Bart Ehrman – Forged: A Book Review

Most of us know that some books in the New Testament were not written by the person claimed in the book—such as 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus. Ehrman calls these books forgeries, which at first sounded a bit harsh to me. I had often repeated the explanation I heard from others that, though these books were not from Paul, they were written by his disciples in the spirit and authority of Paul’s teaching, which was a common practice among ancient students. What’s wrong with that?

Ehrman says there is plenty wrong with that assumption. He surveys how genuine authors in antiquity responded to such books, and they were NOT happy. They flat-out called them forgeries. Then he showed how early Christians were also unhappy with such books and considered them forgeries as well.

I found Ehrman somewhat convincing on this point and had to agree that books like 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus are, indeed, deceitful forgeries.

Forged: Writing in the Name of God--Why the Bible’s Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are

New Testament Books in Four Categories

Ehrman discusses various categories of ancient books, including New Testament books.

Homonymous books are written by the person who claims to have written it. This includes Romans, Galatians, 1 and 2 Corinthians, 1 Thessalonians, Philippians, and Philemon. Ehrman also includes the book of Revelation which claims to be written by a John but not by John the apostle, so if someone assumes him to be the apostle it isn’t the author’s fault. 8 books.

Anonymous books. Many New Testament books do not name the author at all. This would include the four Gospels, Acts, 1, 2, and 3 John, and Hebrews—9 books.

Pseudepigraphal books are anonymous books to which a name has been attached by someone other than the author; the author is not attempting to deceive. This is the four Gospels. I don’t know why the three letters of John are not included here. 4 books.

Forgeries claim to be written by an author who did not write them and are deceitful by intention. Ehrman lists in this category Acts, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, 2 Thessalonians, Ephesians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Peter, Jude, and James. 11 books.

Ehrman considers 41% of the 27 New Testament books to be forgeries. I think that pushes the idea too far. There could be other reasons a person’s name is incorporated into a book they did not write.

Where I Do Not Find Ehrman to be Persuasive

I am now convinced that it might be appropriate to call the books of Timothy and Titus forgeries though I previously was not. But sometimes I do NOT find Ehrman convincing.

Acts. Even though Acts is anonymous, Ehrman thinks the author attempted, with the ‘we passages’, to lead people to believe he was Luke—which makes Acts a forgery. Ehrman does not think the author of Acts was a follower of Paul because of discrepancies with what Paul says about himself. These objections seem thin to me and a different understanding could be just as likely. I am not persuaded.

Matthew and Luke. Ehrman accuses the authors of Matthew and Luke of stealing for taking Mark’s work and publishing it as their own. But neither anonymous author suggests that his work is his own, and Luke even mentions that he had sources.

2 Thessalonians. Ehrman considers this book a forgery in part because 1 Thessalonians indicates that Jesus’ return is imminent while this book says that other things must happen first.

Illiteracy. Ehrman rejects the stated authorship of some books, in part, because the people associated with the books were illiterate and incapable of such writing. I think—using secretaries!

Secretaries. Anticipating my objection (not really, for this is a common suggestion), Ehrman dismisses the secretary theory because the Greek is so polished that it would essentially have to be written by the secretary. Why is this difficult? I accept the letters as being from the authors as long as they approved the result.

I think there are weak arguments elsewhere as well. You read it and decide.

More About the Book

Forged (2011) is the first of two books Ehrman wrote on this subject. It is about 300 pages long, and the style is very accessible to the general reader. There are notes in the back of the book, but they are not extensive and can easily be ignored with little loss to the content. If you like ancient Christian literature you should really enjoy this book as Ehrman does not limit himself only to the New Testament but also discusses Christian forgeries in the centuries after Jesus.

Ehrman’s second book on the topic is Forgery and Counterforgery: The Use of Literary Deceit in Early Christian Polemics (2013). This book is much more in-depth with extensive footnotes at the bottom of the page and is about 600 pages long. However, it is still quite accessible to the general reader. Ehrman sometimes uses Greek, but it is not extensive and can be ignored by the non-Greek reader with little loss. So don’t be afraid of choosing this volume for the more in-depth content; Ehrman does not talk above the non-scholar’s head.

These books were recommended to me by a regular reader of Jesus without Baggage. When I told them I already had a long reading list, they offered an Amazon gift certificate to cover the cost of the larger book which they heavily recommended. Well, how could I turn that down! However, being the cheap bibliophile that I am, I bought used copies of both books for the value of the gift certificate. Thanks anonymous reader!

I read the first book and am working on large sections of the second book in areas where I am most interested. I will either scan or read the remainder of the book later.

Even if you disagree with Ehrman, I don’t think you will be disappointed with either of these books.

Do ‘Forged’ New Testament Books Still Have Value?

The fact that some New Testament books are mis-attributed brings up a practical question—are these documents inerrant? Do they still have value? We will talk about that next time.

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70 Responses to Bart Ehrman – Forged: A Book Review

  1. scraffiti says:

    Really good post this, Tim. I am a Bart Ehrman fan. I have recently read ‘Misquoting Jesus’ and currently reading ‘How Jesus Became God’. I also have ‘Jesus before the Gospels’ and ‘Jesus, Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Testament’ – last year’s Christmas presents still unread (please don’t tell the wife)! He is also a formidable debater as revealed in various Youtube videos. As you say, for an academic he is highly readable and actually quite addictive. I do know that he sends out his draft manuscripts to other learned bodies for scrutiny and edits extensively before publication. I am neither clever or knowledgeable enough to know whether he is right or wrong but he is certainly a most scintillating read and clearly knows his stuff. I look forward to the rest of your post.

    Liked by 2 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Scrafitti, this is the second book I have read by Ehrman and I am impressed. Previously I read his title, ‘Did Jesus Exist’, which was also very good. Thanks for the suggestions; I look forward to reading more of his work when I can.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. ancadudar says:

    Tim,

    “I found Ehrman extremely convincing on this point and had to agree that books like 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus are, indeed, deceitful forgeries.”

