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Misquoting Jesus Book Review

1384 words - 6 pages

Misquoting Jesus: The story behind who changed the Bible and why
After finishing reading Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why by Bart D. Ehrman, I want to deliver some comments on the book, as well as the way Ehrman presented his argument. On the overall, this book is easy to read and understand. That is the purpose of Ehrman when he wrote the book on textual criticism for a lay audience “…who know nothing about textual criticism but who might like to learn something about how scribes were changing scripture and about how we can recognize where they did so”. I think this is also the main thesis of Misquoting Jesus. Throughout this book, Ehrman wants to point out ...view middle of the document...

However, to conduct further research, Ehrman became more like an agnostic.
In the first chapter, Ehrman wants to emphasize that Christianity, similar to Judaism, is a textually oriented religion. For the Jewish people, “traditions, customs and laws …had been recorded in sacred books, which had the status, therefore, of ‘scripture’”. And for Christians, books were at the very heart of them. Ehrman states, “Letters were important to the lives of early Christian communities because a number of letters included in the New Testament unified faith and the practices of the Christians. These letters, formed the Christian canon of scripture. In this chapter, Ehrman also shows problems of the illiteracy for the early Christians. “Besides exceptions like Apostle Paul and other authors whose works made it into the New Testament and who were obviously skilled writers, Christians came from the ranks of illiterate”. Despite that fact, however, Christianity was a highly literary religion.
Chapter two is about the copyists of the early Christian writings. Back to ancient times, all texts were copied manually which allowed for the possibilities of errors. As we may know, early New Testament documents were written in Greek, and “ one of the problems with ancient Greek texts ... is that when they were copied, no marks of punctuation were used, no distinction made between lowercase and uppercase letters, and, even more bizarre to modern readers, no spaces to separate words.”, Ehrman states. This kind of writing obviously can cause mistakes in transcription multiply. During the first two or three hundred years of the church, Christian text were not copied by professional scribes, but by amateur copyists who were more likely to make mistakes. And these amateur copyists occasionally changed the content of the text, " ... most changes are the result of mistakes, pure and simple: slips of the pen. Accidental omissions, inadvertent additions, misspelled words, blunders of one sort or another." The changes became permanent and got compounded by time. Then Ehrman gives out an example of Paul’ letter to the Galatians. Paul might have dictated to a scribe and if Paul dictated the letter, there would be some sort of uncertainties which resulted in various incorrect copies. Ehrman concludes the chapter with discussion about two passages from the Gospel but not originally in the New Testament. The story about the women taken in adultery, in John 7:53-8:12 was not originally part of any of the gospels. It was added by later scribes. The last twelve verses of Mark is a terrific, mysterious, moving, and powerful passage but is also added by scribes.
Chapter three takes us to the fourth century and later, when the professional scribes took over. They were highly educated and literate people converted to Christian. Later on, the monks who lived in monasteries spent their days to copy Greek scriptures carefully and consistently. Then a large number of the Christian scared texts...

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