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Half of New Testament forged, Bible scholar says
May 13th, 2011
11:47 AM ET

Half of New Testament forged, Bible scholar says

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) - A frail man sits in chains inside a dank, cold prison cell. He has escaped death before but now realizes that his execution is drawing near.

“I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come,” the man –the Apostle Paul - says in the Bible's 2 Timothy. “I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith.”

The passage is one of the most dramatic scenes in the New Testament. Paul, the most prolific New Testament author, is saying goodbye from a Roman prison cell before being beheaded. His goodbye veers from loneliness to defiance and, finally, to joy.

There’s one just one problem - Paul didn’t write those words. In fact, virtually half the New Testament was written by impostors taking on the names of apostles like Paul. At least according to Bart D. Ehrman, a renowned biblical scholar, who makes the charges in his new book “Forged.

“There were a lot of people in the ancient world who thought that lying could serve a greater good,” says Ehrman, an expert on ancient biblical manuscripts.In “Forged,” Ehrman claims that:

* At least 11 of the 27 New Testament books are forgeries.

* The New Testament books attributed to Jesus’ disciples could not have been written by them because they were illiterate.

* Many of the New Testament’s forgeries were manufactured by early Christian leaders trying to settle theological feuds.

Were Jesus’ disciples ‘illiterate peasants?'

Ehrman’s book, like many of his previous ones, is already generating backlash. Ben Witherington, a New Testament scholar, has written a lengthy online critique of “Forged.”

Witherington calls Ehrman’s book “Gullible Travels, for it reveals over and over again the willingness of people to believe even outrageous things.”

All of the New Testament books, with the exception of 2 Peter, can be traced back to a very small group of literate Christians, some of whom were eyewitnesses to the lives of Jesus and Paul, Witherington says.

“Forged” also underestimates the considerable role scribes played in transcribing documents during the earliest days of Christianity, Witherington  says.

Even if Paul didn’t write the second book of Timothy, he would have dictated it to a scribe for posterity, he says.

“When you have a trusted colleague or co-worker who knows the mind of Paul, there was no problem in antiquity with that trusted co-worker hearing Paul’s last testimony in prison,” he says. “This is not forgery. This is the last will and testament of someone who is dying.”

Ehrman doesn’t confine his critique to Paul’s letters. He challenges the authenticity of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and John. He says that none were written by Jesus' disciplies, citing two reasons.

He says none of the earliest gospels revealed the names of its authors, and that their current names were later added by scribes.

Ehrman also says that two of Jesus’ original disciples, John and Peter, could not have written the books attributed to them in the New Testament because they were illiterate.

“According to Acts 4:13, both Peter and his companion John, also a fisherman, were agrammatoi, a Greek word that literally means ‘unlettered,’ that is, ‘illiterate,’ ’’ he writes.

Will the real Paul stand up?

Ehrman reserves most of his scrutiny for the writings of Paul, which make up the bulk of the New Testament. He says that only about half of the New Testament letters attributed to Paul - 7 of 13 - were actually written by him.

Paul's remaining books are forgeries, Ehrman says. His proof: inconsistencies in the language, choice of words and blatant contradiction in doctrine.

For example, Ehrman says the book of Ephesians doesn’t conform to Paul’s distinctive Greek writing style. He says Paul wrote in short, pointed sentences while Ephesians is full of long Greek sentences (the opening sentence of thanksgiving in Ephesians unfurls a sentence that winds through 12 verses, he says).

“There’s nothing wrong with extremely long sentences in Greek; it just isn’t the way Paul wrote. It’s like Mark Twain and William Faulkner; they both wrote correctly, but you would never mistake the one for the other,” Ehrman writes.

The scholar also points to a famous passage in 1 Corinthians in which Paul is recorded as saying that women should be “silent” in churches and that “if they wish to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home.”

Only three chapters earlier, in the same book, Paul is urging women who pray and prophesy in church to cover their heads with veils, Ehrman says: “If they were allowed to speak in chapter 11, how could they be told not to speak in chapter 14?”

Why people forged

Forgers often did their work because they were trying to settle early church disputes, Ehrman says. The early church was embroiled in conflict - people argued over the treatment of women,  leadership and relations between masters and slaves, he says.

