark just made a mistake'. This opened the floodgates for him to look at explaining the other mistakes and so re-framing what the Bible and his faith was.

The book explores the simple oddity that Christianity with the exception of Judaism was the only book based faith of the period yet 97% or more of early Christians were illiterate. Any books and writings were copied from church to church by amateur scribes barely literature themselves. It took most of the 350 years for an agreed cannon to emerge so again hit and miss what versions survived. Virtually most of the complete documents only go back to the 4th century with fragments going back to the 2nd century. These complete older copies themselves did not get rediscovered until 200 odd years after the Bible and the King James version was printed based on incomplete and inaccurate manuscripts.

What got copied over the medieval period was more accurate because of professional scribes but textual critics can trace whole families of texts where the same mistakes are transmitted. Bart D. Ehrman explores the tricks of the trade of how texts get judged as accurate. The primary rule appears to be the harder the reading the more likely to be accurate. By this he means that scribes tended to simplify and harmonise texts that appear to be at odds to "common sense" or with what ever theology was dominate at the time.

The issue of textural accuracy began to become a serious political and theological issue as the Bible was translated into local languages as part of the growth of Protestantism. John Mill in 1707 brought the issue out in to the open by revealing 30, 000 variant readings(to day this is known to be 200,000 mostly spelling mistakes, slip of the pen , missed words etc) Buts its the theological editing and missed/added key sections that Bart D. Ehrman concentrates in in the book. This caused, and in some way still causes, a major problem for Protestants. If your faith is based in the authority of the Bible as the word of God then it not being accurate undermines that authority as the Catholics were eager to point out. They preferred the justification for authority being based on the church and Pope. Protestants reacted by either denying the existence of mistakes or accepted that the Bible was substantially accurate but seeking for originals or older more accurate versions would not do any harm.

Another reaction older then the textual criticism discussed is associated with Christian groups such as Quakers. Here the issue is that the Bible is not a closed revelation but a living and dynamic one based on a personal relationship's with God and that experience leading to convincement and changes in the world. John Wolman for example, guided Quakers to oppose slavery although the Bible accepts slavery as normal, the issue in the Bible being how to treat slaves fairly not abolition.

After discussing the mechanics of how the text get altered Bart D. Ehrman explores the complex theological battles of the early days that affected the text. For example those Christians who saw Jesus as Human only, those that saw him as Human but adopted by God, those that saw him as divine only etc. The other battle was with the role of woman who had a powerful presence in the early church and the texts reflected the battle to suppress them. A third battle was with Pagans and Jews

In these chapters, he also explores the wider issues of who wrote what for what theological purpose. Mark written for the early more Jewish Christians who favoured Jesus as human whist John written with the more sophisticated pagan criticism in mind that Jesus as God would not show human emotions. These ideas and that the New Testament is not a literal history but a series of meditations in line with a liturgical timetable is explored further in Rescuing the bible from Fundamentalism by John Shelby Spong.

As you can see lots of big issues but the book is simple and clear and you can come to it fresh or experienced and still learn. I strongly recommend it. Your faith may be changed or challenged but

recognise and accept that there is another dimension to life than that what is obvious to us. Live with obstacles, doubt and paradox, knowing, that God is always present in the world.
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LibraryThing member Atomicmutant
A very accessible, relevant and friendly introduction to biblical Textual Criticism; a normally heady and esoteric field that nonetheless weighs heavily on the current culture of devotion to biblical inerrancy. The text assumes no prior knowledge on the part of the reader, and gently leads one
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through the wild and crazy lineage that the current Bible has had to endure on its way to being "what it is". The central thesis here is, to point out emphatically that we do not possess original gospel texts in any case, and what we do retain has been altered ad infinitum through mistakes, theological and political agendae, and just plain old telephone-game type tomfoolery. Ehrman starts the book with a plain revelation of his own personal faith journey, from inerrant textualist, to scholarly analyst, that gives human context to the materials that follow. Enjoyable and highly recommended as an appetizer for those wondering about how the bible in its current form came to be. Did I mention it's just over 200 pages long? What are you waiting for, kids?
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LibraryThing member richardbsmith
"The New Testament is a very human book."