    Yes, they are deceitful indeed in a way beyond even the author of 2 Peter or Ephesians I would say in that they went to such lengths in falsifying personal details such as “Paul” asking for his coat and books! The Church is still suffering today on account of what the Pastorals teach – teaching for the first time subordination in the creation account – and the Church ministry going from full body participation of gifted believers to just a Pastor, Elders, and some deacons- all men.

    “Acts. Even though Acts is anonymous, Ehrman thinks the author attempted, with the ‘we passages’, to lead people to believe he was Luke—which makes Acts a forgery. Ehrman does not think the author of Acts was a follower of Paul because of discrepancies with what Paul says about himself. These objections seem thin to me and a different understanding could be just as likely. I am not persuaded.”

    I do not believe Acts is a forgery. There is a better explanation that the author was putting together a summary of events decades later for his Patron.

    “Why would Luke have waited twenty years or more from his arrival in Rome with Paul to his composition of Luke-Acts? The explanation could be very simple: after twenty years, Luke had received a copy of Mark’s Gospel and decided to write his own version of the story, putting things in order (over against the “many” who have written before him) based on his own investigations, in response to the prompting of his patron, most excellent Theophilus. See the prologue–it doesn’t say, “Whew! I just got to Rome and Paul might be killed soon, so let me tell the story of how it all began when I’m still busy making it happen!” Rather, it says, “Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.” Perhaps Luke took a visit to the holy land to do more investigation of the subject and interview these servants of the word. In any case, the author of Luke in the prologue indicates that he wrote his great work at a time that was (1) at the prompting of Theophilus, likely his patron and (2) when “many” had already written accounts, which Luke would like to set in order and (3) after carefully investigating everything as handed down by the servants of the word. This fits best a time after which Luke had settled down to do teaching of his own, not when he was waiting on the results of the trial of his mentor Paul.”
    http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/acts.html

    Ephesians has some jewels in it but is devastating to Christian marriages! Slaves were brutally beaten by Christian masters and told to endure it on account of 1 Peter! It was better if these books had never been written. They muddied the waters where Paul’s original message about the equality of all believers became a useless one where women and slaves were still kept in chains, and women in Christendom still are until this day.

    Liked by 3 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Anca, thank you so much for introducing me to these books! And thanks also for the segment and link to the very interesting article at Early Christian Writings.

      I like your observation on the Pastorals that, “they went to such lengths in falsifying personal details such as “Paul” asking for his coat and books!” This deception goes far beyond simply beginning the letters with ‘I Paul.’

      I agree with you that “The Church is still suffering today on account of what the Pastorals teach”. A number of these forged books have really damaged Christian thinking by introducing issues in the name of respected leaders like Paul and Peter that Paul and Peter would not likely ever write. I think it is important for us to recognize the books from respected followers of Jesus and those from ‘who knows!’ They are certainly not of the same value.

      I point out some of these teachings in the next article.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I remember learning about all the claims for and against many books of the Bible. When you say that we “know” some are forgeries, is that a statement of certainty based on some objective evidence?

    Liked by 2 people

    • ancadudar says:

      There are words used in some of them that did not exist until the second century. The same with new meanings attached to Paul’s use of words that did not develop until the emergence of early Catholicism. The theology for the same Author contradicts at times, in either case, it is a problem when the theology for the same named author contradicts in ways that cannot be reconciled thus either requiring one to be by another author or requiring that the Author changed their theological view at a later point. We are not just speaking of a further development of the theology by the author, but a flat-out contradiction which would make the first view false or no longer applicable then. That has huge implications for “inerrancy” and “inspiration”.

      I find that the methods used by scholars to test for authenticity are objective methods. However, often times the methods used by conservative scholars as a rebuttal in favor of authorship are very subjective methods and hypotheticals in nature in explaining away discrepancies.

      For example, one Apologist claimed that 1 Timothy was quoted 450 times by the early Church Father’s before it’s official mention as an Epistle of Paul’s by Irenaeus in 170 CE.
      I traced as many of the links to the quotes he referenced and it was astonishing!
      What was astonishing was the fact that out of a hundred quotes, they all only quoted variations of the same thing, the same fragments of two verses only.

      “For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.” AND “The love of money is the root of all evil.”

      Those two verses usually not at the same time, not the complete sentence of each verse, and some words even switched around and modified. So out of the whole Book of 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus, only half a verse was quoted by different Church Fathers and the same two verses every time? I then realized that it must have been a popular Patristic saying among the Churches or something universally traditional that was used in their Liturgies, and the author of 1 Timothy included it in their own Epistle, not the other way around.

      Liked by 3 people

      • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

        Excellent point, Anca! “I find that the methods used by scholars to test for authenticity are objective methods. However, often times the methods used by conservative scholars as a rebuttal in favor of authorship are very subjective methods and hypotheticals in nature in explaining away discrepancies.”

        Liked by 1 person

  4. jesuswithoutbaggage says:

    Good question, Prog Mind. I think scholarship in general has established that a number of New Testament books were not written by whom they claim to be written. And I think Ehrman’s book makes this point even more convincing.

    Some of the evidence has to do with language usage, themes and perspectives, and issues from the time they are written that are inconsistent with the time of the claimed writings.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. newtonfinn says:

    This week’s post by Tim addresses an absolutely crucial subject…and a difficult and painful one for many Christians. At stake is not only the integrity of the NT as it came to be (by negotiation and compromise) “approved” as the official scripture of the church, but also, assuming that genuine issues have been raised by Ehrman and others with regard to that integrity, how one who would follow Jesus today (cognizant of these issues) might attempt to discern between legitimate and illegitimate material in that “official” NT corpus. For me, this does not come down to speculations, however ingenious and well-grounded, about who wrote what and how and why, but rather to the single question of how closely each NT book (or portion thereof) reflects the spirit of Jesus.

