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63 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truth will triumph
Faith is a profoundly emotional issue with its own dynamics as Eric Hoffer makes clear in The True Believer, a seminal study on the nature of belief and mass movements. Another valid insight is that of the metaphysician Ernest Holmes who warned against destroying or undermining a person's faith if it gives them comfort and helps them seek what is good and right: "Every...
Published on 9 April 2011 by Pieter Uys

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15 of 48 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Same ole, same ole.
Once again Ehrman ploughs the same old furrow, and once again he has NOTHING of any significance to say.

In the first place because many of the passages he gets so excited about are clear marked as questionable in any reputable Bible, and have been for a long time. In fact most Bibles are MORE accurate than Ehrman on these matters.

For example,...
Published on 13 Dec 2011 by Kriss Mascard


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63 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truth will triumph, 9 April 2011
By 
Pieter Uys "Toypom" (Johannesburg) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Forged: Writing in the Name of God--Why the Bible's Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are (Hardcover)
Faith is a profoundly emotional issue with its own dynamics as Eric Hoffer makes clear in The True Believer, a seminal study on the nature of belief and mass movements. Another valid insight is that of the metaphysician Ernest Holmes who warned against destroying or undermining a person's faith if it gives them comfort and helps them seek what is good and right: "Every person's religion is an answer to the cry of the soul for something which is real, something which may be relied upon - a resting place for which everyone instinctively feels a need."

Thus, the pursuit of truth may be a perilous enterprise that leads to painful places. Giving up certainties takes courage. In this investigation, Ehrman approaches the subject with empathy. Both non-canonical works and those eventually included in the New Testament are subjected to scrutiny. That is appropriate since when these were written, no canon existed.

It is no secret to most scholars in the field: Many of the books of the New Testament were composed by authors who lied about their identities, deliberately impersonating famous characters such as Peter, Paul and James. That is deception; a book written by someone who lies about his identity is a forgery.

In order to avoid this harsh reality, most Christian theologians employ the word "pseudepigrapha" when referring to these forgeries. Yet the word literally means "writing inscribed with a lie." Scholars may claim that it was an acceptable practice in the ancient world to write a book in someone else's name. Not so: the author cites Polybius, Martial and Diogenes Laertius in this regard.

Only 7 of the 13 letters of Paul of Tarsus were written by him. In the ancient world, books like that were called "pseudoi" (lies). Yes, it matters today, since for example 1 Timothy justifies the subordination of women.

Chapter One investigates forgeries in general, recent and ancient. Interestingly, the condemnation of forgeries in the texts appears to be a prominent feature of forged books. Good examples are Ephesians and 2 Thessalonians. This corresponds with Paul of Tarsus' repeated assertions that he "is telling the truth, not lying," if indeed it was him who wrote those words.

The next chapter is devoted to forgeries in the name of Peter. Ehrman points out that both truth and falsehood assume different forms. Evidence is produced that the Epistles of Peter could not have been written by him, another fact acknowledged by scholars.

The opening passages of the third chapter deals with invented tales about Paul. After that, New Testament forgeries ascribed to the founder of Christianity are identified by means of word frequency and semantics. Amongst the books discussed are Thessalonians, Ephesians and Colossians.

In chapter 4, Ehrman proves that forgery was as unacceptable in the ancient world as it is today. Ancient sources condemn the practice, meaning that the excuses offered by modern scholars are themselves deceitful.

The following two chapters consider extracanonical forgeries that derive from Gnostic and Jewish-Christian controversies. The most thought-provoking analysis of canonical are those of Colossians, Jude, James, the Epistles of Paul and the Acts of the Apostles.

Chapter 7 examines various phenomena pertaining to forgery such as false attributions, fabrications, falsifications, plagiarism and interpolations. Mark, Luke and the Acts are used as examples. There is no doubt that some Christians employed all the aforementioned practices in a wildly successful campaign to promote their version of the faith. A particular dogma was promoted through deceptive means - a most disturbing irony.

In chapter 8, Ehrman explains how successful ancient and modern forgeries have been in persuading large numbers of people of their authenticity. This chapter concludes with a discussion of attitudes towards deception and its motives. The justification of forgeries on any grounds goes against a cardinal moral principle. One rule exists for all. Forgeries by Christians are unacceptable.

In certain books, specifically the Gospel of John, scribes added key passages at different times. After Christianity sought the approval of the Roman Empire, writings were forged to absolve the Romans of the murder and to accuse the Jews of deicide. Such accounts are filled with anti-Semitic stereotypes of malevolent Jews as "Christ-killers."

As Judith Taylor Gold demonstrates in Madonnas & Monsters, anti-Semitism appears in both overt and covert form in the Gospel of John, a book that is exceptionally hostile to Judaism. The teachings and personality of Jesus in the Gospel of John differs so radically from those in the three Synoptic Gospels that prominent theologians have been claiming - since the 1800s - that only one of the two traditions can be true; it is impossible that both can be.

