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Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why Hardcover – Nov 2005

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 242 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne; First Edition edition (Nov. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060738170
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060738174
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.3 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 497,089 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Bart D. Ehrman is the author of more than twenty books, including the New York Times bestselling Misquoting Jesus and God's Problem. Ehrman is the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and is a leading authority on the Bible and the life of Jesus. He has been featured in Time and has appeared on Dateline NBC, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, CNN, the History Channel, major NPR shows, and other top media outlets. He lives in Durham, N.C.

Inside This Book

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First Sentence
More than almost anything I've ever written about, the subject of this book has been on my mind for the past thirty years, since I was in my late teens and just beginning my study of the New Testament. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

110 of 116 people found the following review helpful By calmly on 16 Oct. 2007
Format: Paperback
Ehrman's "The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture" covers similar ground but seems addressed primarily to scholars. This popular presentation is not only considerably more readable for the lay reader but has a superb, open introduction by Ehrman in which he details his path from a born-again believer to the mature scholar he is today, who appreciates the Bible but sees it as the work of human beings who may "... have to figure out how to live and what to believe on our own, without setting the Bible up as a false idol ..." Strong words indeed and a challenge to those who have not yet read this book or, having read it, remain unable to accept even the factual aspects of Ehrman's presentation.

Ehrman explains textual criticism for lay people with examples. He exposes the problem that the present versions of the Bible have: besides having been copied over centuries and translated, they are derived from multiple differing versions, such that even scholars don't know in places what the original words of the Bible were.

Ehrman, since his youth, has had a deep and authentic interest in how the Bible came down to us. You may disagree with him in part or even whole as to his speculations but he's made a gifted and sincere effort to share with you what he has learned. He's no salesman. If you read it with an open mind, you may never regard the Bible in the same way again.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By h20man on 20 Oct. 2012
Format: Hardcover
Despite the provocative title, this book is for the most part simply an easy to read introduction to the field of New Testament textual criticism. It provides a fascinating account of the history of the New Testament, including a detailed explanation of why there are variants between the ancient New Testament manuscripts, and the methods used by scholars today to determine which of these are the most likely to be the original text.

The introduction provides Ehrman's own story, of how he became a "born again" Christian at high school, and adopted the belief that the bible is the "inerrant word of God." Ehrman's study of textual criticism challenged this view, however, and his understanding of the bible and his beliefs have changed as a result.

Chapters 1 - 3 outline the broad history of the New Testament, and raise the primary problem this book is concerned with: that the scribes who made the earliest copies of the New Testament texts were usually untrained, and as a result they made numerous mistakes and alterations. As a result there are literally tens of thousands of variations that exist between the surviving manuscripts we have today.

Chapters 4-5 describe the effort of scholars, from the early 1700's onwards, to develop methods of reconstructing the original text of the New Testament. Today scholars consider a range of arguments to support the selection of one text over another, including both external evidence (evidence relating to the reliability of the manuscripts) and internal evidence (evidence relating to the variants themselves).

Chapters 6 and 7 focus on the relationship between the history of the early church, and the intentional changes made by scribes to the New Testament texts.
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48 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Brian Griffith on 23 Sept. 2007
Format: Paperback
Ehrman believes the history of our great stories matters. And his exploration of the New Testament's evolution is an enormous accomplishment. This is a work building on hundreds of years of research, for example, Stephanus's 1550 translation with marginal notes identifying variations between 14 different ancient Greek manuscripts. Or John Mill's 1707 comparison of over 100 Greek manuscripts to show 30,000 points of difference. And Ehrman's data base includes over 5,700 manuscripts in Greek alone, which yield a total of between 200,000 to 400,000 varients among them.

While comparing manuscripts, Ehrman gives us a parallel history of arguments and riposts among scholarly egos, making this a fascinating human story. We have, for example, the French Catholic scholar Richard Simon who in 1689 produced "A Critical History of the Text of the New Testament", giving a partisan blast at Protestant rejection of Church tradition in favor of reliance on scripture alone:

"The great changes that have taken place in the manuscripts of the Bible ... since the first originals were lost, completely destroy the principle of the Protestants ..., who consult only these same manuscripts of the Bible in the form they are today. If the truth of religion had not lived on in the Church, it would not be safe to look for it now in books that have been subjected to so many changes and that in so many matters were dependent on the will of the copyists."

Do all these differences among ancient hand-copied versions of the Bible make any difference? Ehrman shows thay do at many important points -- concerning Jesus, women, Jews, leadership, and more. And that's the really good part. I think this book is a big step forward in separating wheat from chaff in the scriptures.

--author of Correcting Jesus: 2000 Years of Changing the Story
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mystery Man on 9 Oct. 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a born again, Bible-believing Christian this has certainly given me food for thought. I see Ehrman is a scholar who has attempted (more or less) to deal honestly and scientifically with the text.

I have learned a great deal about the problems of textual criticism, and it was fun to read how early scribes may have altered the text in such a way that our modern reading has been affected by it. And how modern scholarship is attempting to recover the originals.

But it's the "more or less" that I have problems with. It is clear that Erhman has a slant, an agenda. I do not mean this in a derogatory fashion. We all have our slants and our agendas. And this has coloured his opinions. There were parts of the text where I really felt he was stretching it. It's hard to remember all of the areas i felt he was doing this, but just this morning I finished up the last chapter where he delves into the anti-Semitic reasons as to why early scribes may have changed the text. He speaks with such certainty, but like so much in this field his opinions are only conjecture. Perhaps very good and logical, but sitting there reading I was able to come up with other possible scenarios (using the principles he gives) as to why the text may have changed.

Ehrman tries to portray himself as a disinterested scholar, but it is clear he dislikes Christianity even though he has given his life to the study of it. That's fine. But one should be aware that this will affect the way one looks at the evidence and how one interprets it.

I believe Christianity is primarily about a relationship with Jesus Christ, which is why I am not too bothered by the idea that textual variants have appeared in the manuscripts. Fundamentalistic religion balks at the idea and squirms around it, but the Word is a Person, not ink on a page.
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