    I remain convinced that this spirit can be gleaned from a series of strikingly consistent sayings, parables, and stories found within the synoptic gospels (and, to a lesser but sometimes significant extent, in John). Taking this series as a whole, one grasps a rather vivid and compelling portrait of a particular first century Jew, who though time and culture bound as all human beings are, nevertheless brought a message–and lived a life–of elemental and universal significance. It’s been said repeatedly by Tim and others that the heart of the Christian faith is that God sent us, as His ultimate revelation, not a book but a man. All of the book known collectively as the NT does not capture that man, but he does live within its pages for those who seek him. And once found there, he then comes as he has always come, upon invitation, to live in our hearts.

    Liked by 2 people

    • ancadudar says:

      “For me, this does not come down to speculations, however ingenious and well-grounded, about who wrote what and how and why, but rather to the single question of how closely each NT book (or portion thereof) reflects the spirit of Jesus.”
      Amen! Your whole post is beautifully written.

      Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Newton, I totally agree! “For me, this does…come down to…the single question of how closely each NT book (or portion thereof) reflects the spirit of Jesus.” And I love your brilliant observation that, “God sent us, as His ultimate revelation, not a book but a man.” Very well said!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. sheila0405 says:

    I finally started “Jesus Before the Gospels” by Ehrman, which seems to be tackling the question of memory. It’s hard because I purchased a paperback and I’m used to my Kindle. Handling the pages and trying to see the text in less than optimal lighting has been problematic. I’m glad you are reading some Ehrman. His opinions are great fodder for discussion!

    Liked by 2 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Sheila, once you have finished reading “Jesus Before the Gospels” I hope you are able to share your thoughts with us. I have not read that book.

      Liked by 2 people

      • sheila0405 says:

        Check out my new post “Whatever Happened to Joe Isuzu?” Your thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks, Tim.

        Liked by 1 person

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Good article, Sheila. I avoid discussion politics on this site, but I cannot understand how Evangelicals can support him as they do; it just doesn’t make sense to me. I know a big part of their driving support is to overturn LGBT rights and abortion rights, but what are they giving up in trying to achieve those goals? What damage are they doing the Evangelical reputation with their loyal association with him?

          I consider myself to be a theologically progressive Evangelical, but I don’t mention it anymore because of the situation of past couple years.

          I like your Joe Isuzu connection.

          Like

  7. Tim Ellison says:

    looking forward to your next blog on innerancy. it is nonsense of course.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. tonycutty says:

    It’s funny, though. When I read the opening passage of Ephesians, I still feel the Spirit rising up within me and crying out ‘Yes! Yes!’ That passage is just so effervescent and full of joy that the words just fly off the page. Whoever it was written by, and no matter how deceitful the writer was, or intended to be, still the writing is inspiring.

    Which makes me wonder: ‘All scripture is God-breathed…’ etc. could also be translated as ‘All God-inspired writings…’ (and yes I know Paul didn’t necessarily write that!) So, does that mean that all writings inspired by someone’s beliefs are somehow ‘useful’ to the believer? If you think about it, the writings of well-respected Christians such as Billy Graham would rarely be questioned by their readers. Does that mean that those books by Dr. Graham have been elevated to the level of Scripture? No, or at least I’m sure no Christian would admit it!. But I think it’s fair to say that many people read those books, and his interpretation of Scripture, as if they are absolutely correct; therefore *almost* as ‘inspired’ as Scripture.

    How much therefore is ‘Jesus Without Baggage’ Scripture, given that all of your work, Tim, is inspired by your deep faith? How much of my blog is Scripture? Now, neither of us would claim that our blogs are Scripture, but most of our work is indeed inspired writing *because * it is inspired by our faith. At least, they are inspired as much as our example of Billy Graham.

    Therefore, I believe that *any inspired writing through which the Spirit can speak* is ‘useful’ for equipping the person of faith. Sure, the Bible holds a special place for most Christians, but if truth be told, there’s a lot more that we are inspired by, in literary terms, than just the Bible.

    Liked by 2 people

    • newtonfinn says:

      I think that the concept of continuing revelation is vitally important to Christian faith. For what other reason is there a Holy Spirit?

      Liked by 3 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Tony, you raise a really good point, and I am glad you did! I feel the same way. For me, just because we think Ephesians was not written by Paul does not mean it is of no value.When I read the book of 1 John, an anonymous book ascribed later to John, I think, ‘If John, the disciple, did not write this (and I don’t know one way or the other), who is the genius who did!’ I would love to know the answer, but the value is in the writing itself–not the author. It rings true!

      So it does not bother me much that Ephesians is claimed to be written by Paul when it might not have been. I don’t know how that claim came about–it might not have been the writer’s intention. Perhaps someone else inserted Paul’s name in an early manuscript that was then picked up in later copies. Who knows?

      However, I do keep in mind that it might not have been written by Paul so that I am not influenced simply out of my admiration of Paul. However, I don’t feel quite the same way about the Pastoral Epistles (1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus). I think this is where Ehrman is most convincing in his accusations of deceit, as the author seems to go out of his way to enhance the artifice of the letters being from Paul, while the issues in the books seem to come clearly from a period well after Paul’s death.

      So I read the Pastorals extremely critically and find many problems in the content that we need not accept as appropriate for us today, though there still may be value in some things the author says. We will talk about the Pastorals in the next article.

      I love your conclusion, “Therefore, I believe that *any inspired writing through which the Spirit can speak* is ‘useful’ for equipping the person of faith. Sure, the Bible holds a special place for most Christians, but if truth be told, there’s a lot more that we are inspired by, in literary terms, than just the Bible.”

      I sometimes say that I am frequently inspired by CS Lewis, Issac Asimov, and other writers. But that does not make them inerrant. Thanks for your excellent comment!

      Liked by 2 people

      • ancadudar says:

        “Tony, you raise a really good point, and I am glad you did! I feel the same way. For me, just because we think Ephesians was not written by Paul does not mean it is of no value. When I read the book of 1 John, an anonymous book ascribed later to John, I think, ‘If John, the disciple, did not write this (and I don’t know one way or the other), who is the genius who did!’ I would love to know the answer, but the value is in the writing itself–not the author. It rings true!”