Excellent popular introduction to NT textual criticism. I had not known that Dr Ehrman had such a strong background in textual criticism. It is very impressive to find that he had worked with Bruce Metzger.

(Though the review below that suggests that the
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title (and cover notes) are misleading is absolutely accurate.)

Through his insights into textual criticism Dr Ehrman presents the NT as a human book, not fully inspired, not dictated by the Holy Spirit. It is as a human book that the NT holds it power for me.

This book presents, in a very engaging and readable manner as well as personal, the basics of textual criticism as well as its history and growth as a discipline.

A point that Dr Ehrman made that was new to me - the shift in the types of textual changes from the amateur period pre-4th century and the professional scribal period post 4th century.

Dr Ehrman looks at specific examples of significant changes and offers interpretations of the impact of those changes on theological, Christological, and social questions.

I recommend this book to all who want a deeper understanding of the New Testament as a book that documents the human striving to understand the divine.

It is a very human book.
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LibraryThing member ehines
Interesting. A survey of textual issues in the new testament written by a former biblical literalist, which is an interesting perspective. Gets dragged down dealing with the many, many small textual variations in the new testament. A good companion to Who Wrote the Gospels, but not as good a read
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as that one.
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LibraryThing member davidpwithun
To be completely honest, reading this book was a waste of my time. I generally enjoy Ehrman's work, in spite of his sensationalist style, but I was very disappointed with this one. Misquoting Jesus was filled with page after page of Ehrman's typical version of "shock and awe," none of which is very
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often shocking or awing, but with none of the redeeming information and interesting facts that his other books usually contain.

Rather than a scholarly and engaging look at the manuscript traditions of the New Testament and ensuing errors and alterations thereof which I assumed would be the content of this book, Ehrman spends the majority of the book speaking in the first person as a young, naive "'born again' Christian" being exposed for the first time to (what he believes are) the shocking facts that the King James Version isn't the inerrant Word of God and that the Scriptures didn't fall out of heaven one day. This reveals much less about the history and textual traditions of the New Testament than it does about Ehrman himself, who seems to live perpetually in that juvenile state and seems to honestly believe that every other self-professed Christian lives in the same state. This latter apparent view of Ehrman was revealed especially by the variety of inane statements throughout the book which seem to indicate his unfamiliarity with any form of Christianity outside of the evangelical "born again" version of his childhood (see below for an example of this).

What scanty little real facts and information there were in this book were not only overshadowed by the above aspects of the book but were also basic enough that they could easily be gleaned by reading Wikipedia articles on the relevant topics (trust me, that's an insult). I've done a little reading in the area, but I'm no expert to be sure, and yet aside from a few minor dates and interesting stories, I was familiar with almost everything covered in this book.

In the end, I wouldn't recommend this book at all. There's too much great reading in early Christian history and even specifically in the manuscript traditions of the New Testament (such as Jaroslav Pelikan's Whose Bible Is It? A Short History of the Scriptures, for instance) to waste your time reading such worthless trite. Rather than scholarship, you will receive a thinly-veiled attack on Ehrman's own straw-man of Christianity (he does, after all, begin the book with the story of his own conversion from "'born-again' Christianity" to atheism), made all the more pitiful for not only being possibly the weakest criticism ever leveled at Christianity but for Ehrman's halfhearted attempt to make his attack look like real scholarship.

For your reading pleasure, a few outstanding examples of Ehrman's inanity in this book:

"This is the account of 1 John 5:7-8, which scholars have called the Johannine Comma, found in the manuscripts of the Latin Vulgate but not in the vast majority of Greek manuscripts, a passage that had long been a favorite among Christian theologians, since it is the only passage in the entire Bible that explicitly delineates the doctrine of the Trinity, that there are three persons in the godhead, but that the three constitute just one God."

Really? A purported New Testament scholar who is unfamiliar with Matthew 28:19? How about Titus 3:4-6? Still nothing? Oh well, I give up... Just out of curiosity, though: who are these "Christian theologians" amongst whom the Johannine Comma "[has] long been a favorite"? You'd think things like this would need more than vague assertions and non-arguments; not in Ehrmanworld, I guess.