Raymond E Brown provides a brief synopsis of a prominent theory on the development of this gospel, identifying three levels in the text: (a) An original narrative of someone personally acquainted with Jesus/Yeshua (b) A Structured literary creation by an editor that draws from other sources (c) An attempt to harmonize the text with the rest of the New Testament canon.

There are further troubling realities not specifically addressed by Ehrman in this book. The NT writers "quote" Hebrew scripture passages that do not exist, quote already fulfilled Hebrew prophecies to claim that NT events are their fulfillment, quote 50 - 60 OT passages as proof of fulfilled messianic prophecies while none of those is a prophecy at all.

The criteria for the validation of scripture include origin, transmission, internal marks of authority and consistency. The text of the Hebrew Bible was rigorously preserved and reproduced under strict supervision, resulting in only minor variations, while there are scores of textual variants for the NT as proved by inter alia Ehrman in Misquoting Jesus.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Research, 16 Sep 2011
By 
Mrs. V. Acuff (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Forged: Writing in the Name of God--Why the Bible's Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are (Hardcover)
Bart Ehrman lived up to my expectations once again. This book is well researched and sheds light on who did or did not write certain books of the Bible and how this book came to us down through history. As a student and teacher of the Bible for almost 65 years I would encourage the reader to shed preconceived cultural indoctrination and look at the facts as the author presents them. Many of the beliefs we hold today are based on the writings of unknown authors and need closer examination.
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44 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Christians telling lies to get what they want?, 26 April 2011
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This review is from: Forged: Writing in the Name of God--Why the Bible's Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are (Hardcover)
Bart Ehrman is a biblical scholar with a knack for shaping a wealth of learning into a form that's accessible to the lay reader. In this fascinating book, he concentrates on the part forgery played in the early church, arriving at a startling conclusion: from the first to the twenty-first centuries, "Christians intent on establishing what was right to believe did so by telling lies, in an attempt to deceive their readers into agreeing that they were the ones who spoke the truth". In short, throughout history, Christians "have seen fit to fabricate, falsify, and forge documents" in the name of their religion.

Ehrman acknowledges that this will sound odd to many, believers and non-believers alike. After all, this is a religion with a reputation for possessing not just the truth, but the Truth. In contrast with other ancient religions (more interested in proper practices than whether or not their beliefs were true), the "Christian religion came to be firmly rooted in truth claims, which were eventually embedded in highly ritualized formulations, such as the Nicene Creed" and "Christians from the very beginning needed to appeal to authorities for what they believed". If Jesus said it, if Paul said it, if James said it, that was enough to settle the matter in hand. If you wanted your views to carry more weight, put them in a document and attach the name of an established authority (producing books in the name of Peter, for example, "was a virtual cottage industry in the early church"). In other words, forgery (pseudepigraphal writing "in which an author knowingly claims to be someone else") was far from unusual, and we know of over a hundred writings "from the first four centuries that were claimed by one Christian author or another to have been forged by fellow Christians".

Ehrman's own personal journey is one few true believers make. At Moody Bible Institute, he began his evangelical studies with a firm belief in the objective truth of Christianity. Eventually, however, he realized that the discrepancies in the Bible could not be objectively reconciled, that the Bible contained errors, and also "what almost anyone today would call lies".

He begins this book with an overview of authorship in the ancient world, emphasizing the fact that the moral norms surrounding pseudepigraphy were the same then as now: forgeries were condemned whenever they were discovered. This is important, since some scholars argue, for example, that "the people who forged the New Testament letters of, say, Peter and Paul had no 'intention to deceive' and did not 'not in fact' deceive anyone". So, how come "everyone (for many, many centuries) was in fact deceived"? "For seventeen hundred years, everyone who read these letters thought that Peter and Paul wrote them." It is salutary to see how intellectual integrity can be compromised by religious belief. Certain scholars will leap through hoops to avoid calling a spade a spade, imagining without any evidence that pseudepigraphy was practiced "as an act of humility". Ehrman suggests "that scholars have latched onto this idea because it gives them a way of talking about what happened in the literary tradition of early Christianity without saying that early Christian authors were guilty of forgery".

Despite this reluctance, it is clear that there are forgeries in both the Old and the New Testaments. For example, the Pauline writings Ephesians, Colossians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy and Titus were all forged in his name by supporters with a particular theological axe to grind. "These pseudonymous authors obviously felt that Paul's authority could prove persuasive in the context of the various controversies and struggles the Christian community was encountering." Then, as now, many of the most bitter disputes were within Christian communities. One reason Paul wrote to the Corinthians was that their church was in a mess - there "were divisions and episodes of infighting, some members were taking others to civil court, the worship services were chaos, and there were harsh disagreements over major ethical issues" - and they needed pulling into line.