        Tim, I feel the same way about 1 John, and especially about the Book of James, but now ask a woman and wife how she feels about Ephesians 5 when her husband lords it over her! I wonder how the slaves felt about it? I think the household codes went in direct opposition to the original Paul. If someone was going to forge something in the name of Paul, they should have stuck to developing a further theology in spiritual matters and not enslave half of the members of the church. The worst thing they could have done was to enforce a caste system in the name of Paul.

        Liked by 2 people

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Anca, I like James as well. I stand solidly with you that some passages in Ephesians seem contrary to Paul’s genuine teaching. I think Paul really believed in equality in the church.

          Liked by 2 people

    • ancadudar says:

      tonycutty,
      “It’s funny, though. When I read the opening passage of Ephesians, I still feel the Spirit rising up within me and crying out ‘Yes! Yes!’ That passage is just so effervescent and full of joy that the words just fly off the page. Whoever it was written by, and no matter how deceitful the writer was, or intended to be, still the writing is inspiring.”

      Many Christians find Ephesians to be a blessing and jewel to them, they consider it inspiring. I, on the other hand, find it to be one of the most devastating to Christian marriages possible. I am connected to a network of Christians that help abused women, and Ephesians five is one of the biggest contributors to the abuse their husbands have enacted on them. Consider that a very prominent pastor with a huge following said that his wife has to ask him for permission and is subject to him for even a trip to the park or for what restaurant she wants to eat at. Some husbands deny their wife a right to have a job and then cut them out of having access to the husband’s bank account and require that she ask him permission for even a ten dollar purchase. She has to ask, explain what and why she wants to buy something and then accept his verdict. This passage has been used by governments to deny women any legal autonomy. The Council of Trent passed a law that said a wife was not to leave the house for any reason without permission from her husband, and they used Ephesians five as the reason. This stayed in effect for almost 1000 years. They also used Ephesians to make murdering your wife legal without punishment but made it high treason on top of murder if a woman murdered her husband, even in self-defense. Till this day Pastors teach that a husband should control their wife and make all of the family decisions and wives must submit to everything the husband wants except for sin. Sin request are irrelevant, it’s already abuse to be ruled over and controlled and have no authority over your own life and in your family. It was really not wise for the Author to compare a husbands function within marriage to Christ who is divine and assign a subordinate role to the wife having to live a life of obedience like the Church supposedly does. The love commands to the husband are useless once he is made superior and the wife inferior. The way men have taken the love commands is that they will make all of the decisions for their wives but put her best interest first. So basically take a capable adult woman and put her in an adult diaper for the rest of her life while her husband thinks and decides what is best for her. So even the “love” he has for her is still authoritative and parenting in nature. The original Paul said husband and wife had equal privileges, and it should have been left at that.

      I don’t throw all of Ephesians out as some parts are useful and beautiful, but it does not have the same integrity and weight to me that the gospels or Paul writings do.

      Also, if we understood how powerful Paul’s original use of the whole Church body imagery was compared to the later images of Christ as head and Church as His body, there is a huge difference. Original Paul did not mean for us to be a spiritual body following a head, he meant for us to be a physical body on earth taking action as a representation of Christ’s physical body existing on earth by acting out love, justice, and mercy on the earth, not some Body that meets only in buildings learning about and worshiping its spiritual Head.

      Liked by 3 people

      • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

        Anca, I agree with you on both counts.

        1. “Many Christians find Ephesians to be a blessing and jewel to them, they consider it inspiring. I, on the other hand, find it to be one of the most devastating to Christian marriages possible.”

        2. “I don’t throw all of Ephesians out as some parts are useful and beautiful, but it does not have the same integrity and weight to me that the gospels or Paul writings do.”

        I really appreciate your comment and the proper balance it demonstrates.

        Liked by 2 people

  9. Quadratus says:

    Yeah, those were some illiterate times! Probably why there was a whole ‘scribal culture’ back then. That would’ve been a cool profession – producing documents from others’ knowledge, collecting documents, editing, etc.

    Liked by 2 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Quadratus, I agree. I think it would have been interesting work being a scribe in those times.

      Like

      • Quadratus says:

        Yeah, it seems that back in those illiterate days scribes were very much counted on to record in writing the traditions, etc of the day. I’m pretty sure that a good case can be made that scribes were the ones who curated, preserved, made copies, and collected information for presentation If not the scribes, then who else? Right? But I’m not as sure that a good case can be made for the documents being preserved, copied, created, curated, collated, presented, etc., by the scribes would have the names of the scribes attached to them though. I think that back in those times it was much more traditional to name the ‘source’ and/or the person of ‘authority’ behind the material.

        Liked by 1 person

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Quadratus, I think you are right. I imagine that scribes would not insert their own names into other people’s material.

          Like

  10. Lana says:

    Good post. I’m not entirely convinced by Erhman’s accounts. It may be fair to say that deception in terms of forgery was considered wrong. But on the other note, I would need scholarship that copying from a source Q or another gospel – whatever theory is accurate there – was wrong by default. I know that putting your name on someone else’s poetry has always been called out, because you can’t just steal someone else’s creative work (verbatim poetry plagiarism was certainly called out in ancient Greek times), but using someone else’s information or ideas, and perhaps even peripheral wording, without citation, was not the academic crime it is under capitalism, where ideas make money or go towards your tenure or guest lectures at prestigious universities. In the context of the gospels, using a source Q to get information right just sort of makes sense – more about being responsible than plagiarizing, if that makes sense.

    I always found Colossians to be a different voice than Paul’s other letters, so I tend to agree with him.

