Because Ideas Matter...
The faculty and staff of Butler University's College of Liberal
Arts and Sciences presents
Writing in the Name of God - Why the Bible's Authors Are Not Who We
Think They Are
by Bart D. Ehrman, HarperOne, 2011
Reviewed by James F. McGrath
I am grateful to Harper Collins for
furnishing me with an advance copy of Bart Ehrman's forthcoming
book Forged: Writing in the Name of God--Why the Bible's Authors
Are Not Who We Think They Are. Ehrman has provided yet another book
popularizing New Testament scholarship for a general audience. In
this one, he focuses on forgery in early Christianity. He discusses
numerous works outside of the New Testament, but all in service of
a central aim, which is to explain why there is a widespread
consensus that some of the New Testament works which contain
explicit claims to authorship are not by who they say they are.
Scholars refer to this as pseudepigraphy. Ehrman suggests that
forgery is a better term, since the practice was no more acceptable
in ancient times than today. This last point is one that scholars
have often disputed, typically without evidence, and so Ehrman
looks into the matter carefully and makes a persuasive case that
then as now, forgers intended to deceive, and those who were their
victims did not take kindly to it.
For the most part, the book presents
mainstream scholarship's consensus on questions of authorship. Some
cases, such as 2 Peter, are clear cut. They were not written by
their purported author. If this is news to you, then Ehrman's new
book provides a provocative and readable introduction to this
important area of New Testament scholarship.
-James F. McGrath, Clarence L. Goodwin Chair in New Testament
Language and Literature, Butler University.