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Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why (Plus) [Paperback]

Bart D. Ehrman
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
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Book Description

6 Feb 2007 Plus

For almost 1,500 years, the New Testament manuscripts were copied by hand––and mistakes and intentional changes abound in the competing manuscript versions. Religious and biblical scholar Bart Ehrman makes the provocative case that many of our widely held beliefs concerning the divinity of Jesus, the Trinity, and the divine origins of the Bible itself are the results of both intentional and accidental alterations by scribes.

In this compelling and fascinating book, Ehrman shows where and why changes were made in our earliest surviving manuscripts, explaining for the first time how the many variations of our cherished biblical stories came to be, and why only certain versions of the stories qualify for publication in the Bibles we read today. Ehrman frames his account with personal reflections on how his study of the Greek manuscripts made him abandon his once ultra–conservative views of the Bible.


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Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why (Plus) + Jesus Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (and Why We Don't Know About Them) + Lost Scriptures: Books that Did Not Make It into the New Testament
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Product details

  • Paperback: 242 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne; Reprint edition (6 Feb 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060859512
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060859510
  • Product Dimensions: 20.4 x 13.7 x 1.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 235,174 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.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
108 of 114 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 99% perspiration 16 Oct 2007
By calmly
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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47 of 51 people found the following review helpful
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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50 of 55 people found the following review helpful
By Sphex
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
There's a joke about a new monk at a scriptorium innocently asking an older monk about a particular word. The old monk has been happily copying from copies for years, but humours the novice by going into the cellar to check the original. Hours go by and nobody sees him. Eventually, they hear sobbing and descend to find the old monk slumped over the original text. They ask what's wrong, and in a choked voice he replies, "The word is celebrate."

Many Christians throughout history have believed that "the Bible is the inerrant word of God" and that it "contains no mistakes". Even if that were true, in the sense that the original words were inspired by God, the problem is, we no longer have those words. In this brilliant book, Bart Ehrman explains why - unlike in the joke - checking the Bible against the originals will forever remain a fantasy. He explores the many ways in which changes have been introduced, gives a crash course in textual criticism, and arrives at the startling conclusion that "the translations available to most English readers are based on the wrong text".

We are so used to the printed word and the reliability of modern mass manufacturing that we usually ignore the processes by which the spoken word or a writer's thoughts come to be recorded on the page. Occasionally, we may notice a typo, but that rarely interferes with meaning. Our strong impression is that, while we might not agree with the message, we can trust the medium. This trust, however, proves to be spectacularly misplaced when it comes to the ancient collection of texts known as the Bible.

Whatever you believe about the historical figure of Jesus and the existence of the Christian or any other god, someone, somewhere, wrote down for the first time the story of, say, the wedding at Cana.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as overwhelming as the title suggests 27 May 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As a former-evangelical who's faith has cooled somewhat - much like Ehrman himself, though for different reasons - I thought this would be a useful book to get a more rounded view on why the Bible is a product of men rather than God. I finished feeling rather underwhelmed.

For one thing, Ehrman makes what I think is a chief error at the outset by labeling Christianity a "religion of the book". Having studied church history in some depth, I think this is highly incorrect; Christianity did not become a religion of the book until Martin Luther proclaimed "sola scriptura" as the final authority of faith. Until then, apostolic tradition was a co-equal force in determining orthodoxy, and was appealed to by the "proto-orthodox" writers at least as much as scripture.

Secondly, on a related note, Ehrman seems to think he's really pulling the rug out from under Christianity by highlighting textual variants in the manuscripts. Actually, the only faith that is having the rug pulled from under it is the kind of fundamentalist Christianity that tried to sift through the text with a fine-tooth comb and squeeze implausible amounts of significance out of specific wordings - the kind of Christianity that things we can know what the "middle verse of the Bible is". For most sensible brands of Christianity, Ehrman's revelations will scarcely be troubling; especially the Catholic and Orthodox churches which continue to recognise Tradition as a vehicle of revelation.

Thirdly, I must complain that Ehrman seems to repeat the fundamentals of his case infuriatingly often.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars opps
I purchased this book along with 'Whose word is it" thinking it was another book by the same author. It is an earlier version with some small changes.
Published 1 month ago by Hugh R Hill
3.0 out of 5 stars Vistas on important subjects
Ehrman has given accessible vistas in this book on the specialist field of text criticism and the world of early Christian communities. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Dr David J Bryan
3.0 out of 5 stars Well written beginners level book on textual criticism!
Well written and an interesting read but it didn't tell me anything I didn't know already. It's worth reading for anyone who knows nothing about textual criticism as it is not an... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Kevin J.L
5.0 out of 5 stars Approachably written scholarship
Not just a rehash of "the Orthodox Corruption of Scripture" in a more accessible form, this ranges much further and makes the processes of transmission of scripture... Read more
Published 12 months ago by xrseyre
3.0 out of 5 stars Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why
I would never have thought that the subject of textual analysis could have been made interesting, but Ehrman just about pulls this off. Read more
Published 14 months ago by daisycow
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting.
This book is about how some of the words of Scripture have been changed or removed over the centuries through scribal errors etc. Interesting book.
Published 17 months ago by J. Swales
4.0 out of 5 stars Introduction to New Testament textual criticism
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. Read more
Published 21 months ago by h20man
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting read
This book looks at the changes that have occurred in the bible and the reasons for these changes. I enjoyed reading this book. Read more
Published on 26 Jun 2012 by Davidsha
5.0 out of 5 stars Unbiased and well researched.
Mark 16 vs 17 says, "And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their... Read more
Published on 24 Jun 2012 by S. Oberauer
1.0 out of 5 stars An unsatisfactory book
[I refer to the HarperOne first edition, paperback, 2005.] There is a fundamental problem with Ehrman's book. Read more
Published on 9 Jun 2012 by trini
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