The academic semester, alas, has begun, as of this past Wednesday.   As usual, I’ll be teaching two courses.   My undergraduate class, as is true every spring, is “Introduction to the New Testament.”   My PhD seminar, this term, is “Literary Forgery in the Early Christian Tradition.”   I’ve taught this class twice before, but now I have my book (Forgery and Counterforgery: The Use of Literacy Deceit in Early Christian Polemics) to structure the course.  I’ve never had one of my books as the focus of a PhD seminar, but there’s really nothing else out there that can be used.  The first time I taught the class I used Wolfgang Speyer’s classic, Die literarische Fälschung im heidnischen und christlichen Altertum as the main text.  It, obviously, is in German.  The students were not thrilled.  Or convinced that it was a good idea.  But their German certainly got better.  So even though there’s a ton of reading this term, I won’t be entertaining any complaints!

Here’s this semester’s syllabus for the course, for your reading pleasure.



Reli 870: Literary Forgery in the Early Christian Tradition

Spring 2015

 Instructor: Bart D. Ehrman

Literary forgery is among the most common and least studied phenomena of the early Christian tradition.  Among the twenty-seven writings of the New Testament, only eight almost certainly bear the name of their actual author (some are forged; others are mis-attributed).  After the New Testament period, forgeries proliferate; in addition to books allegedly written by Jesus’ apostles (Gospels, epistles, acts, apocalypses, church orders), there are books that falsely claim to be written by followers of the apostles and other important church leaders, or are falsely ascribed to them (Dionysius the Areopagite, Clement of Rome, Barnabas, Ignatius).  In later centuries yet other books appeared, written in the names of, or falsely attributed to, yet other famous Christian authors (Justin, Tertullian, Cyprian, Jerome, Augustine, and on and on; it’s a very long list).

This phenomenon is not, of course, unique to Christianity but is well documented as well for both pagan and Jewish literature of antiquity.  Less scholarly attention, however, has been paid to the Christian phenomenon, except on a case-by-case basis or in relation to the formation of the New Testament canon.

Hence our seminar.  We will not….