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Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible & Why

3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  9,093 ratings  ·  846 reviews
When world-class biblical scholar Bart Ehrman first began to study the texts of the Bible in their original languages he was startled to discover the multitude of mistakes and intentional alterations that had been made by earlier translators. In Misquoting Jesus, Ehrman tells the story behind the mistakes and changes that ancient scribes made to the New Testament and shows ...more
ebook, 272 pages
Published October 6th 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (first published November 1st 2005)
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This really is a fantastic book. When Wendy recommended it I thought that it would be pretty much the same old stuff that one would expect when an Atheist recommends a book on Religion. Let me explain why this isn’t what you might expect.

Firstly, it is written by someone who I assume still considers himself a Christian. He begins this book by telling the reader his ‘life story’ – how he became a born again Christian at fifteen and how this lead him to become fascinated in The Bible. Not in the w
Juhem Navarro
If you read the reviews written in the Barnes and Noble website, you’ll probably see three types of review:

1. The smart ass academic or pseudoacademic who says the book isn’t that good anyway
2. The fundamentalist Christian appalled at the idea of someone doubting the infallibility of the Bible
3. Your average Joe that finds the book quite interesting

In my case, I could be a #1 considering that I’m both a smart ass and an academic (or so I like to think). In the case ofMisquoting Jesus Cover bi
Please, if you're Christian, read this. If you're religious, read this. If you're atheist, read this. I guess what I'm saying is read this. Misquoting Jesus reminds me of the game we played in elementary school. The teacher whispers a story in the ear of one child and it's whispered from one ear to the next until the last child tells the story out loud. And guess what? It's considerably different from the original. No dah! Well, imagine this . . . A book is copied over and over and over by monks ...more
Skylar Burris
While I found it interesting to see what differed in various manuscripts, I did not find any of these changes as sensational, apparently, as the back cover blurb writers did. Ehrman's subject and thesis are interesting, but, unfortunately, he is quite repetitive and his arguments are poorly organized. The introduction and conclusion are the clearest, most arresting portions of the book. The introduction is an intriguing spiritual autobiography, but his conclusion leans a little too heavily towar ...more
Mar 01, 2008 Wendy rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who like history, are curious about the Bible..whether skeptic or religious
As a biblical scholar, the author wanted to read the Bible in the languages in which it was first written and so studied them and went deeper into the texts. His decision to go deeper, to fully appreciate it, led him to find out as the old saying goes more than he bargained for. It led him to reevaluate his faith which had been based on a belief in the literal truth of what he had been taught it said and in the inerrancy of it as brought down thru the it was originally written.

What he
This was pretty good for what it was, a textual criticism of the Bible. Sure it's a little repetitive at times, but I think this is the result of the author trying to simplify and explain a complex topic to an ignorant (at least relatively ignorant) audience.

Bart Ehrman attended Moody Bible College and finished his Bachelors degree at Wheaton College. He then received his PhD and M.Div from Princeton Theological Seminary.

A born-again Christian, Ehrman's desire to understand the Bible led him to
Ehrman was just a teenager when he had a born-again experience that led him to devote his life to the study of Christianity. Hoping to help defend the Bible as the true word of God, he focused his studies on the origins of the Bible, only to discover that the history of a book whose words many faithful take as infallible truth is nowhere near as clear as most people would like to believe. It seems that God suffered the same fate as many great writers and had his words altered by numerous editors ...more
A must for anyone who wants to know WHY the Bible isn't inerrant. A wonderful work by a biblical scholar who was motivated by his deep faith and only wanted to find the truth. One of the most interesting aspects is that the reader will come to understand how biblical scholars work and the methods they use to decide which text represents an older tradition than another text. Also, those new to the study of comparative religion will probably be amazed to learn (or refuse to believe) that some part ...more
Emily Ann Meyer
Jun 12, 2007 Emily Ann Meyer rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: objective scholars of religion
Shelves: history, religion, 2007
I wish there were a 1/2 star method, because I didn't quite like this up to 4 stars, but I liked it more than 3.

The book was not quite what I expected, inasmuch as it focused a lot more on the individual motivations of scribes and/or transcription errors rather than the major political and theological debates that also contributed to changes in the text.

There is much of this that I already knew - changes are made and mistakes happen. What was new to me, and what really made me sit up and take n
Ehrman did a good job of explaining textual criticism for the average person. The reason I only give two stars is because I learned pretty much everything he says in this book at a conservative evangelical seminary. In other words, he writes as if these things are a shocking secret to Christians when most Christians, even the most evangelical ones, learned this ages ago and are fine with it. This book should encourage Christian teachers and pastors to teach these things to the people in their ch ...more
As a believer in "verbal plenary inspiration", which this author once cherished but came to see as ridiculous, I am curious to hear his experience and case. I want to admit up front that I already find myself distrusting his conclusions because of an assumption/leap-in-logic that he made back on page 11 about God's motives and choices. But, that said, he still holds my interest on a number of points.

