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Misquoting Jesus: A Review


Recently I read Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why, by Bart D. Ehrman.

I’m ambivalent about this book. On the one hand, Ehrman has clearly studied and researched his topic extensively, presents many interesting examples, and attempts to make dense research accessible to the layman. On the other hand, he is very repetitive (especially in the first few chapters), sometimes tedious (as in the chapter on early textual analysis), and is decidedly atheist at this point in his life. (Of course, some readers may like that, but I feel it’s important for a Bible scholar to disclose, which he only does obliquely.)

The pathos in the introduction describing his own experiences pulled me in; I sympathize with him while disagreeing with his conclusions. The early chapters rather sensationalized the idea that the Bible has mistakes in it. (Yeah? And? Not exactly news.)

In the last few pages, he goes off on a strange tangent, asserting that there is never any such thing as a “right” interpretation of any text whatsoever, that all meaning is created by the reader. As a teacher, I can say with certainty that there are such things as wrong answers when it comes to reading comprehension.

All in all, it was an interesting book, and thought-provoking. I understand now how difficult it is to discover what the Bible originally said. Which shows why we so desperately need inspiration, rather than relying solely on our own faculties.

Throughout the book I found myself earnestly wishing that the Latter Day Saint missionaries had only found Ehrman while he was in college.  I think his faith would have taken quite a different direction!


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