“There was competition among different groups of Christians about what to believe and each of these groups wanted to  have authority to back up their views,” he says. “If you were a nobody, you wouldn’t sign your own name to your treatise. You would sign Peter or John.”

So people claiming to be Peter and John - and all sorts of people who claimed to know Jesus - went into publishing overdrive. Ehrman estimates that there were about 100 forgeries created in the name of Jesus’ inner-circle during the first four centuries of the church.

Witherington concedes that fabrications and forgeries floated around the earliest Christian communities.

But he doesn’t accept the notion that Peter, for example, could not have been literate because he was a fisherman.

“Fisherman had to do business. Guess what? That involves writing, contracts and signed documents,” he said in an interview.

Witherington says people will gravitate toward Ehrman’s work because the media loves sensationalism.

“We live in a Jesus-haunted culture that’s biblically illiterate,” he says. “Almost anything can pass for historical information… A book liked ‘Forged’ can unsettle people who have no third or fourth opinions to draw upon.”

Ehrman, of course, has another point of view.

“Forged” will help people accept something that it took him a long time to accept, says the author, a former fundamentalist who is now an agnostic.

The New Testament wasn’t written by the finger of God, he says - it has human fingerprints all over its pages.

“I’m not saying people should throw it out or it’s not theologically fruitful,” Ehrman says. “I’m saying that by realizing it contains so many forgeries, it shows that it’s a very human book, down to the fact that some authors lied about who they were.”

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Belief • Bible • Books • Christianity • Culture wars • Faith

soundoff (2,204 Responses)
  1. jefe

    Hmmm,

    His evidence that the Bible is false comes from....the Bible! He's hanging all his critiques of the gospels on one translation of one verse in Acts? This is circular logic.

    I wonder how many of my emails would be found to be forged based on inconsistencies in style?

    May 13, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      Somehow I think that he's studied the subject a tiny bit more than you... BTW: how fluent are you in Aramaic and ancient Greek?

      May 13, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
    • jefe

      Aramaic and Greek have nothing to do with it. He is claiming he knows Peter and John were illiterate because of the translation of one verse in a book he says is false. So is it all false except for his precious verse? If it's all forged, why does that verse hold any weight? It's circular logic. I'm sure his translation is fine. That's not the point.

      May 13, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
  2. vernon

    Any scholar worth his salt knows that the same standards of historical accuracy did not exist at that time. Writing a testament like that was considered perfectly acceptable. Writing even more fanciful pieces purporting to tell the history of people like Jesus during the first three centuries after Christ were also considered acceptable if the author believed he was serving a greater purpose. It's just one of the complexities of the time period. I'm getting a little tired for the drum beat from "scholars" dug up by CNN on this kind of nonsense. If you don't want to believe – don't. Otherwise, it's just as much a missionary effort to run around knocking belief as it would be to publish tracts by Christians, something that would probably horrify CNN.

    May 13, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
  3. MD

    Has anyone ever heard the phrase the most logical answer is the simplest? To me we have a book, one of controversy for some and an instruction book to others, but the interesting fact is that no matter how many times you read the bible, what you receive from it depends on the place you are currently at in your life and walk with God. No matter what fault you may find in the bible or its believers, the fact is this the Bible is and always will be the most influential book in human history, and I know some will disagree but even books like the Koran are to be read along with the Bible in the Islamic faith, it is also used in Court and even to swear in our President . And if so many people who once were lost can be found by reading such an ancient text, then the most logical answer would be that the Bible was in fact inspired by something greater than us? The only other option would be that the words were not inspired by God and the last few centuries and all the came from it were all the cause of delusional leaders, but if thats the case then why even live, why choose to go to work or stay faithful to your spouse, why love your children. If there is nothing more after we die then as Solomon says its all Vanity and as Paul says we might as well drink and be merry for tomorrow we die.

    May 13, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
    • Oh the Irony!

