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Thursday, August 5, 2010

Misquoting Truth: A Guide to the Fallacies of Bart Ehrman's Misquoting Jesus by Timothy Paul Jones

An Enjoyable Counter-Argument

Published in 2007 by IVP Books.

Timothy Paul Jones' Misquoting Truth: A Guide to the Fallacies of Bart Ehrman's "Misquoting Jesus is a reasoned, polite yet firm response to Bart Ehrman's Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why, a best-selling book that disputes the authenticity of the New Testament by noting that there have been numerous errors in translation and copying over the years, especially in the first 200-300 years of the Christian movement.

Jones starts by addressing Ehrman's criticisms directly. He acknowledges that there have indeed been a great number of errors, most in spelling, some in grammar and some were simple re-copying of lines of text or skipping a line of text. He notes that while there are a lot of them, most make no difference, such as my use of commas and other punctuation in this sentence - if I had left them out, the meaning of the text would not have changed. To use an example of my own from English, they might be as simple as using the word "house" rather than "home" in a sentence - a different word but not a different meaning.

This addresses more than 90% of Ehrman's citations of error, which makes me wonder why Ehrman brought them up to begin with...

Timothy Paul Jones
Ehrman asserts that the 4 gospels have had many different names over the centuries ("A wide variety of titles") as an argument against their authenticity. True enough, agrees Jones, but they've only had slightly different names, such as "The Gospel According to Mark" or "The Book of Mark." The authors' names have been attached to the same texts no matter where they've been discovered in the former Roman Empire. (pages 97-100)

Jones discusses how the early church determined which books were canon and which were not, addresses Ehrman's determination that none of the 4 Gospels could have been written by "illiterate" men such as Peter and John. Ehrman never considers that Peter and John would have had access to scribes, despite the fact that Paul refers to a scribe writing for him while he as in jail awaiting a hearing with Caesar and he ignores the fact that Matthew the tax collector turned disciple would have had to have been literate. Luke the physician would have probably been literate or he could have used the same scribes that Paul used since they were clearly companions.

I found this to be an enjoyable, polite response to Ehrman.

Highly recommended. 5 stars out of 5.

This book can be found on Amazon.com here: Misquoting Truth.

Reviewed on December 26, 2009

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