Update: I am kind of disappointed in this author, because I feel like he promised these earth-sha
I found this book interesting. A biblical scholar, who was a born again Christian as a teen, decides to not only study the bible but other more secular studies. He does this to be able to prove to none believers that the bible is without error. But finds out he has been very, very, wrong about this fact. He says at one point that "there are more errors in the new testament then there are words in it". Most of the errors where honest mistakes by the scribes copying these manuscripts and the rest ...more
Aaron Jordan
I listened to this book as an audiobook. I generally enjoyed much of this book and found it to be very interesting. On the other hand, I also sensed that the author was writing with an agenda that missed the mark. He seemed to be relishing the prideful pleasure of iconoclasm as he set himself up as the smartest man in the room to enlighten us poor simpletons who actually believe in the Bible. I suppose I should also blame the narrator for the smug, sneering, condescending tone of this book. I h ...more
Erik Graff
Aug 21, 2014 Erik Graff rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Christians
Recommended to Erik by: Thomas Miley
Shelves: religion
Ehrman claims that this, his overview of the formulations of what have come down to us as the texts of the Christian Scriptures, is a work that hadn't been done before. That is a bit of an overstatement. Any work of textual criticism applied to this corpus must needs cover such ground. Such originality as there is to Jesus Misquoted is in its engagingly accessible style.

Usually I find self-reference off-putting when used in scholarship. In this case, however, Ehrman's introductory account of how
I read this after reading Jesus, Interrupted, also by Bart D. Ehrman. This book is slightly more technical than the other, and I would recommend reading Jesus, Interrupted first, then this one.

Ehrman begins this book by describing how he was raised as a Christian and was so fascinated by the Bible that he began intently studying it, and I do mean intently. He was so interested in it that he learned Greek, Latin, and some of the ancient languages in order to translate the ancient manuscripts hims
T Fool
Devout Christians should pay attention to this. Not just those strongly adhering to The Word, but those also who fashion a faith on broader foundations that include any writings. People write, take dictation, transcribe, copy, and pass-on traditions that become more and more mistake-prone with each production.

It's not just that we in America are reading English versions which rely on translating notions and cultural contexts almost certainly to veer from the original setting, but for which we ca
Nov 20, 2008 Heather rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Heather by: Robin
i really wanted more from this book; it felt like the introduction to a more in-depth exploration. as such, there certainly were things new to me, but as someone with mild exposure to exegesis, much of this was known territory, and i repeatedly felt frustrated at the cursory descriptions (and terse! footnotes).

that said, i am glad i read this, and i highly recommend this to *anyone* who takes the bible to be the inerrant word of god. ehrman's writing style is relatively easy to understand, has a
Michael Camp
If you've always wondered how to make sense of the Bible, Ehrman's book is a great place to start. Having pretty much grown up believing the Bible is always literally true, I had already made a shift in that area by the time I read Ehrman. Conservatives hate this book because they are still in that literalist mindset. But Christians have no reason to fear this book. It is full of good scholarship, logic, and respect for the original writers and historical context of Scripture. Ehrman concedes th ...more
What happens when a young man, born-again graduate of Moody Bible School and Wheaton College, who reveres the Bible, especially the NT wants to read the manuscripts of the NT in the original Greek language? Professor Bart Ehrman, chair of the Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina discusses briefly his journey and reviews the scholarship which has discovered that over time the words and actions of, as well as the beliefs about Jesus have been changed by copyists/scribes over a per ...more
I’ve been thinking for at least the last year or so that while the principles of modern Biblical criticism date at least from the 19th century you would think the average person in the 21st century pew still considers the Bible to be one book…divinely inspired, word for word…cover to cover, covers included. Think about that. It’s been well over 100 years since German scholar Julius Wellhausen published his work on the documentary hypothesis (J, E, P, and D), and what—maybe 90% (my own guess) of ...more
An explanation from a noted textual scholar, as to why literal interpretation of the bible is simply not possible. His question is "where is the actual bible you're taking literally?" The one we have is an amalgam of manuscripts, few of them complete, many of them fragments no bigger than a matchbook, copied, recopied over millennia, with many mistakes, many intentional changes on the part of scribes, and thousands of differences, all regularized and heavily edited by scholars of varying stripes ...more
This is a fascinating, well-researched, and very readable book about, well, the title accurately says it. The author gives some background as to why he became interested in the topic (beginning with his own "born-again" experience at the age of 15) and how he got into the field of "textual criticism." The emphasis is really on looking at the text as a piece of historical literature, rather than from a faith and doctrine perspective. Being no Bible scholar, I learned a great deal from this book, ...more
When I first started nosing through the Bible about twenty years ago, I noticed that nearly every page had footnotes saying something like "other ancient texts read..." and "according to Hebrew texts; Syriac reads..." Like many American Protestants (or proto-Protestants, which is what I was), I had absorbed the idea that the Bible was somehow, mysteriously produced directly by God. Without really thinking about it, I assumed that I was holding a text translated from a single document, the origin ...more
This was recommended to me by a friend who is quite religious as an excellent treatment of problems with literal reading of the Bible. The book clearly lays out how the original text of the Bible was written in Greek and then hand-copied over and over by scribes. Particularly in the early days these scribes were barely literate AND had their own agendas. Therefore both intentional and unintentional mistakes were made, things added, and things deleted. We don't have any of the original documents, ...more
David Withun
To be completely honest, reading this book was a waste of my time. I generally enjoy Ehrman's work, in spite of his sensationalist style, but I was very disappointed with this one. Misquoting Jesus was filled with page after page of Ehrman's typical version of "shock and awe," none of which is very often shocking or awing, but with none of the redeeming information and interesting facts that his other books usually contain.

