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Publisher's Summary

When world-class biblical scholar Bart Ehrman first began to study the texts of the Bible in their original languages he was startled to discover the multitude of mistakes and intentional alterations that had been made by earlier translators. In Misquoting Jesus, Ehrman tells the story behind the mistakes and changes that ancient scribes made to the New Testament and shows the great impact they had upon the Bible we use today. He frames his account with personal reflections on how his study of the Greek manuscripts made him abandon his once ultraconservative views of the Bible.

Since the advent of the printing press and the accurate reproduction of texts, most people have assumed that when they read the New Testament they are reading an exact copy of Jesus's words or Saint Paul's writings. And yet, for almost fifteen hundred years these manuscripts were hand copied by scribes who were deeply influenced by the cultural, theological, and political disputes of their day. Both mistakes and intentional changes abound in the surviving manuscripts, making the original words difficult to reconstruct. For the first time, Ehrman reveals where and why these changes were made and how scholars go about reconstructing the original words of the New Testament as closely as possible.

Ehrman makes the provocative case that many of our cherished biblical stories and widely held beliefs concerning the divinity of Jesus, the Trinity, and the divine origins of the Bible itself stem from both intentional and accidental alterations by scribes -- alterations that dramatically affected all subsequent versions of the Bible.Bart D. Ehrman chairs the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is a widely regarded authority on the history of the New Testament.

©2005 Bart Ehrman (P)2006 Recorded Books

Critic Reviews

"Engaging and fascinating." (Publishers Weekly)

What listeners say about Misquoting Jesus

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Understanding Manuscripts

Dr. Erhman does a very good job of helping people to understand the cannon of Scripture and the differences in the manuscripts and how personal beliefs influenced the people transcribing those manuscripts. Very illuminating. A very good course in understanding the New Testament. Enjoy! Warning: May not be suitable or might upset those with a KJV only belief.

56 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars

Understanding

I think it would help potential listeners to understand this is a book primarily about the process or science of textual criticism and how scholars study origins of text and reach conclusions about which version might or might not be original. I found it fascinating.

New testament as the subject of textual criticism would only be relevant or interesting to someone with a Christian background or understanding, especially if you've been involved in some of the in-fighting among various sects of Christianity. If you are familiar with the debates about divine inspiration and care about other nit-picky details. You don't need 12 years of catholic school, but a basic knowledge and interest in the topic helps.

If you're not involved in the debate over one word, if you are looking for dramatic expose, or a worldwide sinister conspiracy theory, you will be disappointed. There are no shocking revelations. Its about an added sentence here or there, a single changed word, either deliberate or accidental. Its about why and how someone today would identify what words are suspect and which of various scripts might be original and how they can tell the difference. The basic story of the new testament doesn't change all that much, if at all.

I think the narrator is a must, he does an excellent job explaining new concepts of textual criticism that wouldn't be familiar to the non-scholar. There's nothing too hard to understand, but for someone not familiar with the terminology, its much easier if you have someone read it and use proper pronunciation and inflection throughout the sentences.
I think this is a book that lends itself to being read aloud that reading the text yourself.

51 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Compelling scholarship

Ehrman came to this subject with all the right credentials as a formerly-fundamentalist Christian who became educated via the best universities and who slowly realized through research in the original documents of Christianity that the story he was told in church before becoming a learned scholar is not based on documents that tell a consistent tale. He explains how the Christian bible is filled with errors caused by the failures of those who copied the documents through the centuries before (and after) printing presses came to be. His explanation is rational and welcome, at least to me, an educated person who does not read Greek but who wants to know what the bible really says and means....and if it is to be taken as the literal word of God. After listening to this book twice and buying the print copy to study, I have concluded that there is both more and less to the Bible than the fundamentalists say...although I guess I knew that all along.

Ehrman's book is compelling, interesting, and essential to seekers who are tired of the voodoo and scare tactics of a certain type of "religious" person in American society who is to be found literally everywhere in the country.

44 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars

a (mostly) balanced discussion

I took 3 years of koine (Biblical) greek in college and am aware of the textual variants in the texts of the New Testament. And while the author is upfront about his bias and purpose in writing the book, he glosses over some significant points.


1. Counting textual variants. A textual variant is counted for every manuscript, even if that manuscript is a known copy. So once a scribe made a mistake, every copy of the document is counted as a textual variant even when it is a part of the same family of texts.


2. Many of the textual variants cited do not exist in the Bible today, but the author presents them as though these are widely distributed texts. A small number of these variants appeared in certain areas, but the widely accepted text that has been passed down is generally the same.


