Writing In The Name Of God
My version: Hardback
Genre: Non Fiction, Bible
Publisher: Harper One
First published: 2011
From the cover:
Bart D. Ehrman, the New York Times bestselling author of Jesus, Interrupted and God’s Problem reveals which books in the New Testament were not passed down by Jesus’ disciples, but were instead forged by other hands–and why this centuries-hidden scandal is far more significant than many scholars are willing to admit. A controversial work of historical reporting in the tradition of Elaine Pagels, Marcus Borg, and John Dominic Crossan, Ehrman’s Forged delivers a stunning explication of one of the most substantial–yet least discussed–problems confronting the world of biblical scholarship.
When I first got reading Bart D. Ehrman, well, before I started to be more obviously accurate, I feared, given his early background, that he was covering for the fact that he was going to be, well, less than as objective as I was looking for, shall we say. I needn’t have been concerned.
He is objective in the extreme, really rather satisfyingly so. Obviously it goes without saying, that he knows his stuff inside out, then is able to put his points across in an understandable and meaningful way. I imaginer Christians don’t share my reasoning, but he really says nothing that a reasonable, intelligent person could argue with, and that’s the point. In this area, you really have to cross every t and dot every i, twice, from all directions, all your ducks have to be synchronised in their lines, because any slight chink and the critics will wedge it open and dismiss the whole argument.
Here, we’re looking at who wrote the books we use as the Gospels and other early writings on Christianity that have lasted until today. Or really, who didn’t write them as who actually put the pen to papyrus in the first versions, can never be known, if you’re not a Southern Baptist. It looks at how the ancient world viewed books written and attributed to ‘famous’ people, what the thoughts of possible readers of the books, were. Did it matter to them that it clearly could not have been written by who was supposed to have written it? Did that make the contents invalid? Did it matter who was first to put the words down? That seems to have been an opinion holding sway, until…our Bart comes on the scene and argues here that it did matter, and would have mattered back then. He is saying that the ‘problem’ of the books of the bible not being written by the people Christians think they were, is not one to be pleasantly concealed by words like “pseudepigraphs.” Doesn’t sound too bad, does it that? Not to Bart D. He thinks we should be open and call them for what they are, “forgery“. If I remember right, he is saying that eleven of the 27 (?) books in the current Bible, are forgeries, using inconsistencies, logic and reason to bamboozle Christians. I like that.
It is an excellent book. Provocative, if you are easily provoked, inspiring if you’re an otherwise intelligent human being.