      First of all Ocams razor is the right answer is usually the easiet one, not a logical answer being simple or whatever. secondly, I can agree that the bible is one of the most influential books in history, no denying that. That doesn't make it right, just or anything else that you inferred because it's been so influential. There's another little book called Mein Kampf, which was extrememly well received and still has major influence, should I infer there's a higher meaning in that as well? Lastly, why should I be good, go to work, love my children ect... well because I don't need a book or anything to tell me that. It's called common sense and I can listen to myself and judge my actions based on what I think is right and wrong. I don't need someone else to tell me that killing someone is bad, why do you? Are you also suggesting that drinking and being merry is a bad thing and we shouldn't because we won't get into heaven? Sounds like a downer religion to me anyways. a god who would rather humans live in constant devotion and turmoil isn't benevolent at all, yet you say he is, sounds like a battered woman, only this time christians (and muslims and jews and whoever else is religious) are the woman.

      May 13, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
    • seraphim0

      "why even live"
      Because we exist and are driven by a desire to experience our existence. Like any creature.

      "why choose to go to work..."
      To provide for ourselves and our family, as well as enable ourselves to do the things we enjoy.

      "...or stay faithful to your spouse"
      Because some people bond on that level of emotion. They love one another and that is reason enough. They do not want to discard such a thing. Simple, really.

      "why love your children."
      Because we are hardwired to, neurologically. The connections made are there for a reason. To be scientific: it is to ensure the survival of the young and thus, the species. Or- you love them because you created them with another person. You love them because they are the most precious things in the world to you. You don't love them because a book tells you to... you love them because you simply do.

      You're trying to confuse the existence of morality with a book. Morality does NOT have its origins in the bible- or any other religion for that matter.

      May 13, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
    • Hitch

      MD,

      I don’t think it’s such a simplistic dichotomy of either A or –A as you put it, there could be many possibilities. That it (bible) contain kernels of wisdom here & there amongst the horrors doesn’t in the least make it evident that it was divinely authored, inspired, or had anything to do with a god. When I read the actions in Joshua, numbers, Leviticus & elsewhere I came away thinking gods a monster.

      If it was inspired by something greater than us, then I find it hard to believe that such an omniscient deity would allow fallible men to defile it in such a way over the ages. Starting from the onset there was no canonization; the synoptic gospels were written decades after the events supposedly occurred, leading oral interpolations & myth to become intertwined with fact. How the books have been authored, edited, copied, translated, enhanced & in Nicaea voted on leads to more issues. We wouldn’t see the internal inconsistencies, the contradictions & we certainly wouldn’t see overtime more & more divisions of denominations since they’re all working for the same claimed word of god. Having so many other religions existing previous to & since come & go all claiming similar divinity questions the legitimacy for such a claim at all.

      Why love life? Easy. If you sincerely cannot find this life worthwhile & your lust for some imaged land of lollipops or 72 virgins is all you can contemplate, well, then that would explain your demeanor. For all you know this is the only life you have, the only chance you have to make the most of it & to improve it for others, to make the best world for those you love (that’s why for the kids), for the legacy of humanity.

      May 13, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
    • BK

      "...drink and be merry for tomorrow we die."

      I thought that was Dave Matthews who said that (?)

      May 13, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
    • MD

      k well first any book can be influential, all things have a purpose whether good or bad and some books can be inspired by evil as well, but a book like the Bible offers freedom, it teaches about loving others over ourselves, you say you dont need a book to tell you that, so Im sure then you always think of others when you act, you must always act selflessly too. And if thats true, Id say start a religion and youd probably get people to follow you. People are drawn to love and to those whom are humble but most of us are incapable of unconditional love, we need a book not to control us but to show us how to respond to persecution, to those who spitefully use us and to those who hate us. If history is any indication Id say that humans love pain and are attracted to things that hurt others but help our own selfish motives. I cannot say whether a moral code is hard-wired from birth but I do believe the basis of all morality is compassion and choice. But if you truly feel that you can live completely in love and that is your moral obligation then wouldnt you at least be curious to listen to the words of Jesus, whom the Dalai Lama said "Don't compare me to Jesus, he was a Great Master."

      May 13, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
  4. Jechris

    For all those who are running after one person as messenger, please note that there is not an inch difference between Jesus or you.

    May 13, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
  5. Robert

    Half of it was forged, the other half is a total lie.