    There is another reason I’m skeptical of Erhman: his suffering and belief in God book is not taken seriously in philosophy of religion to my knowledge (Richard Swinburne more or less laughed it off, but meh, Swinburne is wrong – we could debate that). That is not to say that his points don’t speak existentially, but more so that his points may or may not hold up to philosophical scrutiny that other atheist arguments have.

    I guess for me, and maybe it is just me, its hard to trust his work as a whole. I don’t think he is entirely wrong, for sure, and he might even be largely right on a lot of points, but I can’t decipher where he is on target and where he is not, when he has exaggerated so much other stuff. I would like second opinion, let me put it that way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Lana, you raise some good points. I was impressed with some of Ehrman’s conclusions in this book but not others. In fact, even since I posted this article I have backed off a bit on some of my supportive statements of the book and did some revision to my article here. I still think he has a point, but I think he pushes it too aggressively.

      I certainly don’t think that Matthew’s or Luke’s use of Mark or Q should be considered improper in any way. I have only read one other book by Ehrman–on the existence of Jesus–which I liked very much, but I am less enthusiastic about this book now. Though he still has a point.

      Liked by 1 person

      • ancadudar says:

        ” In fact, even since I posted this article I have backed off a bit on some of my supportive statements of the book and did some revision to my article here. I still think he has a point, but I think he pushes it too aggressively.

        I certainly don’t think that Matthew’s or Luke’s use of Mark or Q should be considered improper in any way. I have only read one other book by Ehrman–on the existence of Jesus–which I liked very much, but I am less enthusiastic about this book now. Though he still has a point.”

        “Lana – In the context of the gospels, using a source Q to get information right just sort of makes sense – more about being responsible than plagiarizing, if that makes sense.”

        Plagiarism and forgery are two different things entirely, although they can both be done at the same time. I have about eight other sources here that come to the same conclusion as Ehrman that deceit was used in NT forgeries. One of these scholars is from 1466. Ephesians makes 14 references both directly and indirectly to be Paul, I consider it deceit. The Pastorals are worse in that they fabricate details and the theology is almost anti-Paul. Ephesians develops theology further in a way that Paul may or may not have agreed with in whole or in part, but the Pastorals are anti-Paulin doctrines on many issues. Ephesians also used real events about Paul’s life so even though the Author wrongly used that knowledge to give his views Paul’s authority by deceiving, at least he did not fabricate fictitious events like the Pastorals do. Lana was right to point out that using a source like Q made sense and was responsible!

        I think Ehrman hit home in showing that forgery was indeed forbidden even in 1-century culture, and even among Christians. Where I think he exaggerates a bit and misses it is in his assessment of what Epistles are or are not forgeries and the criteria he used to make such an assessment- Except for his work on the Pastorals which I find cutting edge compared to others in his field! He really brought some fresh insight in regards to the Pastorals and shows their link to extra-biblical forgeries in regards to attacking women’s ministry. I am reading through the work of other critical scholars one from 1922 now, and none of them have a problem with the gospels nor consider them forgeries. Yet, all hold the Pastorals negatively, Colossians, Ephesians- is really frowned upon among most for using some anti-Paulin terms and copying from Colossians, 1 Peter, 2 Peter and then 2 Thessalonians is definitely rejected as not authentic by most.

        I value highly Ehrman’s work in showing that forgery was indeed deceit, as far as his scholarly assessment of all the Epistles, there are better scholars and works on the textual criticism part of it itself. I’m actually surprised to see how many scholars agree on what Epistles are not authentic, even scholars from five to three hundred years ago! I’m even finding conservative scholars who definitely agree that these Epistles are not authentic, and clash in ways with the original Paul, but they just soften the blow of the intentional deceit part or try to justify the practice, and I think Bart has shown well how the practice was negatively viewed.

        Tim, that early Christian writings website is a treasure trove! It references the view and works of many other scholars, and it has useful information for the possible source of Q and what followed.

        Liked by 1 person

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Anca, I agree: “I think Ehrman hit home in showing that forgery was indeed forbidden even in 1-century culture, and even among Christians. Where I think he exaggerates a bit and misses it is in his assessment of what Epistles are or are not forgeries and the criteria he used to make such an assessment- Except for his work on the Pastorals which I find cutting edge compared to others in his field!”

          Liked by 1 person

  11. Susan Jackson says:

    Hi

    I have just seen this Godvine post on Facebook. What do you make of it?

    https://www.crosswalk.com/faith/spiritual-life/8-huge-myths-about-hell.html?utm_content=buffer96ea2&utm_medium=fbpage&utm_source=gvpg&utm_campaign=gvupdate

    [https://media.swncdn.com/cms/CW/faith/49806-hell-literal-metaphorical.1200w.tn.jpg]

    8 Huge Myths about Hell You Need to Stop Believing http://www.crosswalk.com The reality of hell and eternal punishment is not a popular topic, even among Christians. Part of the problem is that the nature of hell has been horribly distorted in our culture and portrayed as an experience that is far from what we read in the NT. When I’m asked why I believe in hell, my …

    To be honest, it has upset me quite a bit. A charismatic Pentecostalist “friend” accused me the other day of being Universalist. I didn’t actually know what it meant until I read this article. Is being Universalist so bad, though? Is it not OK to believe that eternal God would not be happy to see the majority of His creation in Hell, whatever that it? It seems to me that a Creator who has failed to engage successfully with so many of His creation is a bit of a failure. Surely, the fact that Jesus died and was raised again means that sin has been conquered?

    Whenever I speak out with utter conviction about this matter, the conservative “Christians” tell me I am wrong/wicked/fake. I find myself, when I am called to witness to my faith, that I have to spend more time undoing the damage they have perpetrated to the Christian faith than actually proclaiming God’s love and grace. It’s just bonkers.

    Your comments would be welcome.

    Sue x

    Sue Jackson

    God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called.

