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  Saturday  July 28  2007    12: 20 AM

book recommendation

Misquoting Jesus:
The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why

by Bart D. Ehrman

This is a fascinating book. The Bible is supposed to be the inerrant word of God. However, it seems that scribes that had been copying the Bible for 1,500 years took liberties with God's inerrant word. The oldest Greek texts seem to have some significant differences with what passes for the Bible in English. This book is a study of how that happened. Ehrman was a born again Christian when he started studying the ancient texts. Now he is an agnostic. Were that all the other Fundamentalists would do the same thing. Things would be a lot better. It is quite a detective story trying to figure out what the original texts said. Even if they were written by humans.

The Bible Delusion

Those who call the King James Version of the Bible the unerring word of God have a slight problem. The New Testament of the KJV (as the King James Version is usually referred) was translated into English from a version of the Greek New Testament that had been collected from twelfth-century copies by Erasmus. Where Erasmus couldn't find Greek manuscripts, he translated to Greek from the Latin Vulgate (which itself had been translated from Greek back in the fourth century). Here the problem splits into two problems. First, Jesus spoke Aramaic --- his actual words, never recorded, were only rendered in Greek in the original gospels. Thus, the KJV consists of Jesus' words twice refracted through the prism of translation. Second, Erasmus's Greek New Testament was based on handwritten copies of copies of copies of copies, etc., going back over a millennium, and today is considered one of the poorer Greek New Testaments. It is this second problem that Ehrman spends most time on in Misquoting Jesus, a fascinating account of New Testament textual criticism.

Many people have a vague notion that all the original biblical texts are preserved in vaults somewhere, and translators work from those original texts. Unfortunately, that isn't the case. The earliest surviving versions of the gospels are handwritten copies dating from centuries after the original texts were written. Also, we don't just have a single version of each gospel; we have many versions, and even more fragments. The trouble is, none of the versions agree with each other. As Ehrman puts it, there are more points of disagreement between manuscripts than there are words in the Gospels. So which one is right? How can one tell what the original authors intended?


  thanks to dangerousmeta!

The Book of Bart
In the Bestseller 'Misquoting Jesus,' Agnostic Author Bart Ehrman Picks Apart the Gospels That Made a Disbeliever Out of Him

Where does faith reside? In the soul? The mind, the marrow of the bones?

In the long hours of the night, the voices of the evangelical preachers on the AM dial seem to know. Believe, they say. Then daylight comes and the listeners' questions fade.

Bart Ehrman is a sermon, a parable, but of what? He's a best-selling author, a New Testament expert and perhaps a cautionary tale: the fundamentalist scholar who peered so hard into the origins of Christianity that he lost his faith altogether.

Once he was a seminarian and graduate of the Moody Bible Institute, a pillar of conservative Christianity. Its doctrine states that the Bible "is a divine revelation, the original autographs of which were verbally inspired by the Holy Spirit."

But after three decades of research into that divine revelation, Ehrman became an agnostic. What he found in the ancient papyri of the scriptorium was not the greatest story ever told, but the crumbling dust of his own faith.

"Sometimes Christian apologists say there are only three options to who Jesus was: a liar, a lunatic or the Lord," he tells a packed auditorium here at the University of North Carolina, where he chairs the department of religious studies. "But there could be a fourth option -- legend."