    May 13, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
  6. DoodleSheep

    The entire book is a forgery. People who have faith in it are fools, or at least naive. This is true for other religious books. They're mythological hybrids borrowing from older stories, not representations of fact.

    May 13, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
    • Magic

      There is *some* accurate geography and *some* historical people and events in the Bible, along with *some* practical wisdom for beneficial human behavior; but it is rife with historical fiction, supernatural fantasy, myth, legend and superst.ition.

      May 13, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
  7. Jackson

    "Witherington calls Ehrman’s book 'Gullible Travels, for it reveals over and over again the willingness of people to believe even outrageous things.'" Yes, like... believing in the Bible?

    May 13, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
    • seraphim0

      Or Freudian theory. Particularly the more metaphysical "Eros" and "Thanatos" energies that the mind runs off of- very... interesting.

      Regardless... a good point.

      May 13, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
  8. Dexmorg

    Thats pretty sad that a biblical scholar would call this forgery or lying. He should know better. People at that time would write on behalf of others, and that is found on numerous occasions in the new testament. During that time period, people that wrote on behalf of another would take on their name; taking on a persons name when writing was considering writing on their behalf.

    May 13, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
    • Oh the Irony!

      You right, I think from now on I'll write on your behalf then yes? I mean as long as I insert my comments under your name and say "well this is what Dexmorg meant to say so instead of signing my name, I'll just sign it under his" that's cool? If so then I remember when you said, and I quote from your lips " Zombies do exist and in fact the most famous one came back after 3 days and walked around the countryside some more, neat right?" Sorry Dexter Morgan..... but the truth of the matter is 1) most people DON'T believe that others wrote on the apostle's behalf and 2) since all of the different letters of Pauls are so different and cotradictary, it's hard to believe that Paul would have even allowed these forgers to write on his behalf to begin with.

      May 13, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
    • db_cooper

      hey irony... besides not knowing the meaning of a word you included in your own pseudonym, you don't know how to think logically. the o.p. was implying (and it's pretty clear from his post), that when you write on someone's behalf, it's with their permission, and in fact most likely at their asking. your little "offer" to write on the o.p.'s behalf is mixing apples and oranges, and that's only one of the many fallacies clearly apparent in your "logic".

      May 13, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
  9. Chris

    Pretty sure it's all forged.

    May 13, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
    • ScottK

      All the writers claim to be inspired by God, so if any of the more than 40 did not have a direct link upstairs, then yes, they would be forgeries. And since there's still some debate on the big guy's existence, if he's not up there, the whole thing is infact a forgery.

      May 13, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
  10. seraphim0

    And, predictably, it is said: "It doesn't matter if it's real or not... just if you have faith." Just slightly niave. Be nice if you could say the same of a pay check. Fact of the matter is: the books were written far after the deaths of these individuals- and edited since then, and in some cases, voted on by the church. At this point, does it really matter? Additionally, the division on literal truth of the bible as opposed to parables of faith that teach its tenents- again, does it matter? No, it doesn't. And, in this, Christianity is no different than any other religion.
    People will have faith regardless of the amount of evidence shown to contradict what they believe. Its a bit ridiculous, but the way it is. But, hey... as long as they're not ranting and proscribing everyone else to hellfire and trying to convert everything in sight forcibly (a problem with both Christianity and Islam- look up your history if you doubt either)... who cares? Some people need faith for security and certainty. If it helps- by all means.

    May 13, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
    • Magic

      Yes, people are free to carry around sacksful of lucky horseshoes if they want to - just don't start throwing them at me or mine, or insist that I must install them on my car tires - and don't be surprised if your rationality is suspect in other matters.

      May 13, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
    • seraphim0

      Magic- pretty much on the same page here, friend. I'm not religious in any respect, and find the majority of these beliefs a bit... laughable. However, I respect people's right to believe what they will- even if it is in the face of other proof. As long as they don't try to force it on others.

      May 13, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
  11. david Wolf

    thanks .... for the information ....

    May 13, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
  12. tom

    This scholar is a quack, a nut, a fruticake.

    May 13, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
    • Colin

      I have read his material. He is articulate and reasoned. Just because you do not like the conclusions, do not blame the messenger.

