Criticism of Bart Ehrman’s “Misquoting Jesus”
This criticism of Ehrman’s “Misquoting Jesus” can be found on in the book reviews on Amazon here. It also answers the core issue with textual criticism, which is the underlying philosophy and methodology Mr.Ehrman applies to the Bible.
Much has obviously already been written about Bart Ehrman’s “Misquoting Jesus” both here and in scholarly circles, but I want to address the idea that this book is objective scholarship. If the book were objective, then Ehrman would have done readers a great service since he does give a crash course for laymen on textual criticism of the Bible. I have respect for Ehrman’s knowledge, especially since he learned so much from the late Dr. Bruce Metzger who was a foremost practitioner in the field (and Ehrman’s mentor to whom he dedicates this book); however, I don’t respect what I perceive to be Ehrman’s agenda, which is to corrupt the faith of as many believers as possible in the same way that his has been corrupted.
Ehrman clearly states, in his introduction, how his faith collapsed when he realized that the Bible was not inerrant. The problem is that Ehrman takes the word “inerrant” (as admittedly do many Christians) to mean `one-hundred percent exact’, so it’s easy to see how his belief system collapsed once he saw that different manuscripts didn’t have all of the exact same words or passages. We are better off, however, if we think of “inerrancy” as referring to the truths found in the Bible; none of the truths (doctrines) of the Bible are changed in any way by the `corruptions’ of scripture that Ehrman points out. Ehrman himself concedes that the vast majority of the `mistakes’ in the manuscripts are minor errors of spelling or grammar, but he then overstates his case in writing that the remaining one or two percent of `corruptions’ (`mistakes’/’changes’ – whichever term you care to use) can change the way entire passages or books are interpreted. He especially emphasizes the idea of Jesus’ being angry in Mark 1:41 and asserts that it changes our entire view of Jesus. How can this be the case when we read about Jesus being angry or indignant in other passages of Mark (which Ehrman does not assert have been corrupted)? The Bible also tells us that He was in every way like us, but without sin. Since He was just like us, He obviously became angry at times as well. So, again, how does that completely change our concept of Jesus? (Additionally, there are other passages in which Jesus becomes indignant about people’s lack of faith, so this circumstance is not unique either).