The Gospel According To Bart: A Review Article Of Misquoting Jesus By Bart Ehrman -- By: Daniel B. Wallace

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 49:2 (Jun 2006)
Article: The Gospel According To Bart: A Review Article Of Misquoting Jesus By Bart Ehrman
Author: Daniel B. Wallace

The Gospel According To Bart:
A Review Article Of Misquoting Jesus By Bart Ehrman

Daniel B. Wallace*

For most students of the NT, a book on textual criticism is a real yawn. The tedious details are not the stuff of a bestseller. But since its publication on November 1, 2005, Misquoting Jesus has been circling higher and higher toward the Amazon peak.1 And since Bart Ehrman, one of North America’s leading textual critics, appeared on two of NPR’s programs (the Diane Rehm Show and Fresh Air with Terry Gross)—both within the space of one week— it has been in the top fifty sellers at Amazon. Within three months, more than 100,000 copies were sold. When Neely Tucker’s interview of Ehrman in The Washington Post appeared on March 5 of this year, the sales of Ehrman’s book shot up still higher. Mr. Tucker spoke of Ehrman as a “fundamentalist scholar who peered so hard into the origins of Christianity that he lost his faith altogether.”2 Nine days later, Ehrman was the guest celebrity on Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show. Stewart said that seeing the Bible as something that was deliberately corrupted by orthodox scribes made the Bible “more interesting. .. almost more godly in some respects.” Stewart concluded the interview by stating, “I really congratulate you. It’s a helluva book!” Within 48 hours, Misquoting Jesus was perched on top of Amazon, if only for a moment. Two months later and it is still flying high, staying in the top 25 or so books. It “has become one of the unlikeliest bestsellers of the year.”3 Not bad for an academic tome on a “boring” topic!

Why all the hoopla? Well, for one thing, Jesus sells. But not the Jesus of the Bible. The Jesus that sells is the one that is palatable to postmodern man.

* Daniel Wallace is professor of New Testament studies and executive director of the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts at Dallas Theological Seminary, 3909 Swiss Ave., Dallas, TX 75204.

And with a book entitled Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why, a ready audience was created via the hope that there would be fresh evidence that the biblical Jesus is a figment. Ironically, almost none of the variants that Ehrman discusses involve sayings of Jesus. The book simply does not deliver what the title promises. Ehrman preferred Lost in Transmission, but the publisher thought such a book might be perceived by the Barnes and Noble crowd as dealing with stock car racing! Even though Ehrm...

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