For good measure, letters from Paul to Seneca were also forged. These "fulfilled an apologetic role in showing that, far from being a backwater religion of lower-class peasants, Christianity from the outset was a highly respectable philosophical tradition". So highly respected that the "greatest Roman philosopher of the first century revered the apostle Paul and praised his uncanny insights".

One of the "tricks" used by ancient forgers to assure readers that their own writings were authentic was to warn against writings that were not authentic. "Readers naturally assume that the author is not doing precisely what he condemns." Perhaps more striking is that the author of Ephesians also tells his readers to fasten "the belt of truth" around their waist. "Truth was important for this writer... How ironic, then, that the author has deceived his readers about his own identity. The book was written pseudonymously in the name of Paul by someone who knew full well that he was not Paul. Falsely claiming to be an impeccable Christian authority, this advocate for truth produced a pseudepigraphon..."

In all these battles, the full armour of God included weapons of deceit. Forgery was used "to fend off the attacks of Jews and pagans and to assault the views of other Christians who had alternative, aberrant understandings of the faith". Other weapons included falsification of the text and wholesale fabrication. Scribes not only altered what they were copying, but occasionally added new material. The story of the woman taken in adultery is one such example. The non-canonical Gospel of Peter is a fabrication - a "made-up story that tries to pass itself off as historical" - as well as a forgery.

If Christianity were as defunct as the worship of Zeus, this kind of research might be of limited interest. That Christians are not only still around but continue to profess both an interest in the truth and in moral virtue make this knowledge vitally important. Christians will no doubt find it uncomfortable, as Ehrman did, to face up to the fact that the Bible contains lies. The hope is, like Ehrman, they will respect reason, evidence, objectivity and truth more than deception.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing, simply amazing, 25 July 2013
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This review is from: Forged: Writing in the Name of God--Why the Bible's Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are (Hardcover)
This book would be the top of my list of recommendations to anyone who shares my literary interests. The author provides very accurate and educational information about the writing/compiling of gospels back in their heyday and the illicit forgery that came with it. I think Ehrman really hit the nail on this one and I would find it would be nigh impossible to claim that this book's premises are wrong. Simply said, the author makes a claim based on objective study without relying too much on what subjective scholars have said about biblical forgeries. He pushed the envelope and surely enough, the envelope has budged. Great read, very accurate and well-oraganised.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, 27 April 2013
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Fascinating and informative to the point of being shocking - even to an aged sceptic like myself. Clear and readable prose; well argued and equally well evidenced insofar as I, a non-expert, could judge.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Information for the Christian indocrinated, 18 May 2014
By 
Mike Mancott (Gloucestershire UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Forged: Writing in the Name of God--Why the Bible's Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are (Hardcover)
Bart reveals the information which the Christian indocrinated believer needs to know. They don`t have to agree, but it`s a compelling reveal of what is written in the New Testament and by whom, or possibly a don`t know answer.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Informative and emjoyable., 23 April 2014
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Critic (Athens Greece) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Forged: Writing in the Name of God--Why the Bible's Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are (Hardcover)
Very informative about early christianity. The author undercovers many forgeries indeed. Only objection, I can't see the reason why to take the existance of the apostles for granted. Especially when forgeries were so common.
Overall a well written and enjoyable book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars An exercise in reality for anyone who is open to learning., 8 Jan 2014
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Excellent. Full of information which is virtually unknown and which presents an opportunity to cut through our standard thinking. Like the author's other books, it should serve to expand one's interest in trying to sort out reality from legend.
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10 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Jesus Christ conundrum solved, 24 Jun 2011
By 
M. G. KETTERIDGE (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Forged: Writing in the Name of God--Why the Bible's Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are (Hardcover)
An excellently researched book from a great authority on the New Testament.
Together with another book,Burton L Mack's The Lost Gospel: The Book of Q & Christian Origins, and "Forged", I was able, once and for all, to sort out for myself the Jesus Christ conundrum.
How could it be that such an influential organization such as the Christian Church (all be it with all its internal differences) have come about, if the Gospels are not historic but only mythical?
Bart D Ehrman's "Forged" goes along way to explain this while convincingly insisting that there was in fact an historical character who unwittingly started it all.
Bart D Ehrman's "Forged", along with Burton L Mack's The Lost Gospel: The Book of Q & Christian Origins which sets out the original Q Gospel, you too might be set free from the puzzlement experienced in trying to have, as Mark Twain put it "faith in believing what you know ain't so".
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Read, 9 April 2013
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This review is from: Forged: Writing in the Name of God--Why the Bible's Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are (Hardcover)
An interesting take on past bible history.

Some people are aware that it is mainly a forged piece of history, very contradictory in a lot of places.

It's the principle that Jesus stood for which is the main symbolism of the writings.

A cracking read
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