    ________________________________

    Liked by 2 people

    • ancadudar says:

      Hi Sue,
      I’m sorry for how horribly you are being treated. From what I know, almost all of the prominent early Church Father’s were universalists. Agustin started off that way too but later changed his mind. Out of the theological schools of early Christianity, all were universalists except for the one in Rome. Things started to change when Jerome came along and pushed for eternal hellfire. It is not wrong at all to be a universalist, there is Biblical support for it. I’m finding that being around Christians now is like walking into a minefield, you never know when you might step on a mine and get blown up. Anything and everything you say or do can set them off at any time to blast and judge you about something. Some woman yesterday blasted me on facebook as being an ungodly woman because I did not agree with everything in a book she recommended I read. She reached out to me, not the other way around, and she told me to download a book, read it, and then tell her my opinion. After I did, now I’m having my salvation questioned just because I do not agree on a few points. So yes, it’s getting pretty crazy out there! I feel like the loving and kind Christians have to duck and hide or something. Have you read any online resources on universalism?

      Liked by 4 people

      • tonycutty says:

        Hi Sue, and thanks for you openness and honesty 🙂 You are not alone in believing – or hoping for – Universalism. And anyone who tries to threaten you with ‘hell fire’ for not believing exactly what they do; people (like that lady) who ask you questions designed for them to make a value judgement on your ‘salvation status’ – people like that are wrong, plain wrong. There are reportedly over 40,000 denominations in the Christian Church, many of whom would tell you that they are the ‘One True Way’ or something like that. But actually God causes His sun to shine on the righteous and the wicked alike. He’s more concerned with people’s attitude of listening to Him; of seeking Him; than He is about doctrine. If you believe in Jesus, you are safe, and nobody – but nobody! – can snatch you out of His hand. Nor can you jump out!

        This means that certain arguable doctrines, like who can take communion, infant baptism, inerrancy of Scripture, and also the Hell doctrines, are all optional, or at least negotiable. You believe in Jesus – that’s fine. Everything else is optional and is as nothing compared with your walk with Him. Ignore what those people would say to you to try and bring you down, rather than to build you up.

        Keep reading positive blogs like this one. Read as much as you can about how good God is, not about how angry he is (He’s not; he likes you a lot!) Read ‘The Shack’, especially because these people would say you shouldn’t 😉 And most of all, talk to your Jesus, Who loves you with an everlasting love.

        Can I also suggest you take a look at my blog too – it’s called ‘Flying in the Spirit’ and, given your recent abuse from certain Christians, may I suggest this article to begin with:

        http://www.flyinginthespirit.cuttys.net/2016/12/23/do-not-fear-the-gate-keepers/

        Peace, blessings and Grace to you dear sister 🙂

        Liked by 3 people

        • Susan Jackson says:

          thank you to both the responders to my recent rant! I will check the passages that you have both flagged. I’m an intelligent human being, although I don’t claim to be a Biblical scholar, but I’m pretty sure you don’t need to be either to be “bessie mates” with Jesus. What almost destroys me is that these so called Christians actually believe they are doing God’s work when they call me a “fake Christian”. None of my atheist or agnostic friends have ever been this cruel!

          Liked by 3 people

          • tonycutty says:

            Yeah, cruety somehow doesn’t become the People of God, does it? If you are interested in talking with like-minded people about Universalism, and if you are on Facebook, there’s a group of ‘inclusivists’ (which is pretty close to Universalism) that I am part of on Facebook, called ‘Love Heretic’, which was begun by Don Francisco’s wife, Wendy. I think it might be ‘invitation only’ but if you do want to join and have any difficulty joining, please do email me via my website’s Contact link http://www.flyinginthespirit.cuttys.net/technical-issues-contact/ and we can arrange an invite for you. No pressure on you, of course 🙂 In this case, please feel free to ignore the request on that page about no personal contacts 😀

            Liked by 3 people

          • ancadudar says:

            “What almost destroys me is that these so called Christians actually believe they are doing God’s work when they call me a “fake Christian”.”

            I am wondering how mentally stable some of these people are? Either fundamentalism has possibly made them a little insane, or perhaps people with preexisting issues are more prone to be fundamentalists? In my life, I have seen perfectly healthy thinking individuals lose it a little after exposure to extreme fundamentalists beliefs.

            If they really believed everyone else is going to hell except for a small handful of believers, then why aren’t they all over the streets weeping, why aren’t they even traumatized over it? Why are they so relaxed and cruel instead?

            Liked by 3 people

          • Susan Jackson says:

            “If they really believed everyone else is going to hell except for a small handful of believers, then why aren’t they all over the streets weeping, why aren’t they even traumatized over it? Why are they so relaxed and cruel instead?”. YES!!!!! Why are so-called Christians OK with this???? I can’t get past this.

            Liked by 3 people

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Anca, you said: “In my life, I have seen perfectly healthy thinking individuals lose it a little after exposure to extreme fundamentalists beliefs.”

            I have both been a fundamentalist and among fundamentalists. I think an important characteristic of fundamentalism generally is that they think they are absolutely right and everyone who disagrees is wrong, and that their authority comes from God himself. Once a person believes this about themselves it can turn really ugly.

            Liked by 4 people

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Tony, I have known quite a number of ‘God’s Gate-Keepers’.

          Liked by 2 people

        • ancadudar says:

          “He’s more concerned with people’s attitude of listening to Him; of seeking Him; than He is about doctrine. If you believe in Jesus, you are safe, and nobody – but nobody! – can snatch you out of His hand. Nor can you jump out!”

          This is really good! Needed to hear this today.

          Liked by 3 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Susan, I read the article you linked. I must say that I disagree with the author on just about every aspect; it is so sad. I don’t believe anyone will be sent to hell. If you are interested in articles that reject the popular idea of eternal punishment in hell (by myself and other believers), you might find my resource page on hell useful.
      https://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/books-and-resources/hell/

      You said, “Whenever I speak out with utter conviction about this matter, the conservative “Christians” tell me I am wrong/wicked/fake.” Unfortunately, you are not the first to receive this sort of response, nor will you be the last.