      May 13, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      You're probably right... anyone who would waste all this time on a work of fiction like the bible is out of his mind.

      May 13, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
    • db_cooper

      ted bundy was articulate and reasoned too... and so is peter singer (you know, the guy who advocates infanticide and puts animals on the same moral plane as humans?)... sounding articulate and "reasoned" (what does that mean, anyway... is that anything like "seasoned"?), doesn't mean you are not a quack or a fruitcake or a nut... or adolph hitler or chairman mao, or barack obama. eloquence does not equal truth, just as beauty does not equal goodness.

      watch less television, read more classics.

      May 13, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
  13. El Kababa

    There are people who are assuring us that Jesus will arrive on May 21, 2011. Most of us, presumably, will be in Hell in about ten days. Revelation assures us that there will only be 144,000 souls in Heaven. That means that odds are that everyone posting comments on this blog is going to hell.

    May 13, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
    • david Wolf

      I like your reasoning ...but didn't we kinda know that already ... in a hand basket no less ....

      May 13, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
    • Randy

      That is NOT what the 144,000 meant in the book of Revelation! Revelation needs to be read in a group setting with a Pastor, Priest, etc... I read a lot of it and when I re-read it with a group and Pastor, my interpritation was WAY off. Many numbers and descriptions such as the one you mention symbolic of with other meanings in other languages or times. The 144,000 is the belief of the Jahova's Witness and is insane idea. Why in the world are they out knocking on the doors of everyone if they believe that out of the millions of people that have already lived and died that they are going to save a measly 144,00? I just wish I could remember what my Pastor said this really meant cuz it made sense.

      May 13, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
    • Mr. Bones

      Hand-basket, schmand-basket.

      I prefer a bucket, thank you very much. At least I'm enjoyin' the ride.

      May 13, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
    • S

      @Randy – Nostradomus had a lot of different predictions that, like Revelations, would be interpreted in any number of ways. It doesn't mean that they're actually going to happen.

      May 13, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
    • airwx

      @ S.....Revelation is not hard to understand. If you understand the symbolgy and numerology of the Jewish community at the time it was written (ca 95 AD). ex: 144000= 12 tribes times the quanti-ty (3 (God's holy number) times 4 (the number of man) times 10 ( the number of completion). 12*3*4*10=144000. No magic, no mystery, just a theological statement.

      May 13, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
    • Steve (the real one)

      The 144,00 refers to the number of end-time jewish evangelists who will preach the gospel to the world AFTER the church has been raptured. 12,000 from each of the 12 tribes.

      May 13, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
    • El Kababa

      I note that each of you who know what 144,000 means in Revelation do not agree with each other at all. Like I said in another post, there are hundreds of Christianities. Their gods all have the same names, but other than that there is little similarity among them.

      Scholars say that the Antichrist was Nero. 666 is a numerological reference to Nero, who was emperor at the time Revelation was written.

      May 13, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
    • db_cooper

      you posted this on may 13, writing that may 21 is "about 10 days away". 21 minus 13 equal 8, not 10.

      lazy much?

      you basically just proved that you are intellectually lazy, and so i must presume that anything you write or say is not grounded in any kind of rigorous thought or study. my conclusion: you don't know what you're talking about; in fact, you are full of scheisse.

      May 13, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
    • Squirrel-Juggling Sermon On The Mounty

      Rodents 15:43 – And ye, I say it truly, that thou shouldst never accuseth others of intellectual laziness when thou thyself are too lazy to capitalize.

      May 13, 2011 at 7:30 pm |
  14. Reality

    Many if not most contemporary NT scholars have been saying this for years with the Timothy and T-itus epistles being even questioned for authenticity by many RCC-approved scholars.

    A summary:

    Jesus was an illiterate Jewish peasant/carpenter/simple preacher man who suffered from hallucinations (or “mythicizing” from P, M, M, L and J) and who has been characterized anywhere from the Messiah from Nazareth to a mythical character from mythical Nazareth to a ma-mzer from Nazareth (Professor Bruce Chilton, in his book Rabbi Jesus). An-alyses of Jesus’ life by many contemporary NT scholars (e.g. Professors Crossan, Borg, Ludemann, and Fredriksen, ) via the NT and related doc-uments have concluded that only about 30% of Jesus' sayings and ways noted in the NT were authentic. The rest being embellishments (e.g. miracles)/hallucinations made/had by the NT authors to impress various Christian, Jewish and Pagan sects.

