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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good for Christians, 4 Feb. 2014
E. Clarke "Cambusken" (Glasgow, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Forgery and Counter-forgery: The Use of Literary Deceit in Early Christian Polemics (Hardcover)
What impressed me most about this book is the detailed and imaginative scholarship. Ehrman has consulted a massive range of source materials and secondary commentaries. He makes a precise definition of "forgery" and deals only with those which meet his exacting criterion, but they include all the letters of the the New Testament apart from a few authentic Pauline epistles. Mostly, the forgeries are non-canonical texts. He shows that they were forged largely for polemical (often anti-semitic or anti-heretical) or apologetic (making Christians respectable to Romans) purposes and dismisses easily any suggestion that they were written by "secretaries" or loyal followers in an accepted tradition of "ghost writing". These writers knew they were engaged in deception (as the only one whose voice we hear clearly admits) but thought they were doing so in a greater cause. That deception was sometimes good was accepted by all pagans and most Christians (otherwise Augustine would not have needed to write a huge polemic against lying directed at Christians). The detail is fascinating (though alas I could not read the Greek quotations without translation!). He probably overstates his case (with regard to the Acts of the Apostles, for example) but no-one can seriously doubt that "forgery and counter-forgery" (forgeries created to rebut forgeries) were defining forces shaping the proto-orthodox Church. It is also a delight to read (despite occassional editorial lapses).
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Forgery and Counter-forgery: The Use of Literary Deceit in Early Christian Polemics
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