It is often said, even by critical scholars who should know better, that “writing in the name of another” was widely accepted in antiquity. But New York Times bestselling author Bart D. Ehrman dares to call it what it was: literary forgery, a practice that was as scandalous then as it is today. In Forged, Ehrman’s fresh and original research takes readers back to the ancient world, where forgeries were used as weapons by unknown authors to fend off attacks to their faith and establish their church. So, if many of the books in the Bible were not in fact written by Jesus’s inner circle—but by writers living decades later, with differing agendas in rival communities—what does that do to the authority of Scripture?
Ehrman investigates ancient sources to:
- Reveal which New Testament books were outright forgeries.
- Explain how widely forgery was practiced by early Christian writers—and how strongly it was condemned in the ancient world as fraudulent and illicit.
- Expose the deception in the history of the Christian religion.
Ehrman’s fascinating story of fraud and deceit is essential reading for anyone interested in the truth about the Bible and the dubious origins of Christianity’s sacred texts.
Bart D. Ehrman is the author of more than twenty books, including the New York Times bestselling Misquoting Jesus and God's Problem. Ehrman is the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and is a leading authority on the Bible and the life of Jesus. He has been featured in Time and has appeared on Dateline NBC, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, CNN, the History Channel, major NPR shows, and other top media outlets. He lives in Durham, N.C.
The evocative title tells it all and hints at the tone of sensationalism that pervades this book. Those familiar with the earlier work of Ehrman, a distinguished professor of religious studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and author of more than 20 books including Misquoting Jesus, will not be surprised at the content of this one. Written in a manner accessible to nonspecialists, Ehrman argues that many books of the New Testament are not simply written by people other than the ones to whom they are attributed, but that they are deliberate forgeries. The word itself connotes scandal and crime, andit appears on nearly every page. Indeed, this book takes on an idea widely accepted by biblical scholars: that writing in someone else's name was common practice and perfectly okay in ancient times. Ehrman argues that it was not even thenconsidered acceptable—hence, a forgery. While many readers may wish for more evidence ofthe charge, Ehrman's introduction to the arguments and debates among different religious communities during the first few centuries and amongthe early Christians themselves, though not the book's main point, is especially valuable.
- Publishers Weekly
Ehrman (religious studies, Univ. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; Misquoting Jesus) provides evidence here that the ancient world, in fact, generally condemned forgeries as much as the modern world does. He then goes on to discuss works that were wrongly claimed to have been written by Peter or by Paul as well as other forgeries, including some in the last two centuries. He distinguishes between the use of a pen name to hide the writer's identity and a forgery that claims to be the work of someone else. Most of the forgeries Ehrman discusses served Christian anti-Jewish propaganda, although some were antipagan, while the so-called Gospel of Nicodemus was an attempt to correct the very anti-Christian Acts of Pilate. Ehrman uses other forgeries as well to support his conclusion that "Christians intent on establishing what was right to believe did so by telling lies." VERDICT Ehrman reveals for ordinary readers what most mainstream biblical scholars accept, but he then attributes motives to the writers, which are more speculative, ending his book with a discussion of a few justifiable lies or forgeries and those not justified (all the rest). Recommended for sophisticated readers who will come to their own conclusions about Ehrman's opinions.
- Carolyn M. Craft, emerita, Longwood Univ., Farmville, VA