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It is often said, even by critical scholars whoshould know better, that “writing in the nameof another” was widely accepted in antiquity.But New York Times bestselling author Bart D.Ehrman dares to call it what it was: literaryforgery, a practice that was as scandalous then as itis today. In Forged, Ehrman’s fresh and originalresearch takes readers back to the ancient world,where forgeries were used as weapons by unknownauthors to fend off attacks to their faith andestablish their church. So, if many of the books inthe Bible were not in fact written by Jesus’s innercircle—but by writers living decades later, withdiffering agendas in rival communities—whatdoes that do to the authority of Scripture?

Ehrman investigates ancient sources to:

  • Reveal which New Testament books wereoutright forgeries.
  • Explain how widely forgery was practiced byearly Christian writers—and how strongly it wascondemned in the ancient world as fraudulentand illicit.

  • Expose the deception in the history of theChristian religion.

Ehrman’s fascinating story of fraud and deceit isessential reading for anyone interested in the truthabout the Bible and the dubious origins ofChristianity’s sacred texts.

Topics: The Bible, Gospel, Rivals, War, Cynical, Provocative, Philosophical, Literary Criticism, and Essays

Published: HarperCollins on Mar 22, 2011
ISBN: 9780062078636
List price: $8.99
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First of all I have no academic degrees in Bible, nor do I understand Greek or Hebrew. I do think that his arguments in many cases reach for the possibility that the book/letter in question is forged unnecessarily. I would advocate taking a similar principle of the Supreme Court (US) and not reaching for that conclusion unless all other reasonable options that are applicable are exhausted. This is particularly the case if a surface reading of the text leads one to think that the texts in question conflict doctrinally with one another. Also, I think at times he appears to talk to generally about the scholarship in this area, as opposed to dealing more specifically with particular authors. For an example, when he states something like: Most scholars in this area would agree that ... with a minority saying that ... I would appreciate it if he cited and dealt with at least a briefly a few representative examples. After all, I have no way of knowing if he is building a straw-man argument and how do I know his summary of the current status of the literature on the subject is correct?read more
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I enjoyed this book. I always learn so much from his books.read more
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I've given this book one star because it doesn't even attempt to prove its subtitle. First, the majority of the material referred to was never considered part of the Bible and mostly comes from centuries later. Second, there isn't even any mention that the authors claimed to be writing in the name of God - even in the case of the New Testament writings that he rejects the authors don't claim divine authority in the sense of an Old Testament prophet. Third, if the Bible's authors aren't who we think they are, is that their fault or ours? The gospels never claim to have been written by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John so they certainly can't be forged. Given the title one would expect Ehrman to engage in interaction with other scholars showing why Peter didn't write 'his' letters, etc. However, he just refers to the general consensus of 'critical scholars' who presumably are those he is in agreement with. I guess those who accept Peter's authorship would be too conservative and those who reject Paul's authorship of Galatians, i.e. reject more than Ehrman, would be considered hypercritical.
Overall I also found the book poorly structured. The material is arranged categorically by reputed author. So Peter's biblical epistles are in the same chapter with gnostic documents from centuries later, etc. This really confuses the issue and combines material written across hundreds of years for very different purposes.
The purpose of this book would seem to be cast aspersion on the New Testament by demonstrating that its authors knowingly 'forged'='lied' by using someone else's name in order to convince others that their view of the Truth was the right one. I think a better title for this book would be "Forged: Writing in the Name of an Apostle - Why It is Always Wrong to Use Someone's Name, Even if We Think It's for a Good Cause."read more
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First of all I have no academic degrees in Bible, nor do I understand Greek or Hebrew. I do think that his arguments in many cases reach for the possibility that the book/letter in question is forged unnecessarily. I would advocate taking a similar principle of the Supreme Court (US) and not reaching for that conclusion unless all other reasonable options that are applicable are exhausted. This is particularly the case if a surface reading of the text leads one to think that the texts in question conflict doctrinally with one another. Also, I think at times he appears to talk to generally about the scholarship in this area, as opposed to dealing more specifically with particular authors. For an example, when he states something like: Most scholars in this area would agree that ... with a minority saying that ... I would appreciate it if he cited and dealt with at least a briefly a few representative examples. After all, I have no way of knowing if he is building a straw-man argument and how do I know his summary of the current status of the literature on the subject is correct?
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I enjoyed this book. I always learn so much from his books.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I've given this book one star because it doesn't even attempt to prove its subtitle. First, the majority of the material referred to was never considered part of the Bible and mostly comes from centuries later. Second, there isn't even any mention that the authors claimed to be writing in the name of God - even in the case of the New Testament writings that he rejects the authors don't claim divine authority in the sense of an Old Testament prophet. Third, if the Bible's authors aren't who we think they are, is that their fault or ours? The gospels never claim to have been written by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John so they certainly can't be forged. Given the title one would expect Ehrman to engage in interaction with other scholars showing why Peter didn't write 'his' letters, etc. However, he just refers to the general consensus of 'critical scholars' who presumably are those he is in agreement with. I guess those who accept Peter's authorship would be too conservative and those who reject Paul's authorship of Galatians, i.e. reject more than Ehrman, would be considered hypercritical.
