Forgeries & Lies

30 Sep

I am sure you have heard these accusations about the Bible and if not you need to acquaint yourself with the works of Bart Ehrman. He champions the idea that the Bible contains both forgeries and lies within its pages.This is just a brief look at his main thesis of his book Forged.

Now it is difficult to analyze a book on this format because there is simply too much information in a book to really analyze here. The space is not there and readers may go to sleep. So I will try to hit the very main points and let you do your own study on the issue.

#1. Writing in the Name of God—Why the Bible’s Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are

This is written right on the front cover so the purchaser thinks they are going to be treated to an examination of who the authors of the Bible were. The best thing about this book was that Dr. Ehrman documented his definitions of the key words he uses to defend his side of the issue.

The problem is, he presents NO real evidence to support any charge that the biblical authors were anyone but who they said they were or have their names on the individual books.

He also doesn’t provide any evidence to identify those people he claims really wrote the different books of the Bible. They are all anonymous people. Even the scholars he references tend to be anonymous as he uses the phrase, ‘most scholars…’ or something similar throughout his work.

The reader is not really getting an academic or scholarly work on the topic, they are getting a very biased, subjective opinion by someone who openly admits to not believing in God. That fact alone makes his work suspect and the reader should take care that they filter his words carefully.

In attacking the biblical authors, Dr. Ehrman doesn’t pull known individual facts about each person but relies upon generalities to assume that the biblical writers were exactly the same as his generalized example. Nothing specific nor verifiable is given to show that Peter, Paul, Matthew and so on, were unable to write their books. It is all, the ancient world was illiterate so the biblical authors were too, type of thinking.

The book does not live up to the hype on the front cover.

#2. Scripture says that it is inspired or breathed out by God. God does not and cannot lie. Therefore Scripture does not and cannot contain lies. Forgery, on the other hand, involves lying. For that reason there can be no forgeries in the Bible (pg. 132)

This is not what he believes now but is basically mentioning what true believers believe about the Bible. Of course, this thinking is correct because if there was one forgery, one lie, then the ramifications for humans is immense.

Dr. Ehrman does not delve into those ramifications, he just wants to destroy people’s faith in God’s word.

#3. It was there that I realized that since the Bible is a book, it makes better sense to approach it the way one approaches books.(pg. 133)

This is the fatal error of many scholars who take scholarship over faith.  The Bible isn’t just a book. Its historical track record proves that idea false. Also, no other book is used in so many false religions like the Bible is. No matter how you look at it, the Bible is more than just a book and it needs to be viewed for what it really is–the words of the most holy God.

#4. Moreover, as I studied the Bible I began to see the errors, here and there. And then they started to multiply. And eventually they came to involve not just little details, but very big questions and issues of real importance. I came away convinced that the Bible, whatever else it might be, is a very human book(pg.133)

I wish he gave more details about these supposed errors but he doe snot even put them in one chapter to explain why they should be termed an error. he just makes this blanket statement about his realization.

Just so you know, Dr. Ehrman has been known to claim that there are as many errors in the Bible as there are words, so his idea of errors is a bit off. What the unbeliever calls an error is usually something very simple and minute and  easy to explain as different details.

The problem is in getting people like Dr. Ehrman to accept the explanations and have them change their tune. No matter how you explain the difficulties, people like Dr. Ehrman do not accept the explanations and keep on making the same charges over and over.

#5. Human books from the ancient world sometimes contained forgeries, writings that claim to be authored by someone who did not write them. This is certainly true of the Hebrew Bible, the Christian Old Testament. The book of Daniel claims to be written, in part, by the prophet Daniel during the Babylonian captivity in the sixth century BCE. But there is no way it was written then. Scholars for over a hundred years have shown clear and compelling reasons for thinking that it was written four hundred years later, in the second century BCE, by someone falsely claiming to be Daniel. So too the book of Ecclesiastes (pg. 133)

This is one of his many accusations against biblical authors and as you can see, he provides nothing to back up his charge–‘But there is no way it was written then’– we must ask why not? Where is his evidence showing it cannot be written then?

I looked in his footnotes and he makes no further mention of any evidence to support that simple dismissal. The same goes when he talks about the person identifying himself as the author of Ecclesiastes. We have his dismissal but nothing else to see how he came to that conclusion.