3. The author presents the pseudoprigrapha texts (Gosepl of Thomas, etc.) as equally valid as the 4 accepted Gospels of the New Testament. However, these texts were never accepted by the majority of the early church and were not viewed as credible in their own time. But the author paints the picture of a broad conspiracy of proto-orthodox believers to exclude these texts, without regard for their content or historical context.


There are a number of issues that the author and I agree on, this was an enjoyable read, for the $5 I paid during an audible sale.

37 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Not recommended for fundamentalists...

Professor Ehrman has written a marvelous book about how the books of the New Testament came to be, and what inspired him to write it. His research is very thorough, and very mind-opening regarding who actually "wrote" or copied the books prior to the invention of the printing press.

Highly recommended for those who are curious about the history behind the scriptures, as well as the foundation of his subsequent books. Not recommended for fundamentalists, unless they are ready for some shocking revelations about how their sacred texts were altered over time.

A 5-star book, I gave it a 4 due to the poor reading by Mr. Davidson. He doesn't seem to have a handle on the timing and dramatics. (Thank goodness this was the only of Ehrman's books he read.)

Also recommended: _Peter, Paul & Mary Magdalene_, _Truth and Fiction in The DaVinci Code_, _God's Problem_, and _The Lost Gospel of Judas Iscariot_.

37 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars

a (mostly) balanced discussion

I took 3 years of koine (Biblical) greek in college and am aware of the textual variants in the texts of the New Testament. And while the author is upfront about his bias and purpose in writing the book, he glosses over some significant points.


1. Counting textual variants. A textual variant is counted for every manuscript, even if that manuscript is a known copy. So once a scribe made a mistake, every copy of the document is counted as a textual variant even when it is a part of the same family of texts.


2. Many of the textual variants cited do not exist in the Bible today, but the author presents them as though these are widely distributed texts. A small number of these variants appeared in certain areas, but the widely accepted text that has been passed down is generally the same.


3. The author presents the pseudoprigrapha texts (Gosepl of Thomas, etc.) as equally valid as the 4 accepted Gospels of the New Testament. However, these texts were never accepted by the majority of the early church and were not viewed as credible in their own time. But the author paints the picture of a broad conspiracy of proto-orthodox believers to exclude these texts, without regard for their content or historical context.


There are a number of issues that the author and I agree on, this was an enjoyable read, for the $5 I paid during an audible sale.

35 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Maybe a little too much...

I recommend you first try the book Ehrman wrote after this one, "Jesus Interrupted". It steps back from the details presented in this book to give a better understanding of how the Bible developed. Then, if you want to delve deeper into the details of the New Testament, get this one.

35 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

sound facts, great book!

This was a great listen . The facts were solid and the information contain should help the student of the bible "rightly divide the WORD of TRUTH" . Assuming one is seeking Wisdom and truth. The book is disigned to enlighten the reader as to the origins of today's modern Bible. It is not designed to shake or destroy ones faith in the Christian Religion. It is an engaging listen , with a nice pace . Reader , keep and open mind and know that if one would seek truth ,he must search in multiple places. Not just the church

29 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

A few Choice Misses

I did enjoy this book, although it is a little dry. It started out very autobiographical, then got scholerly, I expected the conclusion to return to the autobiographical theme and let the reader know what the authors take on the "misquotes" especially concerning his own faith... the path of which he shares in the beginning. However it did not return to the authors impressions. I was interested in the grist of the book, and for that it is a good read, although if this is really information you are interested in it may be better in a printed version, so as to go back and take notes etc. I had a lot of difficulty in rewinding, but that may just be getting used to my ipod. I would recomend having a bible handy.

23 people found this helpful

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A critique of Ehrman

It wasn't until after purchasing & listening to this title, as a result of a special offer, that I decided to find out more about the author and the position he takes with his textual criticism. I think it important to note his motives for his position before one makes this purchase, so I have supplied here a link to explore that topic a little more.
You can decide for yourself whether his position is supported by other scholars of textual criticism.
One should also know that the historicity of the New Testament cannot be successfully challenged.
There are COMPLETE copies of manuscripts of the New & Old Testaments that date back to the 4th century AD. The Codex Vaticanus, as well as partial manuscripts, the John Rylands Fragment, dating to between 90 – 125 A.D. This fragment has been compared to modern day copies of this same section of the Gospel of John to be letter by letter identical to each other.

22 people found this helpful

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