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"The Bible"-its use in the singular can gloss over the fact that we do not have access to the original text, but only to manuscripts of a relatively late provenance produced at different times and places and containing among them thousands of variant wordings. An accomplished scholar of early Christianity, Ehrman (religious studies, Univ. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill) ventures out of the ivory tower in this accessible lay introduction to New Testament textual criticism. He sketches the development of New Testament literature, the gradual accumulation of errors therein through the accidental or intentional revisions of copyists, and attempts (beginning with Erasmus in the 16th century) to reconstruct the original text. Since mainstream study editions of the Bible have long drawn attention to the existence of alternate readings, the reasonably well-informed reader will not find much revolutionary analysis here. But 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. Recommended for all public libraries.-Charles Seymour, Mabee Learning Resources Ctr., Wayland Baptist Univ., Plainview, TX Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
"Misquoting Jesus is a godsend."--Philadelphia Inquirer "Whichever side you sit on regarding Biblical inerrancy, this is a rewarding read."--Dallas Morning News "Offers a fascinating look into the field of textual criticism and evidence that Scriptures have been altered."--Charleston Post & Courier "One of the unlikeliest bestsellers of the year."--Washington Post
In the absence of any original manuscripts of the books of the New Testament, how can we be sure that we're getting the intended words and meaning? Ehrman, professor of religion at UNC-Chapel Hill, has devoted his life to the study of such questions and here offers an engaging and fascinating look at the way scholars try to answer them. Part memoir, part history and part critical study, he traces the development of the academic discipline called textual criticism, which uses external and internal evidence to evaluate and compare ancient manuscripts in order to find the best readings. Ehrman points out that scribes altered almost all of the manuscripts we now have. In the early days of the Christian movement, scribal error often arose simply from unintentional omissions of words or lines. As Christianity evolved into an official religion under Constantine, however, scribes often added material to existing manuscripts or altered them to provide scriptural support for Christian doctrine or to enforce specific views about women, Jews or pagans. Ehrman's absorbing story, fresh and lively prose and seasoned insights into the challenges of recreating the texts of the New Testament ensure that readers might never read the Gospels or Paul's letters the same way again. (Nov.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.