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Old 05-17-2011, 12:37 PM   #1
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the New Testament was forged

just saying.

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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.”

Half of New Testament forged, Bible scholar says – CNN Belief Blog - CNN.com Blogs
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Old 05-17-2011, 01:11 PM   #2
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This argument is never going to end. You are always goi.ng to have one side pointing out the human flaws of the Bible and the other side still believing that it is still all written according to God's wishes for it.

All of these news articles just seem to be wanting to stir up controversies for their own gains, and quite frankly, I'm just bored with it at this point.
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Old 05-17-2011, 01:16 PM   #3
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Not exactly a "new" revelation, overall. The prefaces to each book in Catholic Bibles and sometimes the verse footnotes themselves have often commented on issues of authenticity and/or multiple authors.

Certainly, Ehrman is looking to stir the pot by using words like "forgery" and "lies," but I think some of this is historical revisionism. I think most of it likely comes down to what happens when you're dealing with an era reliant on oral and handwritten communication. Couple this with general disinterest in modern ideas of "authenticity" and "preservation"--hell, Italy was pecking away at Roman ruins to erect new buildings well past the Middle Ages--and I think it was just a given that early Christian evangelists would insert their own ideas into manuscripts. In fact, it still happens today every time an archaic Hebrew/Greek word is translated into modern phrasing.

Basically, "Biblical fundamentalism" is one of those interesting ideas that would take an inordinate amount of education to master in practice.
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Old 05-17-2011, 01:26 PM   #4
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Excellent post

Good to see you again.
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Old 05-17-2011, 01:32 PM   #5
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The problem here is use of the word "forgery." We have almost no original documents surviving from antiquity, so the copies that we do have invariably show the signs of having changed over the years in terms of manuscript revisions, oral transmission, and scribe errors. In that sense, nothing that survives from antiquity, be it Plato or the letters of Paul, is in its "original" form.
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Old 05-17-2011, 02:20 PM   #6
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I agree with Melon that Ehrman seems to being looking to sensationalize things by describing inconsistencies as "forgeries and lies", but his premise is something I've questioned personally for several years. I think the Bible is a valuable guide for one's spiritual life, for life in general, but I have a hard time accepting the argument a lot of people put forward, which is that the Bible is infallible: it says exactly what God intends for it to say & every word is to be taken at face value, with there being no such thing as 'multiple interpretations'. Knowing mankind's desire for mastery over each other, I think it's feasible to expect that certain aspects of the book were written to suit the writer & keep the uneducated followers 'in line'. Of course, in the instances that I may mention this belief, I'm usually met with gasps & looks of horror - tarred & feathered as a blasphemer for having doubts and/or the audacity to not accept what I've been taught. Personally, I think my Maker wants me to use my brain to think for myself. Funny how independent thought can be so honored & so reviled, depending on the context.
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Old 05-17-2011, 02:24 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BluRmGrl View Post
Personally, I think my Maker wants me to use my brain to think for myself.


you know, this is kind of profound, or at least i found it to be on a cloudy Tuesday afternoon.

if something written in Scripture feels wrong, if it doesn't make sense to you, if you've grappled with it and you can't make sense of it, then guess what, you're probably right. to hide behind, "well, my religion tells me so and therefore that's why i believe it," is a total crock of shit.

god did give you a brain. he expects you to use it, even if it might appear as if you are violating one of "his" rules (that was probably forged anyway).

use your brain.
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Old 05-17-2011, 02:35 PM   #8
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Thank you, Irvine - I certainly didn't expect to say anything today that you would define as even remotely profound! (I generally feel your knowledge/intellect on most matters way out measures my own.)
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Old 05-17-2011, 02:52 PM   #9
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well what struck me was that maybe it really is that simple, and i swear i once heard a nun say that there's something in Catholic teaching that essentially says that you should, essentially, always let your conscience be your guide, even when it comes to Scripture. like, do you really think the world was made in 7 days? do you really think animals were lined up two-by-two and put on an Ark? do you really think that women shouldn't be allowed to speak in church? do you really think that being gay is an abomination?

we could go even further -- do you really think that Jesus walked on water? turned water into wine? raised Lazarus from the dead? does it dilute the message if these points aren't literally true? perhaps these are all points of access for our limited human minds to begin to process the unprocessable and to think about that which is unthinkable.

we have only our brain, it's our greatest tool and also our greatest limitation.
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Old 05-17-2011, 03:01 PM   #10
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Very good chance there is more truth in Clifford Irving's Howard Hughes autobiography than there is in the Bible.

But, conditioning and group think will cause 'believers' to deny this.
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Old 05-17-2011, 04:01 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Irvine511 View Post
well what struck me was that maybe it really is that simple, and i swear i once heard a nun say that there's something in Catholic teaching that essentially says that you should, essentially, always let your conscience be your guide, even when it comes to Scripture. like, do you really think the world was made in 7 days? do you really think animals were lined up two-by-two and put on an Ark? do you really think that women shouldn't be allowed to speak in church? do you really think that being gay is an abomination?

we could go even further -- do you really think that Jesus walked on water? turned water into wine? raised Lazarus from the dead? does it dilute the message if these points aren't literally true? perhaps these are all points of access for our limited human minds to begin to process the unprocessable and to think about that which is unthinkable.

we have only our brain, it's our greatest tool and also our greatest limitation.

And I always ask...does it really matter? I was taught that the old testament stories are that...stories, but that they illustrate a broader "truth" about the nature of the relationships between creation, people, and God. Whether or not any of it actually happened does not change my understanding of "the point" of those chapters. It does not change how I feel about God and Jesus or what I believe or why. I've never understood why people get so defensive and act like their world is falling apart because I suggest that these chapters are not (and weren't intended to be) historical, factual accounts.

So I ask myself, do I really need to have and believe in the parables and the accounts of Jesus exactly as they are written in the NIV to believe what I believe? Mmmm, probably not.
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Old 05-17-2011, 04:27 PM   #12
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some would argue, including say Bono, that we need to have evidence of Jesus's divinity (via miracles) in order to substantiate the claim that he was the one they'd all been waiting for (not just a prophet, god incarnate), or else doesn't everything else fall apart?
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Old 05-17-2011, 04:46 PM   #13
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the 'miracles' are the weakest argument,

hang your hat on that, it will surely fall to the ground.
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Old 05-17-2011, 06:24 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Irvine511 View Post

use your brain.
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Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become “fools” so that you may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness" and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.”
--1 Corinthians 3:18-20
Or better yet, ask for Godly wisdom from the One who gave us that brain.

Not debating theology with you, just suggesting an alternative.
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Old 05-17-2011, 06:26 PM   #15
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So, "Don't think for yourself!"

They were damn thorough, those forgers.
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