Sunday, April 1, 2007

Misquoting Jesus

Often time it is said that "this book will change your life," and undoubtedly many books, covering many topics, do have the power to alter one's way of thinking, and thus change your life.

Bart D. Ehrman, who chairs the department of religious studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, wrote Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why (Plus), which spent 9 weeks on the New York Times best sellers list. This is a book which could change your life. Although the change it could affect would not necessarily be a change that you'd be seeking. Maybe, maybe not.

Inside the covers of this easy to read, and some what short story of 250 pages, is an introduction to a field of scientific study called Textual Criticism. Evidently, there are enough discrepancies in the Bible that there have been scholars, working throughout most of the history of Christianity, who have endeavored to discover the original texts and words of this great book. The New Testament alone has more "disagreements" than agreements amongst the thousands of surviving manuscripts in collections around the world, the concern of this book is to educate the reader about some of these conflicts, why they are there, and who put them there.

To be sure, most of this difference in the text are meaningless, superficial misspellings and interpretations of ancient languages that do not alter the overriding theme of the books,
but there are others times when the changes are more meaningful, and the author does a terrific job of simplifying and explaining how scholars determine what is or isn't original.

Also, this book touches upon some of the historically significant distinctions and tenets of the various sects of Christianity and how the orthodox Christians altered text to serve their purposes. Again, not all examples of the differences in the scriptures are exposed, but enough, along with the prominent scribes and scholars who affected these changes, to either challenge your basic Christian beliefs or at least intrigue you enough to further studies.

I really enjoyed this book, not the least of which was the section of the book entitled "Plus," where many of the questions and concerns that formed in my mind while reading this book were addressed. Fascinating was the reality that all these discrepancies and errors are not exactly a well kept secret, Ehrman contends that throughout most of the history of Christianity, scholars and those in the know, knew about the problems in the text. As a matter of fact, most every Bible published today notes a significant number these instances of differences, they are in the footnotes, which of course no one reads!

No comments:

Post a Comment