Misquoting Jesus

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why
Misquoting Jesus.jpg
AuthorBart D. Ehrman
Publication date
225.4/86 22
LC ClassBS2325 .E45 2005
Preceded byTruth and Fiction in The Da Vinci Code: A Historian Reveals What We Really Know about Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and Constantine (2004) 
Followed byThe Lost Gospel of Judas Iscariot: A New Look at Betrayer and Betrayed (2006) 

Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why (published as Whose Word Is It? in United Kingdom) is a book by Bart D. Ehrman, a New Testament scholar at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.[1] The book introduces lay readers to the field of textual criticism of the Bible. Ehrman discusses a number of textual variants that resulted from intentional or accidental manuscript changes during the scriptorium era. The book made it to The New York Times Best Seller List.[2]


Ehrman recounts his personal experience with the study of the Bible and textual criticism. He summarizes the history of textual criticism, from the works of Desiderius Erasmus to the present. The book describes an early Christian environment in which the books that would later compose the New Testament were copied by hand, mostly by Christian amateurs. Ehrman concludes that various early scribes altered the New Testament texts in order to de-emphasize the role of women in the early church, to unify and harmonize the different portrayals of Jesus in the four gospels, and to oppose certain heresies (such as Adoptionism).

Reviews and reception[edit]

Alex Beam of the Boston Globe, wrote that the book is "a series of dramatic revelations for the ignorant", and that "Ehrman notes that there have been a lot of changes to the Bible in the past 2,000 years. I don't want to come between Mr. Ehrman and his payday, but this point has been made much more eloquently by... others."[3]

Jeffrey Weiss of The Dallas Morning News wrote, "Whichever side you sit on regarding Biblical inerrancy, this is a rewarding read."[4] The American Library Association wrote, "To assess how ignorant or theologically manipulative scribes may have changed the biblical text, modern scholars have developed procedures for comparing diverging texts. And in language accessible to nonspecialists, Ehrman explains these procedures and their results. He further explains why textual criticism has frequently sparked intense controversy, especially among scripture-alone Protestants."[5]

Charles Seymour of the Wayland Baptist University in Plainview, Texas wrote, "Ehrman convincingly argues that even some generally received passages are late additions, which is particularly interesting in the case of those verses with import for doctrinal issues such as women's ordination or the Atonement."[6]

Neely Tucker of The Washington Post wrote that the book is "an exploration into how the 27 books of the New Testament came to be cobbled together, a history rich with ecclesiastical politics, incompetent scribes and the difficulties of rendering oral traditions into a written text."[7]

Craig Blomberg, of Denver Seminary in Colorado, wrote that "Most of Misquoting Jesus is actually a very readable, accurate distillation of many of the most important facts about the nature and history of textual criticism, presented in a lively and interesting narrative that will keep scholarly and lay interest alike."[8] Blomberg also wrote that Ehrman "has rejected his evangelicalism and whether he is writing on the history of the transmission of the biblical text, focusing on all the changes that scribes made over the centuries, or on the so-called 'lost gospels' and 'lost Christianities,' trying to rehabilitate our appreciation for Gnosticism, it is clear that he has an axe to grind."[8]

In 2007, Timothy Paul Jones wrote a book-length response to Misquoting Jesus, called Misquoting Truth: A Guide to the Fallacies of Bart Ehrman's "Misquoting Jesus". It was published by InterVarsity Press. Novum Testamentum suggested that Misquoting Truth was a useful example of how conservative readers are reacting to Ehrman.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Interview with Bart Ehrman, Publishers Weekly, January 25, 2006.
  2. ^ Publisher's website. HarperCollins.com.
  3. ^ Beam, Alex (Apr 12, 2006). "Book review: The new profits of Christianity". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2009-04-06. (behind paywall)
  4. ^ Weiss, Jeffrey (Apr 16, 2006). "Book review: Some ask: Are Bible texts authentic? Are stories true?". Dallas Morning News. Retrieved 2009-04-06.
  5. ^ "Ehrman, Bart D. Misquoting Jesus: The Story behind Who Changed the..." Booklist. Nov 15, 2005. Retrieved 2009-04-06.
  6. ^ "Ehrman, Bart D. Misquoting Jesus: The Story behind Who Changed the..." Library Journal. 2005. Retrieved 2009-04-06.
  7. ^ Tucker, Neely (March 5, 2006). "The Book of Bart". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2009-04-06.
  8. ^ a b "Book review: Misquoting Jesus". Denver Seminary. March 5, 2006. Archived from the original on April 25, 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-06.
  9. ^ "Book Notes". Novum Testamentum. 50: 417. 2008.

External links[edit]