"... or consider all the different Christian denominations, filled with intelligent and well-meaning people who base their views of how the church should be organized and function on the Bible, yet all of them coming to radically different conclusions (Baptists, Pentecostals, Presbyterians, Roman Catholics, Appalachian snake-handlers, Greek Orthodox, and on and on)."

You'd think it would be a good idea for somebody who "chairs the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill" (as the author bio on the back flap of the book says) to know enough about the two largest groups of Christians in the world, Roman Catholics and Orthodox, that he would not make the ignorant statement that these two groups "base their views of how the church should be organized and function on the Bible." Really? When did the Roman Catholics and the Orthodox pick up Sola Scriptura? And all this time I thought Tradition was the basis of our system of Church governance. In addition, there can't be much reason aside from sheer ignorance why he insists on saying "Greek Orthodox" specifically (he says it twice in this book and I've noticed it in others as well, where he gives a list similar to this one for a similar reason) given that there are 26 other Orthodox jurisdictions in addition to the Greek and that the Greek jurisdiction is not even the largest of them. I can only hope that somebody in a position of power at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is reading this and thinking about hiring a chair for their Department of Religious Studies(!) who is actually familiar with ... well ... religious studies.

And, of course, saving the best for last: "Put it this way: There are more variances among our manuscripts than there are words in the New Testament."

Thanks to True Free Thinker for saving me the work on this one:

Considering that [Bart Ehrman's] book Misquoting Jesus explored the issue of variant readings in New Testament manuscripts it may be surprising to some that Bart Ehrman’s book itself contains millions and millions of variants.

Following are some examples of the variants:

On p. 13 reference is made to “Timothy LeHaye and Philip Jenkins” as the authors of the Left Behind series of novels. However, the authors of the series are Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. Thus, error 1. Tim has never published as “Timothy,” error 2. his last name is not LeHaye but LaHaye and error 3. Jenkins’s first name is not Philip but Jerry.

On p. 110 error 4. “Timothy” is used as LaHaye’s last name.

In the index Timothy’s name is error 5. again spelled as “LeHaye.”

On p. 110 Hal Lindsey’s name is error 6. misspelled as “Hal Lindsay.”

On p. 70 Desiderius Erasmus is error 7. misspelled as “Desiderus Erasmus.”


Now, if you are paying attention—or are you like me and simply cannot afford to pay attention? :o)—you may be thinking 1) that is only 16 errors, 2) they are mostly merely misspellings, 3) they do not affect the contents of the text and certainly do not affect any major point which the book seeks to make.

As for 2) and 3); thank you for noticing as this is precisely, word for word, how many of us feel about Bart Ehrman’s criticisms of the New Testament manuscripts.

As for 1) how do 16 equal my assertion of there being millions and millions of variants? Well, let us learn some methodology, the sort that allows Ehrman claim, “Put it this way: There are more variances among our manuscripts than there are words in the New Testament.”

I do not know how many copies Misquoting Jesus has sold but it is reported that “Within the first three months, more than 100,000 copies were sold.”

The way it works is as simple as it is deceptive: you multiply the 16 variants by how many times they have been reproduced. As the 16 have been reproduced 100,000 (in three months alone) you multiply these and so the total of variants in Misquoting Jesus equals: 1,600,000.

And that, boys and girls, is how Bart Ehrman manages to make sensational claims that gain him notoriety and quite a few shekels.

I highly recommend giving the whole post a read. It's a better than mine, I promise!
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LibraryThing member SheilaDeeth
If you’ve ever wondered why your Bible has those footnotes – “some translations say…” or the equivalent – then this is the book for you. Bart Ehrman knows the ancient languages and texts, and makes them eminently accessible to the lay reader. In so doing, he looks at how different
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versions of the same text are analyzed and compared, and how the serious student deduces which is original and which is changed. The results are fascinating and never simple. Not just a question of which copy is found most frequently, and certainly not of which copy best fits a preferred interpretation (though the latter, in history, often resulted in the same error becoming the most common version); this book shows how history, society, and even technology determined the translations of the Bible as it comes to us.

