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Trade Books and Scholarly Books

I indicated in my previous post that I would say a few things about each of the books that I am planning – today at least – to try to write over the next ten years or so.   The very next book will be trade book on Jesus Before the Gospels, a study of what happened to the stories about Jesus as they were altered, and invented, by Christians circulating them word of mouth before the writing of the Gospels.   The next book after that will be a scholarly treatment of the same thing.  Or that’s the plan.

The reason I’m hedging my bet is because I never know whether there will be a scholarly book in my current research until my current research is my past research and I see whether there really is something there that I have to say to scholars, or not.   At this point, even though I have a rough idea of how I want to organize a trade book, and know where I need to go in order to do all the research necessary for it, I really don’t know if there is a serious scholarly book in there or not.  I *suspect* there is, but I don’t know for sure.

I have on three occasions produced both popular and scholarly books on the same topic.  Maybe that will be the case here.   It has happened in different ways before.

After I wrote and published my PhD dissertation on Didymus the Blind and the Text of the Gospels, I, well, had no plans of writing a trade book about it!  🙂   (And I should say, about twice a week I get an email from someone who tells me that they’ve read “all” my books.  I’m always tempted to ask how they liked my book on Didymus the Blind!)   In fact, at that stage of my career, in my early 30s, I had no plans AT ALL, ever, at any time, to write a trade book.  I saw myself as a scholar’s scholar.  I worked in a highly technical area of New Testament studies, the most technical area there is – textual criticism.  And I worked in a particularly technical area even within that wider technical field, analyzing patristic citations of the New Testament.   It was hard enough to explain to people what I was doing, let alone get anyone interested in it.  And there was no way to make it accessible, let alone intriguing, to outsiders.  It was completely an inside job.

I did see my next book as…

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My Scholarly and Trade Books on Forgery
My Future Books



  1. Avatar
    gabilaranjeira  August 17, 2014

    Thank God you changed your mind!

  2. Avatar
    achase79  August 17, 2014

    For whatever it’s worth, I really like your scholarly works. I think the trade books have a place, but I found Forgery and Couter-Forgery way more convincing than Forged, and The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture more convincing than Misquoting Jesus. This is particularly true for me, having read far to many books by Evangelical apologists who have a set of good-sounding answers to some of the problems you bring up (e,g, Guthrie on the Pastorals, Wallace on TC, Blomberg on the Gospels.) I have found your more in depth discussions are useful in that context. The trade books may be more useful for people with less familiarity with these arguments.

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    RonaldTaska  August 17, 2014

    “Misquoting Jesus” and “Jesus Interrupted” are my two favorite of your books. They are so helpful. I still would like to see you put it altogether under the topic of “Is the Bible the Inerrant Word of God?” because the doctrine of Biblical inerrancy, despite overwhelming evidence against this doctrine, still seems to have such power in America. People are entitled to their own beliefs, but not to their own facts. Moreover, they tend to shove these beliefs on the rest of us.

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    doug  August 17, 2014

    Thanks for making information on early Christianity accessible to the general public. Many people believe the Bible is the perfect answer book, and such ignorance hurts a lot of people (including the believers).

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    shakespeare66  August 18, 2014

    It is most fortunate that you managed to get into the trade book “business” because so many people have benefitted from your scholarship! I would have never been able to know these things had you not brought them down to the non-scholarly world of us. I am so glad you did, because it has been a fascinating ride learning so much about early Christianity that I would never have known had you not taken up the “trade book” business. Thanks so much!

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    madmargie  August 18, 2014

    I have really enjoyed all your books. It always amazes me that the average Christian has no idea that there were any manuscripts at all. Most folks I discuss this with seem to think God just dropped it on us out of the sky. Even those who do believe the writers were “inspired”, seem to think we have “original” manuscripts. I would love to use your Misquoting Jesus in our church school class.

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