Yesterday, in response to a question, I started to discuss the age-old problem of literary forgery (authors lying about their true identity), and specifically the question of why Christians would engage in it.  In my two books on the topic I spend considerable time trying to demonstrate that forgery was indeed understood – in antiquity – to involve lying, and that the authors who claimed (falsely) to be Plato or Galen or Peter or Paul knew they were lying.  But why would they do that?  Especially the Christians?

Here is a fuller answer that I give at the end of my book: Forged: Writing in the Name of God.  It follows a discussion of a number of modern (mainly 19th century) forgeries of Gospels, including the ones that claim that, for example, Jesus went to India as a young man to learn the ways of the Brahmins….



Christian Forgeries, Lies, and Deceptions

This issue of modern hoaxes brings me back to a question that I have repeatedly asked in my study of forgeries:  Who would do such a thing?  I hope by now you will agree with my earlier answer:  “Lots of people.”   And for lots of reasons.  And not just modern people.  We have instances of Christian forgeries not only today, but also in the Middle Ages, and in Late Antiquity, and in the time of the New Testament.  From the first century to the twenty-first century, people who have called themselves Christian have seen fit to fabricate, falsify, and forge documents, in most instances in order to authorize the views that they wanted others to accept.

My particular interest in this book, of course, is with the forgeries of the early Christian church.  No one doubts that there were lots of them.  Today we have …

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