Overall I also found the book poorly structured. The material is arranged categorically by reputed author. So Peter's biblical epistles are in the same chapter with gnostic documents from centuries later, etc. This really confuses the issue and combines material written across hundreds of years for very different purposes.
The purpose of this book would seem to be cast aspersion on the New Testament by demonstrating that its authors knowingly 'forged'='lied' by using someone else's name in order to convince others that their view of the Truth was the right one. I think a better title for this book would be "Forged: Writing in the Name of an Apostle - Why It is Always Wrong to Use Someone's Name, Even if We Think It's for a Good Cause."
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Most people accept that the New Testament was not necessarily written by the apostles but what makes university professor and former fundamental Christian Bart Ehrman’s book Forged so engaging is the entertaining quality of his writing. Pseudo epigraphy refers to works written under a false name: this consists of wrongly attributed anonymous writings, and to deliberate forgeries: it is to the later category Ehrman relegates the letters credited to Peter, whom he claims was illiterate. He also claims six of the epistles of St Paul are forgeries and that despite it being proved fraudulent, the Catholic Church still uses the First Book of Timothy as the scriptural basis for her exclusion of women from the priesthood. A somewhat controversial but really interesting read.
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Find Ehrman consistently thoughtful and persuasive across all of his books I have read - this one is no exception.
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Note: I am not a scholar of the New Testament or early Christianity. Nor am I in any way invested in the "truth" of the Gospel. This review is written from the perspective of an interested amateur.Ehrman, in Forged, argues that the Gospels, among other New Testament and ancient Christian texts, are forgeries. Simply put, the Gospels were not written by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John; nor were certain of the epistles attributed to Paul really authored by the apostle. Rather, these texts were written by other Christians using the names of their more famous counterparts in order to "prove" the "truth" of their historical or theological beliefs. I don't take issue with Ehrman's claims; I think it unlikely that the Gospels were written by the disciples/apostles (I am not an expert with the terminology) to whom they're attributed. Jesus' earliest followers, after all, were socioeconomically similar to himself: Illiterate Jewish peasants. They lacked the knowledge necessary to produce sophisticated texts in Greek. (Ehrman notes that the Gospels themselves were at first anonymous, but attributes that to the fact that the authors were known to the communities for which they were writing. Thus, when other names were falsely attributed to the Gospels, it was for the purpose of deception: To lend further authority to the viewpoints espoused by them.)What is problematic for me is Ehrman's methodology. Ehrman's argument is based almost exclusively on textual analysis. (As are most works in the social sciences and humanities.) That in and of itself is not a problem. When Ehrman points out that a text couldn't have been written by an author because that author was almost certainly dead by the time it was written, I accept that. Likewise with the argument regarding the illiteracy of their supposed authors. I have trouble accepting Ehrman's other arguments: Evidence that texts are forged is to be found in their style and viewpoints.I have no knowledge of Greek, but I am leery of his use of "style" of evidence of forgery. Certainly in can be done. But arguing that a particular book is a forgery because it doesn't match the style of other books known to be by an author (e.g., Paul), or part of a book, a few verses, for instance, are forged because they don't match the style of the rest of the book, is more difficult for me to accept. People are inconsistent. Styles change. An author writing one text now and another ten years from now might appear to be a different author. Or, as Ehrman himself notes, scribes sometimes altered texts. Is it not possible that the copies of the texts we have are so altered? That they added bits and pieces and their own flourishes to the texts with which they worked?Ehrman repeatedly states that forgery was frowned upon in the ancient world. He bases that on the statements of elite ancient authors. Presumably they spoke so vociferously against forging because it happened all the time. Who did most of the writing? Scribes. Is it possible, then, that the people doing the copying had a different view of their interaction with the text? What was the intellectual and moral world of the scribe? It is impossible to know.Ehrman cites a study that concluded one of Paul's epistles was forged based on a word-for-word statistical comparison of all of the letters known to be by Paul. The conclusion: So many words are different in this one letter that it almost certainly wasn't written by the apostle. I find this an intriguing method, and the findings are compelling. (More compelling, to me, than readers saying styles don't match.) But what is the degree of difference among texts by other known authors? Have similar studies been done on Cicero or other ancients for whom we have a sizable corpus of written work? Such a task should be easy enough with the help of a computer. If no similar studies have been done, then we are taking this argument out of context, and without that context, how can we be confident in it?Ehrman likewise cites the inconsistency of theological viewpoints in certain of Paul's letters in order to demonstrate that they are inauthentic. This makes a certain sort of sense: Surely a leader in the community wouldn't express contradictory beliefs. Except that they do. All the time. It's called politics. And surely Paul must have been a politician (to and among his particular constituency) as he was a spiritual leader. Even putting aside Paul's need to minister to a fractious polity, we must admit that people are by nature inconsistent; they frequently contradict themselves, sometimes baldly. And beliefs develop and evolve over time. This must have been so among early Christianity, which was not yet an established intellectual and religious tradition.Ehrman is either unaware of or indifferent to such concerns. (Or, as a scholar, realizes that my objections are so silly that they needn't be addressed.) His style is so ardent that other possibilities are immediately dismissed when raised. That, and his need to limit the scope of his argument for the sake of brevity, reduce the effectiveness of Forged, which reads more like an article or essay stretched to the length of a book.
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