      When I face such confrontations I just decide whether I want to pursue that particular discussion or ignore it. Many people have their minds made up and are not open to other perspectives. I am happy to talk with people who have questions or are interested in dialog, but I have little time for unproductive arguments.
      https://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/2018/01/01/11-ways-to-avoid-wasting-time-in-useless-religious-arguments/

      I am a ‘hopeful’ Universalist. But if there are any who at the last refuse to accept God’s gift of eternal life, I don’t think God will override their free will and will allow them to expire. This is only speculation, of course; I write about it here if you are interested.
      https://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/2013/03/27/conditional-immortality-and-natural-death/

      Sorry for all the links. You do not have to read any of them unless you wish to.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Susan Jackson says:

        I feel so reassured to receive affirmation from you all. I will read all the links you have recommended. When my so-called friend told me I was wrong to be a universalist (in a very pitying tone) my response was that I couldn’t believe that the Creator of the Universe would be the sort of being that would say “You had three score years and ten to accept me and you blew it” when He is the author of all eternity. Why would He do that? If that was the prerequisite for accepting Jesus, then the vast majority of His creation is going to burn in the hellfire that conservative Christians say that non-believers are going to. Would our Father be happy with that? If He is happy with that, then why did Jesus die for our sins? Surely, to say that we have to accept Jesus BEFORE we leave this mortal coil is to say that the sacrifice of Jesus was meaningless. I don’t believe that. I am convicted that God is so much bigger than the conservatives paint Him.

        Liked by 4 people

        • ancadudar says:

          Susan,
          I so agree with everything you just said! It sounds like the conversations that would go through my head and heart these past two years! We should ask ourselves where it says in the Bible that Jesus Christ cannot reveal Himself to people after they die and give them a chance right then and there? No one comes to the Father except through Christ Jesus, and I agree with that, but it also says he went to preach to the dead for 3 days, and that even us believers have yet to really and fully see and know Him, something that won’t happen until we have passed from earth already. God is transcendent, He is not limited to the Bible, and what He did, He did for EVERYONE. I agree mostly with Tim, that everyone will be given a chance unless they still reject Him, then they will cease to be.

          I don’t think most Christians believe most of the BS they make up. They just stick with it because they like being part of a social club, it in and it group. It’s against our nature to believe in the torment of another person for eternity, beyond anything that fits the crime! It goes against the inward sense of justice most have, this is why I don’t believe they are traumatized by it because they themselves probably know better even if in denial. Those very people who say someone must say a prayer to be saved, are the same ones who accept that all babies who do not have the maturity to have faith, prayer, baptism, go to heaven! Because they know better, they recognize justice, they are just not being consistent with it.

          The video quality is horrible, but follow up on the teachings and website of this man if you have time. His works are excellent!

          http://www.tentmaker.org/

          Liked by 3 people

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Anca, thanks for posting this very informative video.

            Liked by 1 person

          • newtonfinn says:

            I have a different take on this subject but come down in essentially the same place. My take is based upon the words of Jesus that when people fed the hungry, clothed the naked, visited the prisoner, etc., out of simple human kindness and compassion, they were feeding, clothing, visiting, etc. Jesus himself. And when people did not do these loving things for “the least of these,” then it really didn’t matter how much they used Jesus’ name or did other things in his name; i.e., how “religious” they were. Jesus knew the first group (the sheep) by their actions, even though they might not have known him. As for the second group (the goats), Jesus utters some of the coldest words in the NT: “I never knew you.” Thus, my belief is that it’s unnecessary for Jesus to make an after-death pitch to “nonbelievers”, because salvation is not about belief at all, but solely about whether one lived a kind and compassionate life.

            Liked by 3 people

          • tonycutty says:

            Love this 🙂

            Something else this reminds me of is where Jesus says that if anyone gives you a cup of water because you are His disciple, ‘…he certainly will not lose his reward’. It doesn’t specify whether that person is a ‘believer’ or not. So how can someone receive a reward if they are in Hell?

            I also find it especially amusing that some of these people think that some parts of Hell are hotter than others. (Apparently there is a special place reserved for people like me, who don’t agree with all these people’s doctrines, rofl!) Now, if some parts of Hell (the ultimate punishment) are hotter than others, it follows that those other parts are cooler, and therefore not the ultimate in punishment that the hottest parts are. But if Hell is supposed to be the ultimate punishment, then this can’t be true, because some parts are not quite ultimate.

            Something makes me think that someone hasn’t thought this through properly 😉

            Liked by 4 people

          • ancadudar says:

            newtonfinn,
            “I have a different take on this subject but come down in essentially the same place. My take is based upon the words of Jesus that when people fed the hungry, clothed the naked, visited the prisoner, etc., out of simple human kindness and compassion, they were feeding, clothing, visiting, etc. Jesus himself. And when people did not do these loving things for “the least of these,” then it really didn’t matter how much they used Jesus’ name or did other things in his name; i.e., how “religious” they were. Jesus knew the first group (the sheep) by their actions, even though they might not have known him. As for the second group (the goats), Jesus utters some of the coldest words in the NT: “I never knew you.” Thus, my belief is that it’s unnecessary for Jesus to make an after-death pitch to “nonbelievers”, because salvation is not about belief at all, but solely about whether one lived a kind and compassionate life.”

            Now, this is interesting, a very interesting perspective! I think I believe a type of hybrid where the kind and compassionate that did not know Jesus’s identity or about Him but did the type of works He mentioned, will be able to receive salvation through Jesus by Jesus revealing Himself to them after they die. However, I am also on page with universalists as far as thinking that there will be some form of purification first for the rest who were not loving and kind, and then a second chance. I also, hold to what Tim has mentioned about God not forcing anyone to be with Him if they don’t want to so then they will cease to exist. Were Tim and I probably differ is in a belief of a type of afterlife punishment and purification for the unloving people.

            But what you said has hit me so hard!

