Book Review – Misquoting Jesus

I was really looking forward to reading this since I read an essay that Bart Ehrman wrote on the moment he lost his faith as a Born Again Christian.

I was pretty sure Professor Story would appreciate the argument, since I knew him as a good Christian scholar who obviously (like me) would never think there could be anything like a genuine error in the Bible. But at the end of my paper he made a simple one-line comment that for some reason went straight through me. He wrote: “Maybe Mark just made a mistake”.

This essay happens to be in the introduction of the book.

Misquoting I was a little disappointed when I actually came to read Misquoting Jesus but that probably says more about my expectations than about the book itself. Last year I read the quite marvellous Who Wrote the Bible and I was expecting Erhman to do the same thing for the New Testament that Friedman did for the Old.

All the facts were there, and he did a bang up job of telling the story but, overall, I felt like he was trying too hard.

Where Friedman just told a fascinating story about a fascinating episode of our history, Erhman felt like he had an agenda – to persuade the people who believe that the bible is the literal Word of God that it was written by fallible humans with agendas of their own. Since I already believe it was written by fallible humans, the advocacy got in the way of my enjoyment and, since I already knew the broad thrust of the story, it didn’t go deep enough to quench my thirst for knowledge.

It was a good read for all that though. I firmly believe that if kids were taught the history of the bible in school, it would inoculate them from some of the weirder fantasies conjured up by the literalists and they could enjoy the text for the beautiful literature that it is (in parts).

Recommended!

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Ragged Clown

Based in San Jose, California

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