Responses to Misquoting Jesus: Readers’ Mailbag

As I understand the question in this Readers’ Mailbag, it is about why my claims about scribes who changed the texts they were copying are so controversial, with some (conservative evangelical) scholars claiming that I overemphasize the differences in our New Testament manuscripts.  Here is the question:

 

QUESTION

I was wondering how textual critics can even know how the text of the New Testament probably wasn’t corrupted a lot as you would say. What would make it probable?
RESPONSE:

One of the most ...

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How Do We Know What “Most Scholars” Think?

I have received a particularly interesting question that has led to a bit of back and forth between me and a person on the blog.  This person pointed out that in my writings I often indicate that a view that I have (e.g., that the Gospel of John was not written by John the son of Zebedee; that the book of Ephesians was not really written by Paul even though the author claims to be Paul; or that the Gospels ...

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60

Finding Meaning in the Bible: More Responses to my Christmas Article

In the previous post I indicated some of the initial reactions, four years ago, to my Newsweek article on the Gospel stories about Christmas.  I received yet more reaction after that old post, and so posted again, dealing this time with people who thought I was too kindly disposed to anyone who found the stories meaningful.  Here is what I said at the time.  (I still stick by it, for what it’s worth!)

 

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When the editor at Newsweek ask ...

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Is the New Testament Authentic? Readers’ Mailbag December 4, 2016

QUESTION

Dr Ehrman, I found this attack against you:

Bart likes to deceive his listener by claiming more variations and more copies give birth to less authenticity. Actually flip that and you’ll begin to “see the light”.  The Bible manuscripts were transmitted not in a linear way, as in “Chinese whispers” but geometrically as in 1 produced by 5 others which in turn then produced, say 20, etc.

I think you already dealt with this claim, but I am unable to ...

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Response to my Newsweek Article on Christmas

Earlier this week I posted my Newsweek article on Christmas from four years ago, and several people have asked me what kind of reaction I received.  I made two posts about that at the time.  Here’s the first.  I find this post rather humorous now, years later, since I was obviously being wildly defensive (halfway through the response) before denying I was defensive at all (at the end)!  What funny people we can be….

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My Newsweek article this week ...

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43

Carrier and James the Brother of Jesus

I hope I am not beating a dead horse by going at some length into this discussion of James, the brother of Jesus, in response to the Mythicists, who have a very real stake indeed in saying that he wasn’t really Jesus’ brother, since that would mean Jesus existed.  I’m pursuing the matter in part because it is such a key issue and as well to show that it would be possible to argue to all eternity with Mythicists on ...

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136

Faith and History: A Blast From the Past

Here is a post that I made exactly four years ago today, on a topic of perennial interest: the relationship between theological belief and historical study:

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I received a number of responses to my post yesterday about faith and history – some on the blog itself and some via emails (I prefer questions/comments on the blog itself, by the way, as I can deal with them more efficiently. In case anyone should ask you which I prefer 🙂 ).  Some of these ...

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40

Ehrman-Bass Debate Did the Historical Jesus Claim to be Divine

On September 18th, 2015 I had a debate with Justin Bass on the question “Did the Historical Jesus Really Claim to Be God?”  As you might imagine, I argued that the answer is “Decidedly No.”  He argued “Decidedly Yes.”  The debate was held at the Collin College Preston Ridge Conference Center  in Frisco, TX.  The event was hosted by “1042 Church” http://www.1042church.com where Justin Bass is the lead pastor.

Most of the audience came from members of Justin’s congregation and ...

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71

An Irritating Criticism: My View of Paul’s View of Christ

QUESTION:

Below is one Christian’s comment about your position on Galatians 4:14.  How would you respond to this criticism:    “The question to ask of this is why make Galatians 4:14, with an interpretation not readily accepted by even non-Christian scholars, the lynchpin? What was it about this verse that made it the focal point, especially when Paul isn’t really making a Christological argument there? Why not statements like Philippians 2 which is quoted? Note also that Philippians ends with every knee ...

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On “Knowing” the Original Words of the NT

I have been discussing the question of whether we can know that we have reconstructed the original text of the New Testament at every point – or even every important point.   To me the answer is self-evidently, No, of course not.   Many of my conservative evangelical critics think that I’m being overly skeptical, that since we have thousands of manuscripts of the NT, we can surely know better what the authors of the NT said than any other authors from ...

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