    The 30% of the NT that is "authentic Jesus" like everything in life was borrowed/plagiarized and/or improved from those who came before. In Jesus' case, it was the ways and sayings of the Babylonians, Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, Hitt-ites, Canaanites, OT, John the Baptizer and possibly the ways and sayings of traveling Greek Cynics.
    earlychristianwritings.com/theories.html

    For added "pizzazz", Catholic theologians divided god the singularity into three persons and invented atonement as an added guilt trip for the "pew people" to go along with this trinity of overseers. By doing so, they made god the padre into god the "filicider".

    May 13, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      I can't handle reality.

      Amen.

      May 13, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
    • db_cooper

      you ought to read C.S. Lewis... no, not his fantasy books, but his other stuff. he's not the only one to have done it, but he explores the trilema of Jesus: he was either a liar, or a crazy person (that would align with your "hallucination" remark), or he was who he said he was (God incarnate). Lewis debunks the first two possibilities with logic.

      what i find truly ironic (as well as pathetic), is that those who purport to believe in science and logic and rational thought, while scoffing about religious faith and rational belief (which is based on historical and phenomenological evidence, as opposed to irrational faith, such as that in evolution as explaining the origin of life human or otherwise, which, by the way it doesn't), are so often the same people who use illogical thinking and irrational beliefs to support unsubstantiated claims, usually because they don't want to believe in something that would require them to amend their lives.

      one of the most insightful quotes (which i paraphrase) i have ever heard came from Fulton Sheen: "before true conversion, people seek out ideas and form their beliefs to validate the way they are living their lives; after true conversion, people change their way of living to conform to their beliefs."

      By the way, I often write in brief, concise sentences. In fact, I prefer it. But sometimes I extend my sentences substantially. The previous paragraph is an example of this. There are several factors which influence which tact I use in my writing. The audience I'm addressing, the idea I wish to express, and the amount of passion I feel at the moment for my subject matter, are 3 of them.

      This "scholar" is nothing more than an ideologue in search of evidence that seems to fit his conclusions.

      May 13, 2011 at 4:45 pm |
  15. So...what's really news?

    The New Testament might actually be a fabrication?! Whod've thought?!! I like the Bible, as I like Aesop's Fables or any other story because they are exactly that: stories. They are tools designed for one to draw their own inferences, not meant to be taken either factually or literally. Jesus Christ, people, think for yourselves.

    May 13, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
  16. Oh the Irony!

    What I find hilarious is that usually the people who study the bible the most and who know it front to back are the people who realized the bible is complete CRAP

    May 13, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
    • Juggling Squirrel-Jesus

      Ignorance is bliss. That's why so many churches cherry pick snippets to read during service and just rehash those same snippets every several years.

      May 13, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
    • Beneficent Dog-Buddha

      Welcome, fellow animal deity! May I suggest that based on the behavior of religious humans, ignorance simply cannot be bliss.

      May 13, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
    • db_cooper

      "irony"? you keep using that word... i do not think it means what you think it means.

      if something is "crap", as you say, then it only makes sense that those who study it most would be those who are most aware of its "crapiness". You're wrong about the bible, and your inability to think and use words properly only underscores this.

      May 13, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
    • Almighty Zebra-Zeus

      Will, if ignorance isn't bliss, it at least sure does keep the masses in line.

      May 13, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
    • Oh the Irony!

      @db_cooper

      First of all, props on the Princess Bride reference. Really.

      Secondly, I'm not shocked that the people who study the bible most would know the most about it, that's clearly implied by the first part of the sentence. What gets me is that since these people are most knowledgable on the subject, for something like this book wouldn't it have inspired them the most had this book actually made sense and had divine inspiration? I mean seriously, if the bible was perfect and written by god and all that then the people who read it the most should, theoretically be the people who are most inspired and yet those same people are the ones who have discovered the horrendous flaws that are on every page. Having done some in depth studying myself I went from religious jew, to agnostic not willing to accept it to full fledged atheist. I think there are a bunch of people out there who are just like me, having actually read the book that so many people have faith in but few actually read it.

