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. SilentBoy741

    Ehrman *might* have at least some credibility, if he didn't "coincidentally" have a book he was trying to sell. At least half of his degrees are probably forged, too, but we're supposed to take *his* word on faith as the undisputed truth...

    May 13, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
    • gremlin

      As I said elsewhere, this isn't really news in the religious studies world. He's sensationalizing and creating controversy to sell a book. Which is too bad because the history of the formation of the Old and New Testaments is actually really interesting.

      May 13, 2011 at 6:47 pm |
    • Al

      That's what most people do when they write a book. They promote it.

      Here's yer sign...

      May 15, 2011 at 2:53 am |
  2. Ripple

    Forgery is a harsh word, but Erhman is attempting a necessary reality check and trying to put the New Testament in context of the times. For instance, because of the law in the OT mandating education, most Jews could read enough Hebrew to get bar-mitzvahed. But Hebrew was not the common language of the time (Aramaic was) and chances are Peter didn't know Hebrew any better than half the kids who are bar mitzvah today. Also, it is as unlikely a fisherman in those days could read and write in multiple languages as it is to find one today. By and large, early Christianity was a religion of the poor and the poor are seldom literate. It is also unlikely that Paul would have been allowed a scribe to take down his last will and testament or given the materials to write it himself. Paper hadn't been invented yet and scribes, parchment and clay tablets were hard to come by.

    May 13, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
    • Joe

      I'm not a bible scholar but you make a good argument. Although, I learned Paul was a Roman citizen and was treated well when he was in jails. we don't know for sure what jail culture was at that time, but it is believable that Paul was given a scribe to write his letters. There are four letters in the new testament that were written in jails by Paul.

      May 13, 2011 at 6:06 pm |
  3. MashaSobaka

    This isn’t going to get the religious whackjobs to admit that their book is fraudulent and ridiculous. It’s just going to make them cling to it more tightly and whimper that the Devil is tempting them. Should be interesting reading for the rest of us, though. Not that it’ll tell us anything mind-blowing…it’ll just give us a little more information about something we already know. I’d be the last person to dismiss the importance of that.

    May 13, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
  4. Jason

    I knew it!

    May 13, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
  5. Markus

    When even the doubts and conversion of an expert are dismissed, you know that the belief survives purely by wishful thinking. If this was a mathematician or a scientist coming to a radical conclusion in their field, the idea would at least be considered. These people are simply not interested in what is true. A Christian must automatically say no. A person – an individual, with their own thoughts – would say maybe.

    May 13, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
    • Joe

      you're generalizing a whole group of christian. There are many christain scholars who study scientific evidences of the Bible for example. I'm a christain and I do not consider my faith to be blind. WHen you generalize people like that, you're also losing credibility in your claims.

      May 13, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
    • Tohrm

      Joe, you sound like you don't like being generalized. But if it's true, why complain?

      May 13, 2011 at 6:08 pm |
    • Markus

      Joe, all faith is blind, unlimited trust. That's the definition. And in a world of liars of every kind, all faith is stupid and dangerous.

      May 14, 2011 at 12:52 am |
    • Thinker

      Markus- If faith is stupid, why do you do anything at all? Why do you take chances on sitting in a chair when it could break? Why do you trust that eating gives your body the fuel to work? Why do you post a comment with your ideas? Since faith is stupid, then the post button might not post what you actually said.

      You have faith innately. Despite your opinion that faith is stupid, you have faith in your own opinions.

      Therefore, how can you say that anyone who declares a faith in Jesus Christ stupid when you contradict yourself.

      May 25, 2011 at 11:56 pm |
  6. Cranston

    This line cracked me up:

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

    People believing outrageous things? Like what? The Bible? How about the Koran? Book of Mormon? Let's throw the Cabala in there, too!

    Face it, the entire Bible is just a bunch of stories and writings made up by men over several centuries. New Testament, Old Testament, Koran, they're all the same with no more connection to God than the OED. Get over it people. God is just a mythical sky fairy, and the Bible is just another book.

    May 13, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
    • citizenEP

      Amen, Brother Cranston. Well said.

      May 14, 2011 at 7:10 pm |
    • Michael

      It is, though, a magnificent fairy tale. It has entertained and deceived many millions of people for thousands of years and has been used as a tool by legions of scam artists (clergy) to hoodwink the "faithful" into giving their money.

      May 16, 2011 at 10:28 am |
    • InFormed99

      I wish I had written it and collected the royalties on it also.

      May 16, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
  7. Elizabeth Parsons

    When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do? Psalm 11:3

    May 13, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
    • Bill

      Have you ever considered that the foundations were rotten to begin with, and that the word of christ has been distorted by false prophets? Personal faith can be a terrible barrier to spiritual and intellectual growth.

