Monday, November 8, 2010

Ehrman's Forthcoming Book

Bart Ehrman has a forthcoming volume provocatively titled Forged: Writing in the Name of God--Why the Bible's Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are.I would assume the subject matter of the book is the issue of attribution and pseudepigraphy in the New Testament corpus (in addition to repeating his discussions on non-canonical texts, early Christian diversity and textual variants as he seems to do in all his popular books.)  And yes, you are right, Ehrman has already touched the topic in some detail in Jesus Interrupted (chapter four).

HT: Tim Henderson//Earliest Christianity


  1. I went to a presentation he gave about a year ago on the subject. He had a pretty lousy definition of "forgery." He defined a "forgery" as any document with either no, or a false authorial claim. Thus, he dismissed 20 of the 27 books in the NT as "forgeries," even though many are anonymous (only the 7 undisputed letters of Paul escaped the title). It's quite fair to use the word forgery to describe pseuepigraphic works (or, at least that's one legitimate interpretation), but I found it quite strange that he called anonymous works forgeries. Hopefully he's changed his definitions since then. I went into that presentation wanting to be sympathetic to Ehrman but wasn't impressed :-(.

  2. When Ehrman is speaking for an audience he tends to become loose in terms and analogy in order to create shock value. I am sure in the above book he will use the term loosely as it is the title. In Jesus Interrupted he breaks the remaining 19 works (he counts Revelation as by "a John") as (1) "Misattributed writings. As we have already seen, the Gospels are probably misattributed. John the disciple did not write John, and Matthew did not write Matthew..."; (2) "Homonymous writings. The term “homonymy” means
    “having the same name.” A “homonymous writing” is one that is written by someone who has the same name as someone who is famous. For example, the book of James was no doubt written by someone named James, but the author does not
    claim to be any particular James..." and (3) "Pseudepigraphic writings. Some books of the New Testament were written in the names of people who did not actually write them..." (all from page 113).