      May 13, 2011 at 4:53 pm |
  17. Corey

    II love how people come out with books that say things that everyone who is into biblical study already knows, but somehow it's this big deal. WE ALREADY KNOW PAUL DIDN'T WRITE SEVERAL OF THE EPISTLES! Good grief.

    May 13, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
    • ScottK

      And yet all the Christian's still quote it as "Well Paul said..." We should just rename it the Hebrew texts & the Council of Nicea compliation.

      May 13, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
  18. IkanThink

    Based on the brevity of the article and the flip remarks about the writer "jumping to conclusions" and comments to that effect, I think it is important to note that Mr Erhman is the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and considered a leading authority on the Bible and on the life of Jesus. He translates and works from his own translations and has written over twenty books. I highly recommend "Misquoting Jesus" and "God's Problem." Just thought you should all know he is a scholar.

    May 13, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
    • db_cooper

      even scholars can have their own ideology and self-interest... he sees what he wants to see, and then sets about tryinng to prove it. he has proven nothing... but i'm sure he'll manage to sell more books and "feel" or "believe" that he is doing some kind of "good" in the world, which is what motivates many (if not most) people to stick with their personal ideologies. Truth has no ideology... it is simply Truth. we will all find out one day what the Truth really is (except of course for slick willy and his sicophants, who will eternally question the meaning of the word "is").

      May 13, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
    • Mikey

      As well as disrespecting an outstanding Biblical scholar, Mr. Witherington disrespects anyone who thinks about the Christian religion. Do people actually believe that the words of the New Testament all came verbatim from the disciples of Jesus???? How inconceivable! For heavens sake (pun intended) we can't know the lives of kings and queens from 1000 years ago, bare facts – nothing more. How is it possible that we know everything about a relatively unimportant man from 2000 thousand years ago (and yes I realize how important the story of Jesus became – I am referencing his actual life.)

      May 13, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
    • Shawn

      Bart Ehrman also represents a part of the Jesus Seminar which is a MINORITY of Biblical Scholarship. Those biased or not. With no one to account for Jesus missing body how can one explain how Christianity has survived? If he was hidden away by the disciples or disposed of somehow someone would have eventually came up to those disciples spreading around the 'lie' and said, "Listen, either you be quiet about this or we will kill you." It's a simple question of who would die for a lie. No one would. Not to mention being tortured to death. All the while singing praises to God about how he has saved them. How is this not legitimate?

      May 13, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
  19. Krista

    The only people who will have problem with this are people whose faith is in a book, rather than in their God. The fact is that humans put pen to ink and wrote the various manuscripts which they then decided to include in the bible (some didn't make it). Nothing written by a person is going to be infallible, and human nature hasn't changed much... The problems happen when people take bits and pieces of the bible and use it to judge others, or discriminate against them with the basis of the so-called 'perfect 'word of God' It is not perfect, as God never took away the agency of man, and they exercised it writing that book.

    It is, simply, a testament of their experiences with their faith and their beliefs, as well, in some parts, a historical archive.

    Don't worship a book. Don't put your God in a box with words... Have faith in your higher power and let the things of the world be imperfect as they always are.

    May 13, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
    • seraphim0

      Well said.

      May 13, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
    • Sarmad

      Wouldn't God want to protect His word for eternity? Why allow it to be corrupted and altered?

      May 13, 2011 at 4:10 pm |
    • seraphim0

      Sarmad- Barring the obvious answer to that (and rather blunt one) of: because he's not real? One could look at it this way through the lens of faith: The book is the word of god as told through man. Man is imperfect- and made mistakes. Holding true to free will, god allowed the work to stand as it is, since it still teaches his message and stands as a great work. The faithful would know the message, regardless of its source, and see it through the imperfections of man's language. Or, going off of the parable belief: the heart of the tale is what is true, the words and who speaks them do not matter as long as the lessons learned are taken to heart- with faith in the soul of the work.