Rather than a scholarly and engaging look at the manuscript traditions of
Demetrius Rogers
Bart Ehrman, chairman of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, has authored this book as both an introduction to the field of New Testament Textual Criticism and a critique of ancient scribal practices. In this book, Ehrman has provided the reader with a brief and handy overview of the history of textual transmission and the development of critical methodology in the attempt of reconstructing the original text. Ehrman has not only provided the reader with an objective view of th ...more
I enjoyed this book from many perspectives.

I enjoyed reading about a fundamentalist who actually saw the light and understood the Bible, like the Constitution, was intended to be a living document - not a frozen one.

And that the whole purpose of Christianity, in Jesus, was to foment change in how people viewed the things they previously believed were absolutes as well (Laws of Moses).

As an aside, I had been down this road before. I took a course in college called the New Testament as Literature.
This was a really interesting book. I knew there were problems with the texts, of course, but I had no idea there were "more variations than words in the New Testament."

I knew some of the basics of textural criticism before but it was fascinating to see how it applied to these particular texts. And I'd known that the oldest forms of Latin were written without grammar or even spaces between words, but I had no idea the same was true of Ancient Greek.

It was also interesting that the older texts
A book that does a fine job of compacting hundreds of years of Biblical scholarship into a readable and compelling story. The author's own journey, from non-faith, to faith, and back, provides a seldom-referred to but important back story. What is most shocking for me, and I imagine for most readers who were brought up Christian, is how many years after Jesus the books that make up the New Testament were written, AND how many textually distinctive versions of almost every book exist. In other wo ...more
Excellent book on the origins of the writings that make up the Bible. Or more precisely the way the original scriptures were changed, sometimes by error and sometimes on purpose. Anyone interested in the origins of Christianity and how it changed from a "cult" with various factions to a world-wide religion must read this book. Ehrmann not only points out how certain sections of the gospels were changed or added on but he goes into detail on how historians do their detective work in trying to get ...more
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The Hitler button 6 93 Sep 19, 2014 08:04PM  
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Bart D. Ehrman is the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill. He came to UNC in 1988, after four years of teaching at Rutgers University. At UNC he has served as both the Director of Graduate Studies and the Chair of the Department of Religious Studies.

A graduate of Wheaton College (Illinois), Professor Ehrman received both his Masters of Div
More about Bart D. Ehrman...
Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (and Why We Don't Know About Them) Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew God's Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question - Why We Suffer Forged: Writing in the Name of God Lost Scriptures: Books That Did Not Make It Into the New Testament

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“Moreover, his view was precisely the one that many English Protestants feared would result from a careful analysis of the New Testament text, namely that the wide-ranging variations in the tradition showed that Christian faith could not be based solely on scripture (the Protestant Reformation doctrine of sola scriptura), since the text was unstable and unreliable. Instead, according to this view, the Catholics must be right that faith required the apostolic tradition preserved in the (Catholic) church.” 1 likes
“We might mean different things. How can you tell? Only by reading each of us carefully and seeing what each of us has to say—not by pretending that we are both saying the same thing. We’re often saying very different things.” 0 likes
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