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The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture: The Effect of Early Christological Controversies on the Text of the New Testament Paperback – 8 Jul 2011

4.3 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, U.S.A.; Updated ed. edition (8 July 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199739781
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199739783
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 3 x 15.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 795,140 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

Review

a fine summary of Ehrman's developed thinking and concerns, and as such a valuable contribution to the general discourse on the aims, methods, and limitations of textual criticism. (Dirk Jongkind, Churchman)

About the Author

Bart Ehrman is James A. Gray Professor and Chair of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and the author of two dozen books in the fields of New Testament and Early Christianity.


Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Ehrman lays out with admirable clarity and directness his thesis: that scribes of the faction of early Christianity which eventually became the dominant one (which has in hindsight been dubbed "orthodox") in the course of its conflicts with the other factions (now called the "heretics") massaged particular scriptural passages as they copied them to either: 1) provide proof-texts for orthodox Christology; or 2) neutralize potential proof-texts for the heretics. My acquaintance with the mechanics of "textual criticism" was only slight before reading this book, but the reasoning and method are so lucid that I've had no difficulty learning a great deal simply by watching Ehrman work. I've found it a surprisingly enjoyable read. It's probably a bit dry for most people's taste -- but if you didn't enjoy "dry" you probably wouldn't be looking at a book with this title anyway, would you?
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Format: Paperback
I haven't seen the scribes' copies of the New Testament which were compared for this book. I don't read Greek anyway. So that puts me at a severe disadvantage when it comes to judging Ehrman's findings. I trust to Bible scholars to verify Ehrman's accuracy. As to his selection, it seems he has presented a great many examples of changes in the texts that seem made during early Christianty to rule out heretical interpretations. It seems he has done an incredible amount of reading and comparing of these early texts.

There's a lot of scholarly details. Ehrman is sensitive to that: he recommends in the introduction that non-scholars may want to just read the beginning and conclusion of the four chapters that are very detailed. However, a lay reader could profit from reading everything.

Ehrman selected four significant heresies to focus on. Each has a chapter. Each of those chapters presents textual changes that would make sense if scribes were trying to avoid the heresy covered in that chapter. There is also a introductory chapter and a concluding chapter. I was surprised how many textual changes Ehrman was able to present in each chapter. Sometimes it wasn't clear to me how the change led to text less likely to support a heretical view, but many of the changes seem quite plausible. I didn't feel that Ehrman was pushing convenient interpretations on me; it seemed that the textual changes spoke for themselves. But I did appreciate the historical background Ehrman provides. He seems to have a good understanding of the various Gnostic Christian beliefs present during early Christianity.

Elaine Pagel's "The Gnostic Gospels" is a top down look at Christian Gnosticism, with a lot of her conclusions and some selected reference to details.
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Format: Paperback
This is a difficult book, written for real scholars of ancient Greek, Coptic and Latin texts. The work of writing it was like an archaeological mining operation through mounds of papyrus or parchment. Still, all the sifting and meticulous cross-comparison of handwritten manuscripts yields nuggets of evidence on the shaping of scripture over time. Ehrman finds patterns in the scribal alterations, usually toward conformity with an emerging orthodox doctrine about Christ. The Jewish-Christian references to Jesus as a man, the Gnostic depictions of him as a superhuman spirit, or "adoptionistic" descriptions of Jesus as a man who the holy spirit entered, all receive subtle "corrections" over time. Manuscript 2766, for example, shows an alteration from older versions of Luke 8:28, where "Jesus, Son of the Highest God" is shortened to "Jesus, the Highest God". Without scholarship like Ehrman's it would be far less clear which versions of such lines are most original.

This is arcane raw research, leading Ehrman toward his later books for a wider audience, such as the far more accessible Misquoting Jesus.

--author of Correcting Jesus: 2000 Years of Changing the Story
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