Fugitives from Fundamentalism

The Musings of Adult Missionary Kids (MKs) & Former Born-Again Believers

The Hunt for Misquoting Jesus

Posted by Clamence/The Chaplain on March 23, 2009

There are some books I feel obliged to own, because I find it impossible to read them without annotating in the margins. However, for the most part I try to get books from my university’s library. For the past six months or so, I have had the urge to read a book by Bart D. Ehrman, Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why. I was initially intrigued by the title of the book, but my desire to find a copy grew even stronger when I did some reading on Ehrman. (Click on his name above to read the Wikipedia entry on him.) Like myself, Ehrman was an Evangelical Christian as a teenager. His love for the Bible led him to pursue studies in Biblical scholarship. He went to two very well-known Christian universities, Moody Bible Institute and Wheaton College, and eventually received an M.Div and Ph.D from Princeton Theological Seminary. It was his studies of the early New Testament documents that led to his rejection of the concept of Biblical inerrancy, and he now refers to himself as an agnostic. He is a giant in his field, and he is now the Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at UNC Chapel Hill.

bart_ehrmanSadly, my university does not carry the book. This is totally bizarre, since the book is a New York Times bestseller, and the library has a copy of Ehrman’s lecture at the university (the first half of the lecture title is exactly the same as the book: Misquoting Jesus). As a result, I decided to bite the bullet and buy the book.

Browsing through it so far, I can tell that I will not be disappointed with my purchase. Since my own decision to leave the Christian faith has nothing to do with the inconsistencies or outright falsehoods within the Bible, I actually know very little about Biblical scholarship and the construction of the New Testament. I was surprised to discover what all Biblical scholars have already known for a very long time (and wouldn’t it be nice if they would do more to share that information with lay Christians?) that the story of the adulterous woman (John 7:53-8:12) famous for the verse, “Let the one who is without sin among you be the first to cast a stone at her,” was NOT originally a part of the gospel! Again, no Biblical scholar would raise an eyebrow about this, but pastors go on reading this passage on Sunday mornings as if it is the infallible inspired Word of God. That just blows my mind. I plan to write more of my impressions as I read this book, so stay posted.

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