The book can be read equally by believers and non-believers, revealing an unbiased approach to what is now believed, and what was believed in Christian churches through the ages. The information on how faith changed and how it stayed the same is fascinating – a much more nuanced question that the simple East-West, Catholic-Protestant divides that I grew up with.

It’s fascinating to learn how experts recognize different hands writing the same text; how word choice and story structure make a difference; and how external influences often determined which version was preferred. For myself, as a mathematician, it’s cool to see how “little” is debatable, though those of a less mathematical bent might be disturbed instead by how “much.” But the result is a very approachable, informative analysis, that leaves the reader to choose where they will stand. I really enjoyed the book, and I really learned a lot.

Disclosure: I’d delved into this book on occasion before, but this is the first time I’ve read it cover to cover, and I loved it.
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LibraryThing member Carlie
I found this book to be enlightening, informative, and easy to read and comprehend. The author does not bog the reader down with too many technicalities, gets right to the point, and keeps the story moving - especially important for this type of book. The information could have easily filled
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The crux of the matter is that not only did humans keep the textual tradition and make human errors and alterations in the process, but humans also wrote their own personal and social perspectives into the text. Some highlights of debates and social conventions that were transmitted into the text include: Christians vs. women's role in the church, Christians vs. Jews, and Christians vs. pagans. Within the church were also many debates which would cause alterations: Jesus as a man, Jesus as divine, and Jesus as both a man and divine at the same time. All of these debates were current in the day of the original and/or the copies and the interaction of men and the text brought about alterations of the New Testament.
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LibraryThing member Lukerik
The title is click-bait and now that it’s got your attention you can ignore it. This is a layman’s introduction to the textual criticism of the New Testament. What it will do is allow you to get through a conversation without looking like a total fool when the subject comes up at parties, as it
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invariably does.

You don’t need any Greek. Ehrman has a couple of clever tricks to get around that problem. He never let’s a technical term slip by without glossing it. You could probably still follow the book if you had only the vaguest idea of what the New Testament actually was. He uses very interesting examples. A good teacher. It’s far more enjoyable that any book on the subject really deserves to be. The style is readable and somehow friendly. Very fast paced. Reminded me a bit of The Da Vinci Code.
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LibraryThing member bke
_READ ANYTHING BY EHRMAN_ Think you know what the bible says? Guess again. It has been hand copied and copied and copied, the originals long since lost. Errors have crept in as well as deliberate changes. If you think the bible is the inerrant word of yahweh, you probably will not like this. But if
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you are prone to quoting the bible at people, you really should read this.
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LibraryThing member steadfastreader
Decent exploration of how our modern day scriptures came to be. It gets redundant towards the end.

Worth the read for anyone, secular or religious, with an interest in the Bible.
LibraryThing member satyridae
Equally fascinating and infuriating, this book sheds light on the early revisions of the New Testament of the bible. Somewhat repetitive, and told in a fairly simplistic fashion, it's still an interesting read. According to Ehrman (and backed up by convincing arguments) many of the things you know
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about Jesus are probably wrong, if you get your information from the King James Version of the bible. The infuriating parts are about how the early church fathers changed the texts to exclude women from being part of the church in any meaningful fashion.
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LibraryThing member GoofyOcean110
It was Good to Pretty Good. Nothing earth shattering. Things get lost and lost in translation. Texts were written down and copied manually, which can introduce errors. Most errors don't matter but some may, depending. Some changes were made intentionally, for example as intentional corrections or
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in the context of the theological debates/controversies at the time. The people doing the copying may matter. Interesting stuff. Will think a bit more and write (maybe) write something (maybe) more profound later. I don't think this is a book that will change beliefs or opinions in either direction, but at least may raise awareness or provide examples of how of the issue that textual criticism (a field of exegesis) is important and context is critical.
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LibraryThing member Darrol
A good general introduction to the ways scholars study the manuscripts of the New Testament to determine the earliest form of the texts available. Ehrman discusses some of the ways scribes altered the texts they copied, often accidentally, occasionally for ideological reasons. Some good discussions
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of individual instances of alteration, but this book is less strong explaining a unified theory of how to evaluate the readings. How, for example, to honor the earliest manuscripts available while realizing that later witness (sometimes small number of these) might represent earlier readings.
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LibraryThing member KR2
I had a similar experience while crossing the Nepali border from India. The border guard, not familiar with the English language, had to copy the information from my visa letter for letter into his records. The outcome did not resemble what was in my passport.