This is a common theme for Dr. Ehrman as he does the same thing in his lectures and debates. He will demand evidence from the supporters of the Bible yet provide nothing substantial to meet his own demand.

Believers should ask, why does Dr. Ehrman and people like him want these books to be forgeries? What are their motivations for making these accusations? We shouldn’t be afraid of these accusations but investigate the reasoning behind them.

#6. In other words, he is claiming to be Solomon without using his name. But there is no way he was Solomon. This book could not have been written until six hundred years after Solomon’s death, as critical biblical scholars today agree. (pg.134)

This quote simply backs up what I have been saying. Why could Ecclesiastes not be written until 600 years after Solomon’s death? Dr. Ehrman provides nothing to support this claim. Solomon would be one of the elites, someone who would have access to the best education and given his prayer to God, someone bestowed with many gifts enabling him to write such a book. But Dr. Ehrman provides nothing to convince anyone otherwise.

#7. It is a striking phenomenon that even though scholars far and wide agree that these books were not actually written by their alleged authors, many scholars are reluctant to call the books what they are: literary forgeries meant to deceive their readers.(pg. 134)

Most likely the reason is that those scholars do not want the responsibility of destroying the fait of so many people. I do not know for sure but that guess is as good as any other. Maybe they see what Dr. Ehrman doesn’t see. If they call the biblical books forgeries meant to deceive, they are calling God a deceiver equal to the devil.

That is not a very popular thing to say or claim but Dr. Ehrman seems to tread where angels fear to go. Making God a deceiver means we cannot trust his words about salvation and that he is one big jokester instead of a sinless, infallible God, where noo one is like him.

Dr. Ehrman walks on very thin ice  that is cracking and no one is around to help him. You really cannot take anything he says as being credible or legitimate, including his charges of lies and forgeries because of this insinuation about God being a deceiver.

#8. “Books” in the ancient world, for example, were quite different from books today. They were written on scrolls and were not mass produced. Still, that doesn’t stop anyone from calling them books. Forgeries in the ancient world were different in some ways from forgeries today, but they were still forgeries. (pg. 159)

He is wrong here as we do not know anything about how the ancients viewed or produced books. They used the material they thought was best for their era and technology and we do not know in what quantities they were produced.

A forgery is forgery, a lie is a lie no matter how one views those options in any era. we must remember that the witnesses from the ancient world extant today are few in number so we do not have a clear picture on how the ancients viewed anything let alone forgery.

We have personal opinions but those ancient writers never spoke about their societies in general.

#9. It is important to recall that ancient writers who mention the practice of forgery consistently condemn it and indicate that it is deceitful, inappropriate, and wrong. If we are to do so as well probably depends on a number of factors. Modern readers who are religiously committed to the teachings of the New Testament may want to excuse the authors who deceived their readers about their identity, on the grounds, for example, that they were lying in order to achieve a greater good. Other readers may be inclined to acknowledge that the authors violated ancient ethical standards and are best described as I have done so here—as forgers (pg.159)

His words prove my point.

#10. Many Christian readers over the years have failed to see the significance of Paul’s constant attacks on false teachers. One thing that these attacks show, beyond dispute, is that virtually everywhere Paul went, even within his own churches, he and his views were under steady assault by Christians who thought and believed differently. It is easy to miss this rather obvious historical fact, because the writings of Paul’s opponents have not survived the ravages of time, whereas his writings became part of the New Testament. But if we could transport ourselves back to the 50s CE, we would find that everywhere Paul went, he confronted Christian teachers who thought he preached a false gospel. This was true even in the churches that he himself founded. And these opponents were not the same in every place; different locations produced different opponents, with different views.(pg.201)

The generalization here distorts what took place back in Paul’s time. Dr. Ehrman seems to include anyone that had a warm body and could speak as a Christian. I have not come across any such references about Paul in my studies. he did defend the Bible on a daily basis but that doesn’t mean he was thought of as a false teacher bringing a false gospel.

If anything, this quote tells us that some ancient people refused to believe the truth and made all sorts of accusations against it, just like Dr. Ehrman does today. Yet like Dr. Ehrman, none of them presented any divinely inspired works to replace the ones they wanted removed. They relied upon their own ideas and unbelief instead of the truth and fact.

