Forged In The Name Of God: Bart Ehrman And The Issue Of Pseudepigrapha In The New Testament -- By: Dewayne Bryant

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 25:4 (Fall 2012)
Article: Forged In The Name Of God: Bart Ehrman And The Issue Of Pseudepigrapha In The New Testament
Author: Dewayne Bryant


Forged In The Name Of God: Bart Ehrman And The Issue Of Pseudepigrapha In The New Testament

Dewayne Bryant

Bart Ehrman is the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has published over a dozen books for academic publishers and university presses, and his work has been translated into over two dozen languages. His book Misquoting Jesus took many by surprise when it raced to the top of the New York Times bestseller list. Few could have predicted that a book on New Testament textual criticism would be so popular. Ehrman writes in a popular-level and engaging style. He has an ability to take a complicated subject and make it digestible for a popular audience.

While Ehrman’s style is both informative and easy to read, longtime readers have seen his tone grow increasingly strident in his criticism of the Bible over time. In previous works, Ehrman argued that the biblical authors were often guilty of introducing errors into the texts they copied, perhaps by mistake. In Jesus, Interrupted, he went further and argued that scholars—many of them ministers—know about the textual problems of the New Testament, but withhold this information from their students and congregants for personal reasons. In Forged: Writing in the Name of God, Why the Bible’s Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are, he states flatly that the authors of much of the New Testament were not simply mistaken, but were liars who fooled their audiences deliberately.

Forged discusses the subject of pseudepigraphy—the writing of books under false names—in the first few centuries after the death of Christ. Ehrman claims that as much as 75 percent of the New Testament falls into this category. He claims some of these books, like the canonical Gospels, were published anonymously and had the author’s names attached at a later date. The ones with which he takes issue are those which scholars believe to be forgeries. This category would include a wide range of compositions, such as the Gospel of Peter and the Gospel of Thomas, in addition to other gospels, epistles, and apocalypses written in the second century and beyond. Ehrman places six of the Pauline epistles (Ephesians, Colossians, 2 Thessalonians, 1-2 Timothy, and Titus) in this category along with other New Testament Epistles, including James, Jude, and the letters of Peter.

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Author and NT scholar Bart Ehrman. Ehrman’s writings over the last decade superficially appear to expose insurmountable problems with the New Testament. Conservative NT scholars such as Daniel Wallace, Richard Bauckha...

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