      May 13, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
    • logicdog

      Bill, you admit that "the foundations are rotten", and "false prophets" have corrupted the work? That is exactly the point of the article with which you try to take issue. Want to backtrack a little?

      May 17, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
  8. Steve T

    Face it – the Bible is a medieval comic book guiding those that can't figure out which way is up.

    May 13, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
    • Bill

      you're right ... all those silly ideas like love and peace and mercy and joy and grace and forgiveness ... who needs em right? let's stick with worldly values like greed and hate and bigotry and selfishness.

      May 14, 2011 at 8:25 am |
    • InFormed99

      And talking snakes. They're the best.

      May 16, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
    • George

      Love and peace and mercy and joy and grace and forgiveness all existed before the Bible was written. I don't need a cosmic cop breathing down my neck to be a good person. Maybe you do. If so, I hope you follow your religion to the grave, because it's apparently the only thing preventing you from being a murderer or rapist.

      May 17, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
  9. חֲנוֹךְ

    I find it amusing when people tell others to think for themselves want you to think like them.

    May 13, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
    • bp

      Not at all. We really do mean that. Im not out to try to destroy christianity and make all people non believers. I just get sick of the moronic responses that seem to permeate the christian community when it comes to any kind of logical conversation about the existence/non existence of god. Such ass how im going to burn in hell and etc etc. The only thing Im trying to do when I ask someone to think for themselves is to go actually do some research, take some classes, etc, then come back and have an educated discussion on the issue.

      May 13, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
  10. Fat Bobby Joe

    It's all a bunch of fairy tales anyway. Forged, plagiarized, made up by little elves who live in a tree. What's the difference?

    May 13, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
    • alamodefender

      if all you condemned atheists are so domn sure of yourselves,then shut up and stay away from religious articles.unless your disbelief needs constant reinforcement.

      May 17, 2011 at 6:55 pm |
  11. Bill

    Before the fundamentalists come in, they should really read some of Prof. Ehrman's stuff. His readers are used as texts at Yale and his books are fascinating and impeccably cited. And he def loves him his new testament

    May 13, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
  12. Gary

    Ehrman eliminated one truth in his hypothesis... Acts 2 – 1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues[a] as the Spirit enabled them.

    True they were simple, illiterate fishermen, but after the Holy Spirt came upon them, even old Peter who couldn't help but keep putting his foot in his mouth began to speak eloquently by the power of the Holy Spirt.

    May 13, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
    • Tohrm

      I see you are still holding your head under the pile of fertilizer known as the Bible. You want every single word to be "super-truth" but almost none of them are.
      I liked you better on SpongeBob.

      May 13, 2011 at 6:05 pm |
    • Bill

      Well said Gary ..
      and TOHRM -- Atheists claim they are tolerant and that Christians are not ... and yet your little rant here proves otherwise.
      Read the New Testament TOHRM ... its all about love and mercy and grace and forgiveness and joy. Northing about following rules, nothing about hate, nothing about excliusion.

      May 14, 2011 at 8:29 am |
    • citizenEP

      @Bill – But there's a whole heap in the NT about things like, slaves needing to obey their masters, and a woman's place and all that joyful, lovely, stuff. And the character of Jesus in this bible sure has some contradictory positions from that whole "love-fest" as well (Matthew 5:18–19, Luke 16:17, 2 Timothy 3:16, 2 Peter 20–21, John 7:19)

      Also, it is ridiculous to try and argue that the bible is NOT a compendium of forgeries by citing passages from it as proof of it's authenticity!! But again, actual logic seems to be a mutually exclusive thing to the true believers.

      May 14, 2011 at 7:07 pm |
  13. Dante

    This is nothing new people:

    Biblical scholars, real ones who act like historians, have long been uncertain about the authors of various texts.

    May 13, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
  14. Hz

    The 'scholar' is a retard because at the time of Christ people passed on most stories orally. Just like in the Old West where if you promised to pay someone $5 and didn't you would get strung up from a tree, in the past people took their reputation and word seriously. Eventually the stories would be written down. Although there certain were some books written directly by the Apostles as letters to various churches.

    May 13, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
    • Up Your Rear Admiral

      round 2: The schooler is a pretard.

      May 13, 2011 at 11:10 pm |
    • Up Your Rear Admiral

      round 3:
      The schooner has a lanyard.

      May 13, 2011 at 11:11 pm |
    • Up Your Rear Admiral

      round 4
      The crooner has a leotard.

      It's a known game, with consequences.

      May 13, 2011 at 11:13 pm |
    • logicdog

      Very clever, Admiral. . .but I don't think hz will get it. . .