#11. Yet other Christians said that they had to be interpreted literally and followed literally, as do some even today. Early Christians were nothing if not radically diverse. Yet all of these Christian groups claimed not only to be right, but also to be uniquely right—their view, and their view alone, represented the one and only divine truth. As a corollary, they each claimed that their view of the truth was the view taught by Jesus himself and through him to the apostles. And all of these groups had books to prove it, books allegedly written by apostles that supported their points of view.(pgs. 201-2)

All this tells us is that the ancient world was just like today. There were people who believed Jesus and preached the true gospel and there were those who did not but altered what Jesus taught for their own gain.

As Solomon said, nothing is new under the sun.

#12. There is another reason for being relatively certain that Jude did not write the book (referred to earlier, in Chapter 2). Like the lower-class Galilean peasant Peter, the lower-class Galilean peasant Jude could almost certainly not write. Let alone write in Greek. Let alone compose a rhetorically effective letter evidencing detailed knowledge of ancient Jewish texts in Greek. This is an author claiming to be Jude in order to get Christians to read his book and to stand opposed to false teachers who hold a different view of the faith (pgs. 208-9)

Dr. Ehrman does to Jude what he tried to do to Daniel and Solomon. His problem is, he can’t prove this assertion true.

#13. If you’ll remember, Marcion had claimed Paul’s authority for his view that there were two Gods, the inferior wrathful God of the Old Testament and the superior loving God of Jesus. Paul was thought to be the true representative of Jesus’s message, the one who understood that salvation comes apart from the Jewish law. Marcion took Paul’s differentiation between the gospel of Christ and the law of the Jews to an extreme, so that there was in fact no connection between them. Christ represented a different God. The Old Testament God, the God of the Jews, the creation, and the law, was to be escaped by Christians, not worshiped by them.

Marcion’s argument is still used today by many alternative believers who refuse to accept the truth or the correct explanations about God’s OT actions. He shows that being closed-minded to the truth is not a monopoly of the modern world.

#14. We have seen a number of made-up stories already in books that were forged. Whoever forged the Gospel of Peter wrote the account of Jesus emerging from the tomb so tall that his head reached above the skies, with a walking, talking cross emerging behind him. This is not a historical narrative; it is fiction. I would call it a “fabrication,” that is, a “made-up story that tries to pass itself off as historical.” (pg. 258)

I included this last quote simply to say that Dr. Ehrman has no clue why different ancient books were written and distributed. The Left Behind series would be a good example of making up a story based upon a biblical prophecy and illustrating a point to get people to see the reality of accepting the mark of the beast.

The stories may be made up in that series but they cannot be considered forgeries. I am not saying that the Gospel of Peter is following the same type of thinking. I am saying that Dr. Ehrman confuses the whole issue about ancient works, their purpose and use in order to get modern believers to doubt God’s word.

He doesn’t represent the ancients honestly and has an ulterior motive behind his accusations against the Bible. He insults God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, their biblical authors, early Christians with about every paragraph he writes.

He also insults his modern readers and students by failing to present in a credible academic manner any real evidence supporting his charges. There is nothing in his book, Forged, that is convincing or even close to proving that the Bible contains any forgeries or lies. Nor is there anything remotely close to proving the biblical authors were a bunch of anonymous people using disciples’ names.

But this is the way it is with people like Dr. Ehrman. It is easy to accuse and get people confused but it is another thing to actually present verifiable and legitimate evidence to support their accusations.

Where are these anonymous ghost writers? When did they live? How did they get their work inserted into the canon at the different councils? Why did the people at the different councils accept these works over others?

These are but a few of the questions Dr. Ehrman and people like him cannot answer. They make a big claim about a super conspiracy and battle yet they cannot provide any real evidence to support that explanation either.

Even Dr. Ehrman’s own mentor at Princeton disagreed with Dr. Ehrman’s views when he said that the canon were not accepted because they were on an authoritative list but that they were selected because they were authoritative. I am paraphrasing from memory but you can read his words in Lee Stobel’s book ‘A Case For Christ’.

No forgery exists in the Bible.  The early church was not as unintelligent as Dr. Ehrman makes them out to be. They knew which books were from God and which were not. So do we if we give God a chance to show us.

There are also no lies in the Bible. If there were in either case then we all better be looking for a new God to believe and follow for the biblical one would be equal to satan. God is not a deceiver nor a liar. BUT many scholars, academics, experts and so on who study the Bible are. Think about that fact.


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Posted by on September 30, 2014 in academics, Bible, education, faith, leadership, theology


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