This is a truly significant piece of
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history. Ehrman has boldly exposed the truth about the bible and how it has been passed down to us through the ages. Ehrman was interviewed on extension 720.
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LibraryThing member MsCellophane
After a long dry streak, I'm hitting on a lot of books I'm really enjoying. This is one of those.

Misquoting Jesus is a concise(ish) layperson's guide to alterations made to the Bible over its lifespan. The author is a noted Biblical scholar, and though scholarship doesn't necessarily lend itself to
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readable treatises, I was able to easily understand both his arguments and his explanations of the linguistics involved. Moreover, a lot of it was terribly fascinating stuff. At the very least, *I* found information about the compassionification of Jesus, the anti-Semitic edits, etc. to be fascinating. The author has an understated sense of humour about the topic that shines through at unexpected times, and he made me laugh more than once.

Plus, a lot of additional recommended resources in the notes! Woo hoo!
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LibraryThing member wcpweaver
What if the Bible were more like the Wikipedia than the exact Word of God? With thousands of people making changes over hundreds of years, except with no track back. How could you ever trust it, much less condemn people to hell because of someone's interpretation of it? Hold onto your head, because
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that's exactly what happened. All kinds of basic, dare I say—fundamental—changes were made to the New Testament and no one can possibly know how much was changed, whether it's about snake handling or virgin birth. Ehrman makes a very good case for taking a more relaxed view about the Passion o' Christ and seeing it for the metaphor that it is, rather than divine smackdown some would have it be. Worth a look if you're a skeptic and don't know why, or a Christian who wants to test his faith.
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LibraryThing member martensgirl
I found this book to be a highly informative and readable introduction into the analysis of Christian scripture. As a complete novice, I felt it was perfectly pitched, although I won't be going to Aramaic classes any time soon.
LibraryThing member vegaheim
extremely interesting. if one speaks another language one knows that there is loss in translation. very well written, not boring at all, (mrs. cook loaned, bought my own)
LibraryThing member lechatquidors
Very readable book that for the most part provides a non-polemical look at the historical facts.
LibraryThing member kaelirenee
This is a book written by a former Evangelical Christian who has studied Biblical history in depth. It is an amazing book that looks at the history of the Bible, how it came to be written, translated, and interpreted. For those who believe that the Bible is the inerrant work of God, it is important
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to remember that, while God may ahve had all the ideas, man was still responsible for the editorial process. This is a well-written and accessible introduction to Biblical studies and textual analysis.
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LibraryThing member Swampslogger
Book Review

Title: Misquoting Jesus- The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why.

Author: Bart D.Ehrman Presently he is chairman of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

To understand Christianity one must understand Judaism from whence
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Christianity sprung. Judaism was the first monotheism. Previously polytheism involved many deities of greater or lesser importance and associated with various aspects of life. The latter involved little or no doctrine or ethics. It was not written.

Judaism became the “religion of the book”. Ancestral traditions, customs, and laws, were recorded in sacred books.

The author, in his younger years, was a devout “born-again” Christian and pursued his Bible studies assiduously. His interest led him to seminary school and the study of Latin and Greek, to better do research on “original texts“.

It was during his pursuit of “original texts” that a sort of disillusion began to seep into his consciousness. As he became aware that through the centuries copyist of the earlier texts had made mistakes and even made changes on purpose. He perceived that the “inspired word” of the Bible was less inspired and more interpreted to suit the times or the individuals ideas.

His conclusion was that the Bible was less the “word of God” and more the words of men. He became, what he now calls himself, “a happy Agnostic“. (Mentioned during an interview on NPR)

I found the book interesting, and enlightening, and in some respects repetitious. It definitely points out things that most Christians are not likely to be aware of. i.e. The first four books of the New Testament that supposedly tell the same story are quite different one from the other.
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