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Forgery. Another Deceived Deceiver (Part 2)

HERE’S THE SECOND HALF OF WHAT I STARTED TO POST YESTERDAY: THE IRONIES OF THE APOSTOLIC CONSTITUTIONS (A FOURTH CENTURY BOOK CLAIMING TO BE WRITTEN BY THE APOSTLES THREE HUNDRED YEARS EARLIER ); DON’T WORRY ABOUT THE GREEK — IT MAKES SENSE WITHOUT READING IT. MY POINT IN THIS BIT IS THE IRONY OF IT ALL.

The alleged authors – the apostles of Christ, including Paul and James — claim that the books of the New Testament were theirs: ἡμέτερα δέ, τοῦτ’ ἔστι τῆς καινῆς διαθήκης (8.47.85). And so the author gives a list of which books those are, a list that includes all of the books that eventually became the New Testament, with the exception of the book of Revelation. Strikingly, after listing the Gospels and the letters of Paul, James, John, Jude, and Peter, the author indicates that the New Testament is also to include the two letters of Clement and, to cap it all off, the Apostolic Constitutions themselves. The list ends with “our Acts of the Apostles” αἱ Πράψεις ἡμῶν τῶν ἀποστόλων (8.47.85) – in other words, not just the letters that the authors had earlier produced, but also the account of their activities.

By naming 1 and 2 Clement as scriptural authorities – part of “our” New Testament – the alleged authors are establishing the authority of the bearer of their writing, Clement of Rome, companion of the apostles. Including their own writing, the Apostolic Constitutions, as Scripture is the natural corollary of the pseudepigraphic enterprise. If they wrote the other books of the New Testament, then surely their other writing – that is, the present one – is also sacred scripture. This is pseudepigraphy with chutzpah. The author is not just forging an apostolic writing: he is urging, in the name of the apostles, that the writing be deemed part of Scripture. At the same time, to some extent this author is simply making explicit what other forgers clearly desired implicitly. Whoever wrote the extant letter of Laodiceans, the letter of 3 Corinthians, and the Gospel of Peter clearly expected their readers to accept their books as authentically apostolic and thus, surely, in some sense Scriptural.

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Ancient Secretaries (Part 1)
Forgery. Another Deceived Deceiver (Part 1)

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Comments

  1. Avatar
    Jerry  August 2, 2012

    Bart,
    Has anyone done a study of the integrity of the NT authors?
    When I discuss some of these issues with my Evangelical friends, they are appalled over the scandal that someone some would claim to be Paul and write the letter to the Ephesians. They can’t get over the idea that a “Holy Author” would/could lie.

    Thanks
    Jerry

    • Bart Ehrman
      Bart Ehrman  August 2, 2012

      Yup, it’s the last chapter of my forthcoming book.

  2. Avatar
    maxhirez  August 2, 2012

    I note that the content of the new book is much more accessible to “laymen” (irony intentional) like me than it was in “Orthodox Corruption of Scrpture.”. Is this intentional? Is the audience towards which it is directed the same or is a different strata of academia? Or perhaps has the experience of writing so many best sellers leaked into your scholarly pursuits and resulted in an inability to write dry, stiff, narrowly targeted Encyclopedias? ( Not that I have any right to call OCS that. 😉

    • Bart Ehrman
      Bart Ehrman  August 2, 2012

      I think the opening section is accessible. (But so was the opening section of Orthodox Corruption.) It gets dicey later. I may post a few passages to give people a taste. But if what you’ve read so far works for you, you should think about getting the book! (I try to write in an interesting way even fro my dry stiff and narrow readers 🙂 )

  3. Avatar
    simonelli  August 2, 2012

    I am in good company, for you know that the chief priest and the Pharisees also considered Jesus a deceiver: For in Matthew 27:63-64, we read; “and said, Sir, we remember that when He was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I am to rise again.’ Therefore, give order for the grave to be made secure until the third day, lest the disciples come and steal him away and say to the people, ‘ He has risen from the dead,’ and the last deception will be worse than the first.”

  4. Avatar
    ZAINAB  August 2, 2012

    Very interesting. As I am still waiting for the arrival of ‘Did Jesus Exist?’, I would like to ask you a question from your last book- ‘FORGED’.

    You state in your book: “Eventually I came to realize that the Bible not only contains untruths or accidental mistakes. It also contains what almost anyone would call lies.”(pg 5)

    &

    “The present book, in other words, is not intended for my fellow scholars, who, if they read this one, will be doing so simply out of curiosity. It is, instead, intended for you, the general reader, who on some level is, like me, interested in the truth.”(pg 11)

    So if you have come to these conclusions prof. Bart Ehrman, then to you “What is Truth?”

    • Bart Ehrman
      Bart Ehrman  August 3, 2012

      Ha! That’s not one that can be answered in a quick reply on a blog! The closest I come to answering it is in my book God’s Problem, especially in the final chapter.

      • Avatar
        ZAINAB  August 5, 2012

        Thanks for your reply Mr Ehrman, I do not have your book- ‘God’s Problem’.

        • Avatar
          Dennis Steenbergen  August 7, 2012

          Along this theme I would like to thank you for showing evidence. I just read page 55 of “Misquoting Jesus” in which you show a page from the fourth-century Codex Vaticanus, with a note in the margin in which a medieval scribe maligns a predecessor for altering the text: “Fool and knave, leave the old reading, don’t change it!”

          Wow there it is before my eyes. Proof that changes did happen. I had to chuckle. That made my day. 🙂

  5. Avatar
    Joshua150  August 3, 2012

    Your description of this entire process shows me the stuff I scoot past as Paid Proramming on Sunday AM tv… By that I mean pushy self righteous justifierrs that need assent to continue to have faith because their rational faculties make them doubt, but they call it Satan….same garbage different can.

    • Avatar
      Joshua150  August 3, 2012

      I am referring to xtian preachers, more or less the other hyped buy this now stuff.

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