            My father told me today that he no longer believes the whole Bible is inerrant or inspired!!! He said he believes most of it was written to make us dumber, LOLL, (but he was joking and laughing about the last part). My God, this was seriously not my fault, influence, or doing, he just came to the conclusion after watching stuff on tv for the past year about evolution, ancient writings and depictions of extraterrestrials, and the origins of man. We got into the discussion tonight because he took a gene test from (23andMe) to track his ancestors and it showed that he had very high Neanderthal gene count, higher than 68% of the other people who took the same test through the company. He did not know what a Neanderthal was so I pulled up information about it for him to read. Then after that, he opened up about what he had come to believe, that there was a type of God breathed evolution set in motion. You know what he said? That the Holy Spirit for some time now has put in his heart this feeling that it is mercy, love, kindness, and good works that will save people. He quoted many of the same references to the verses you have that Jesus said about doing good works out of mercy and kindness, and said that what Christ did was to make salvation possible period, but that it is the goodness of a persons heart, actions, and character that Christ will judge them by. I’m really surprised to see and hear what is happening with my father. He asked me what I thought about Jesus being fully equal to God, I am not sure myself. Do you have any thoughts on that? He seems to think that Jesus got His power from God and that there might not be the same level of Divinity between them.

            Liked by 4 people

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Newton: “Thus, my belief is that it’s unnecessary for Jesus to make an after-death pitch to “nonbelievers”, because salvation is not about belief at all, but solely about whether one lived a kind and compassionate life.”

            I’m not so sure. I don’t think the parable of the sheep and the goats is a description of what will happen in the end time but a story to emphasize the importance of caring for the marginalized.

            Liked by 1 person

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Wow, Anca! Your conversation with your father was amazing! I am sure he is excited about his development of thought and that you are too.

            And: “He asked me what I thought about Jesus being fully equal to God, I am not sure myself. Do you have any thoughts on that? He seems to think that Jesus got His power from God and that there might not be the same level of Divinity between them.”

            Of course, I am not sure either, but I think I agree with your father.

            Liked by 2 people

          • tonycutty says:

            My own take on this is quite simple. Although I believe that He’s somehow fully God and fully human, there’s a simpler way to put it: There is a God, and Jesus is what He’s like. That’s a nice broad description 😉

            Liked by 3 people

          • ancadudar says:

            tonycutty,
            “There is a God, and Jesus is what He’s like. That’s a nice broad description 😉”
            So simple, yet so much truth to it, LOL!

            Liked by 2 people

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Tony, I agree! “There is a God, and Jesus is what He’s like.”

            Liked by 2 people

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Susan, you said: “Surely, to say that we have to accept Jesus BEFORE we leave this mortal coil is to say that the sacrifice of Jesus was meaningless. I don’t believe that. I am convicted that God is so much bigger than the conservatives paint Him.”

          I totally agree.

          Liked by 2 people

    • Sue, I am a universalist, as well. You are not alone, and believe you are being shown a beautiful thing by the Spirit right now. Know that, even though other Christians might scoff at you now, they will catch the vision eventually, in this life or the next. I’d recommend looking up sermons and books by Peter Hiett, Brian Zahnd, and Brad Jersak if you want to explore this path more.

      Liked by 4 people

  12. newtonfinn says:

    ancadudar, I don’t know whether Jesus was, in one sense or another, “fully equal” to God. Jesus made statements about himself and his work that put him at the center of the salvation process, yet he also prayed to his Father and refused to be called “good,” a term which he said was reserved for God alone. As I’ve said before, Albert Schweitzer gave a profound and beautiful answer to this kind of question, an answer that is enough for me.

    “He comes to us as One unknown, without a name, as of old, by the lakeside, He came to those men who knew Him not. He speaks to us the same words: “Follow thou me!” and sets us to the tasks which He has to fulfill for our time. He commands. And to those who obey Him, whether they be wise or simple, He will reveal himself in the toils, the conflicts, the sufferings which they shall pass through in His fellowship, and, as an ineffable mystery, they shall learn in their own experience Who He is.”

    Liked by 2 people

    • ancadudar says:

      newtonfinn,
      “He came to those men who knew Him not. He speaks to us the same words: He speaks to us the same words: “Follow thou me!”
      I realize that most Christians take those words of Jesus to mean follow thou me by believing in me, but no, now I realize after what you wrote that Jesus meant, follow thou me, follow in my footsteps, do the actions and works I said to do, and have the heart attitude I have!
      Any “good” works that are done out of greed and pride, even if done towards the poor, He will weigh, judge, and burn up to see if it was done in love and worthy of being considered gold! I have seen ministries give to the orphans and the poor, such a poor quality of aid whether in material or treatment, that they would never think to give the same to their own children on Christmas morning in any gift worthy of coming from a parent. All kinds of works Christ will test for the purity and intent of the heart for when they were done.

      Liked by 3 people

      • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

        Anca, I really like this: “He speaks to us the same words: “Follow thou me!”
        I realize that most Christians take those words of Jesus to mean follow thou me by believing in me, but no, now I realize after what you wrote that Jesus meant, follow thou me, follow in my footsteps, do the actions and works I said to do, and have the heart attitude I have!”

        Liked by 3 people

  13. Ross Jarvis says:

    Hi Tim, another great thought provoking post. I would say I am wary of some approaches which attack some of the writings in the Canon, but I personally feel that “inerrantism” is possibly one of the biggest “evils” Christians need to challenge. Unfortunately it seems it is hard to live without the certainties that inerrantism gives, but it is only there we will meet Jesus.

    Liked by 3 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Thanks, Ross. I agree with you that some believers have a very strong need for the ‘certainties’ arising from inerrancy. But I also think the assumption of inerrancy has no valid support. And Yes! inerrancy is a huge problem because use of the artificial methods of reading the Bible that come from inerrancy leads to so many misguided views.

      Liked by 2 people

  14. Pingback: How Should We Regard New Testament Books of Uncertain Authorship? | Jesus Without Baggage

  15. Pingback: Blaming Paul for Things He Never Said | Jesus Without Baggage

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