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35 of 40 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as new as it seems, 11 Jan 2010
This review is from: Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (and Why We Don't Know about Them) (Hardcover)
Ehrman has written a series of books, bringing to light the apocryphal works, the history of the formation of the New Testament, and now the contradictions in the biblical texts. For most readers this will be material that is new to them, and it is to some extent it is the Churches' fault that it is little known. (To some extent it is resistance from the "people in the pew" to having their preconceptions challenged, as when one explains from the pulpit that at Epiphany there were not three Kings but an unspecified number of magi or wise men, and promptly one gets complaints that you are upsetting people's faith.)
What Ehrman is less upfront about is that this knowledge is hardly new. Christians have been puzzling over these texts for hundreds of years - are we really expected to believe they've only just noticed the discrepancies? Similarly, are we really expected to think that the Jewish commentators on the Tanakh (the Hebrew Bible) never noticed these issues?
Actually, the Bible itself shows that some of the Old Testament writers were aware of the conflicts between the texts they were expanding. To take two just examples: in 1 Kings 15.5 there is a passage praising King David, but this is inconsistent with the story of his treatment of Uriah the Hittite, so a scribe added a qualification to 1 Kings 15 "except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite". Then Exodus and Deuteronomy disagree on how to cook the passover meal: Exodus 12.9 says it must be roasted, Deuteronomy 16.7 that it must be boiled. So the writer of 2 Chronicles tries to reconcile the two by talking of boiling the meat in fire - something rather difficult to do.
The finest example of analyzing the difficulties of the creation stories of Genesis is to this day still provided by Saint Augustine's works on the subject, particularly his "On the literal interpretation of Genesis", which takes the stories apart virtually word by word, and demonstrates how the accounts cannot be literal as we understand them, but are still spiritually useful. Augustine lived from 385 to 430AD, a little matter of 1600 years ago.
Examples abound in the Fathers (the early major Christian writers from the 3rd century onwards) of mentions of these problems.
As to the growth of the New Testament, a writer called Papias at the end of the first century collected the reminiscences of those who had known the apostles. His work is now only known from quotations, but it is from him that we learn that the Gospel of Mark was held to be based on Peter's memories, and that of John on the memories of John. Since he was writing no more than a generation at most after the gospels were written, it is important evidence.
This doesn't take away from what Ehrman says, but he hasn't discovered this material, nor is he the first to write about it. He is a populariser, and a good one, but a populariser none the less.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 2 Apr 2010 05:43:31 BDT
Last edited by the author on 2 Apr 2010 05:44:17 BDT
Ehrman does not claim to have "discovered" the material. He goes out of his way to emphasise that the facts have been available for a long time, but that most Christians simply don't know them. Thsat is hardly surprising, as most people, Christian or otherwise, don't know much of anything.

Posted on 24 Sep 2010 12:26:34 BDT
Kodanshi says:
He is indeed not the discoverer of this material. However, he REPEATEDLY states as much throughout the book. In fact, I have read a lot of such biblical scholarship, and his proclamations that others agreed on this began to grate on me. "Yes, yes, I know. Get ON with it!"

Not a valid criticism, I submit.

In reply to an earlier post on 22 Jan 2011 10:58:50 GMT
A. McGuire says:
What I actually said was that he is "less upfront" about this material already being known, and I think that's fair as a comment on his writings overall. I didn't say that he claims to have discovered the material; but his writing sometimes gives that impression.
I totally agree with the "Get ON with it!" remark.
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