      Pick any of the three. Ease your conscience.

      May 13, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
    • cadecker

      you are correct...also this man will see the truth in the end...and god will punish him for calling god and his book a liar...sucks to be him

      May 13, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
    • Stevie7

      @cadecker – you talked to god and he told you this? Or did god give you proxy judgemental powers so that he could do some other work?

      May 13, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
    • MarcyD

      Krista...You have articulated my thoughts exactly.

      May 13, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
  20. brad

    I'm always interested in "scholarly" accounts of Jesus resurrection. It was imperative that Jesus's enemies find his body. What if this Christian thing spread and the Romans descended on them? What if the Sanhedrin's authority went to hades? Desperate and with all evidence at hand, they could find no corpse. Yet today's scholars have produced a corpse. On paper. In theory. Using white gloves and a magnifying glass.

    May 13, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
    • JohnR

      Jesus's enemies just finished killing him and mocked him by challenging him to use his divine powers to come down from the cross. Nobody was looking for Jesus's body.

      May 13, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
    • Electric Larry

      Brad, that's silly. If the Romans were so afraid of him, the would have just taken the body away and hidden it in the first place. They weren't worrying about the spread of any new religion, and wouldn't for decades, by which point the story already seems to have been out there anyway.

      It was NOT imperative that Jesus' enemies find his body – they already had it and did not care, so they let it be thrown into a tomb. Jesus had not said anything about the importance of his death, so nobody knew that the presence or absense of his body would mean anything. The only people who would care are those who were spreading around a false story of a resurrection – they would be the only ones who would want to find and hide Jesus' body.

      How did you come to believe this gibberish, Brad?

      May 13, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
    • brad

      @JohnR and Electric Larry
      It wasn't the Romans who were interested in the body of Jesus, it was the Sanhedrin. That's why a guard was posted at the tomb – to prevent Jesus' followers from steeling the body and then claiming a resurrection. Also, read Acts 5. The Sanhedrin roughed up Peter and friends about spreading this resurrection thing. They were VERY interested. Gamaliel, the respected scripture scholar warned the Sanhedrin "if this Jesus' thing is human in its origins it will destroy itself. If it is from God, you can't fight it without battling God himself."

      May 13, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
    • brad

      I would also add this: the Roman's may not have been interested in just another rabble rouser. But the Romans did tolerate the established religious order under the Sanhedrin because it kept the Jews, well, ordeerly. The new Christian sect threatened that order with attendant chaos. This would have brought in the Romans to re-establish order in their brutal way.

      May 13, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
    • JohnR

      Totally ridiculous theory. Not even consistent with the resurrection story.

      May 13, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
    • Vinz Clortho

      You have your scripture wrong, Brad. This is the truth:

      Gozer the Traveller will come in one of the pre-chosen forms. During the rectification of the Vuldronaii the Traveller came as a very large and moving Torb. Then of course in the third reconciliation of the last of the Meketrex supplicants they chose a new form for him, that of a Sloar. Many Shubs and Zuuls knew what it was to be roasted in the depths of the Sloar that day I can tell you.

      May 13, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
    • Stevie7

      If you were going to add in some details of some supposed resurrection that would have happened many decades earlier, would it make sense to include a guard at the tomb for the very reasons your mentioning? If I'm writing this up and I want it to be believable, I would want my readers to think that there's no way anyone could have physically gotten into or out of the tomb. It does make for good fiction.

      May 13, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      Perhaps they should have "buried" him at sea.... off one of their aircraft carriers...

      May 13, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
    • Orville

      If I were Jesus, I would be very upset over the fact that people are so consumed by the fact that my body is nowhere to be found. It means that everyone missed the point. Jesus is not interested in your body, he is interested in you, a spiritual being. So incapable are people to differentiate between their body and themselves, that if there is nothing physical to hold onto, then it is not worthy of faith. The message as not about bodies, it was not about the physical universe. It was a spiritual message about your spiritual health. sheesh, stop looking for the corpse. It's been over 2000 years. What's the point? You either get it or you don't. Why does everyone need to find a body in order to complete the deal? 'Cmon.

      May 13, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.