      May 17, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
  15. Dano

    My question is this: How come there is so much stuff about Jesus on CNN and other news mediums these days? Can he really be as unimportant as atheists claim when people are still worshiping/debating about/rejecting him 2000 years later? Somehow, I don't think so.

    May 13, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
    • bp

      Just because Jesus is talked about a lot even 2000 years years later doesn't proove anything. We still talk about othr gods as well and that doesn't make those any more true.

      May 13, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
    • Andrew

      Lets see, with multiple states trying to get creationism taught in public schools under a "teach the controversy" idiocy, when you have churches making political statements despite being tax exempt, when you have people trying to prevent gays from getting married on the basis of "teh bible says being gay ist wrong", then I don't need to believe your garbage to vehemently argue against it. If there was a group of people who believed "there is a teapot orbiting Jupiter too small for us to detect which tells us that we should restrict the rights of others" and "we need to invest taxpayer money to fly to Jupiter to find the teapot", would you not stand up and call the teapot proponents out on their lunacy?

      If people weren't trying to fuse religion into aspects of our government and education, I wouldn't care what idiocy you believe.

      May 13, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
    • MashaSobaka

      I don't think you understand atheism. Like at all. Atheism doesn't claim that Christ wasn't an "important" figure – they just say that he wasn't the son of God, because there is no God. Christianity is very important, but that doesn't make it right or good or anything like that...it's important because it has been responsible for more murders and more barbarity than you can possibly imagine. People who dismiss its influence are idiots. In my humble opinion, the people who take it as unadulterated truth are also idiots.

      May 13, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
    • crucified

      @andrew are you gay?

      May 13, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
    • Andrew

      What? No, but how is that even relevant? Since when do you need to be gay to think it's an insult to humanity to deny other beings rights?

      May 13, 2011 at 6:31 pm |
    • crucified

      @andrew I asked if you were because you gave that in your reply as a rebuttle not to believe... and since it was a rebuttle..your motives would be because you were instead of you actually believing your cause.

      May 13, 2011 at 7:56 pm |
    • citizenEP

      By your logic, wouldn't that make Charlie Sheen a prophet? A messiah, perhaps?

      May 14, 2011 at 6:54 pm |
    • Shampoohorns

      Jesus wasn't unimportant, he just wasn't the son of god. As an athiest, I wish he was less important. But you know, Superman, unicorns, leprechauns and mermaids are "important" just not relevant or real.

      May 15, 2011 at 6:53 pm |
    • InFormed99

      And talking snakes. They're my favorite.

      May 16, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
    • George

      By that logic, we should all be Muslims.

      May 17, 2011 at 2:02 pm |
  16. OrgReligionIsFALSE

    Yeah anyone with half a brain knew this already.. most the whole thing is fake propaganda of enslavement and hate

    May 13, 2011 at 5:48 pm |
    • Bill

      Have you even read the New Testament??? Enslavement and hate??? NOWHERE is there anything about hate or condemnation or "you must follow the rules." In fact, the New Testament is all about freedom and free will and forgiveness of sins and mercy and grace and love and peace.
      Read Matthew, chapters 5-7 ..... then tell me all about your theory.
      Paul, for example .... kept stressing that while there were cultural accepted practices, that salvation had NOTHING to do with following rules. He stressed that salvation was based on faith alone .... and that through that faith, we acted in a way that showed mercy and love and grace to believers AND non-believers.

      May 14, 2011 at 8:21 am |
    • Shampoohorns

      Bill is all upset you pointed out all the nasty naughty bits in the bible. Xtians love to cherry pick the parts that give them warm fuzzies and ignore anything Old Testament unless it serves them. They do something bad and they are all Turn the other cheek and when they want to get revenge they get all Eye for an Eye. Bill should check out exactly hw many blatant contradictions are in the bible. One minute god is all forgiving and then gets all vengeful. So you can't win with Bill. He's gonna throw a little Matthew at you or a little Revelations here and there when it serves him. And he'll die and nothig will happen and whatever, cause he's dead anyway. The end.

      May 15, 2011 at 6:50 pm |
    • MarkR

      Any book recommending how to be a good poor person because your reward comes after death is a guidebook for imbeciles – how stupid do you have to be in order to accept this obvious fallacy? Just remember, folks, all those 'bad' wealthy slave owners don't get to share in your 'after-life' – suckers!
      Jesus believed Moses, the man who wrote the story of his own funeral, and the man who said god wanted the Israelites to bash (non-Israelite) babies heads against rocks, but he was a loving god – yeah, right!

