Posts Tagged ‘Bart D. Ehrman’

Is the New Testament full of lies?

April 3, 2011

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I got this link from a friend of a friend, Cedric Klein. He posted this response to Bart Ehrman’s latest book, “Forged”, in which he contends that many of the New Testament books are simply forgeries, not written by the authors named. That is, about half of Paul’s letters First and Second Peter, James and Jude were not written those apostles. What is more, Dr. Ehrman says that most if not all Bible scholars know this.

To be honest, I am not impressed with this line of reasoning, for the simple reason that I don’t see any way to prove the matter one way or another. And, it seems to me to be a little presumptuous to believe that a scholar is able to know more about the authorship of any document two-thousand years after it was written than someone who lived within a generation of the writers. The early church leaders who first put together the New Testament canon were certainly aware of the existence of forged or spurious works attributed to various apostles and they did go through quite a bit of effort to weed them out.

It seems to me that some of the skepticism regarding New Testament authorship follows the reasoning that Peter or Paul would not or could not have written something like that, so therefore he did not. But, to tell the truth, we do not know how or what they could have written since their only surviving writings are in the Bible.

Take Peter, for example. We only have First and Second Peter as possible examples of his writing. What can we compare them to? It is widely believed that Peter could not have written the two letters because the Greek is too elegant for an illiterate fisherman who did not even speak Greek. However, we do not; in fact know that Peter was illiterate, though he likely was. Aramaic was his native language, but it was very likely that he spoke some Greek. In any event, he, and the other New Testament writers used scribes or secretaries, who had some freedom in choosing the words to express the ideas of their employers.

Given the use of scribes, it seems to me that it would not be easy, or even possible to make any definite conclusion that someone wrote this Gospel, or someone could not have written that letter. That being the case, I am going to tend to trust the judgment of those closest in time to the actual writing of the New Testament.

I realize that the question is quite a bit more complicated than this but this post is already going longer than I had intended, so I’ll stop for now.


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