      May 18, 2011 at 9:42 am |
  17. Sayem

    Of course God delivered his word to his pious servant, Jesus son of Maryam (May the peace and blessings be upon him). This word which we now call Bible has been long lost. This is not to say that the Bibles circulating now a days are all forgeries. There's some truth in them but some of the most fundamental precepts have been corrupted. Something that immeditely comes to mind is the concept of Trinity, which was introduced much later due to Roman/Hellenic influences of the new converts. After Jesus, there were around 70 gospels circulating around Christian communities of that time. At the Council of Nicea the no. of gospels was whittled to 4. Where did the remaining gospels go? Why were they banished? One such gospel was the Gospel of St. Barnabas, which has recently gained some interest.

    May 13, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
    • Up Your Rear Admiral

      Mumbo jumbo Maryam bobs your auntie la la la mumbo jumbo green eggs in your jam.

      -makes as much sense as yours

      May 14, 2011 at 10:28 am |
    • InFormed99

      120 'works' were cut down to 4. The rest were burned by Emperor Constantine. This is all well known. The rest were deemed to be 'offensive' or inconsistent (like the one that indicates that women need to have a s-ex change in order to enter heaven.

      May 16, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
  18. Lauren

    “Gullible Travels, for it reveals over and over again the willingness of people to believe even outrageous things.” <–Irony.

    May 13, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
    • Tohrm

      Ironic irony. It's all about gullibility – all of it.

      May 13, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
    • Bill

      Hey did you hear the wild, unbelievable story about a madman who murdered all the first born children in Judea??? What about the madman that murdered over 6 million Jews ?? oh wait .... the first one is fiction but the second one is fact? Why? Historical records are historical record. They may be 2,000 years old but facts are facts.

      May 14, 2011 at 8:17 am |
    • citizenEP

      Bill, you just keep flogging that brilliant logical deduction. Keep it up and maybe one day it might actually be valid.


      You are correct that facts are indeed facts, but the leap that because something was written down and claimed as fact is all the validation it needs to be accepted as fact. of course, that slight of hand has been the M.O. of the church for over 2000 years.

      May 14, 2011 at 6:49 pm |
  19. Jeff L.

    It amazes me that this is considered news. I went to a conservative christian university where everyone had to take 2 years of bible studies, and even there, we discussed that many of Paul's letters were not necessarily written by Paul and that the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were not written by those people either. This is only news to CNN apparently and many who have never truly studied the bible.

    May 13, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
    • jcg

      I was gonna say it's kinda well known. Same with the Old Testament too.

      May 13, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
    • P

      The problem is, that for every 1 person that already knows this, there are thousands of fat women in their WWJD? t-shirts that will raise hades from the ground itself if you deny that every letter of the "gawds word" isn't the absolute irrefutable truth.

      May 13, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
    • Nan

      What you obviously don't realize is that most people have NOT "studied" the bible. Twelve years of a Catholic education and I can honestly say I did not "study 'the bible. It was read to me each Sunday in Church........that's all. So, for CNN to report on this IS big news. But, it's no surprise to me. As I matured, I came to realize (through self-education) that all religions (and their "sacred" texts) were created by humans.

      May 13, 2011 at 6:06 pm |
    • Flaming Moderate Wacko

      Tell that to the pseudo Christians, like Sean Hannity, over at Clusterfawks Nooz.

      May 13, 2011 at 6:09 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      P mentions "thousands of fat women"

      I'll have you know that not all christian nutcases are fat... Ann Coulter is one... and what about that former Governor of Alaska?

      May 13, 2011 at 6:30 pm |
    • citizenEP

      Ann Coulter is about as religious as she is fat. Just because a performer plays to a certain type of crowd, doesn't mean they share any common beliefs. Same goes for Huckabee, Gingrich, et al.

      May 14, 2011 at 6:45 pm |
    • InFormed99

      The only people who actually 'study' the bible are atheists. How ironic.

      May 16, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
  20. frank

    Just lol at a fisherman needing to be literate.

    May 13, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
    • Tohrm

      Yeah, fishermen did not need contracts or anything like that back then. All of their training was on how to work on a boat – what ropes to use, how to sail with the wind, etc. All a fisherman needs to do is fish. No writing needed at any time – they had scribes for that if it ever came up.
      99.999 percent of those people were illiterate. Trying to survive meant working, not reading.

      May 13, 2011 at 6:00 pm |
    • Marilee

      That cracked me up too-perhaps he could say that about fishermen today, but how does he know how fishermen ran their businesses back then? All they'd really have to do is catch the fish, bring it to market and sell it. Why would you need to write contracts up? That is something from our age, where you have to watch your back so you don't get sued.

      May 13, 2011 at 6:08 pm |
    • Caesar's Messiah

      Read Caesar's Messiah and learn what that fisher of men thing was really about... Quite gruesome .

      May 14, 2011 at 6:21 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.