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The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture: The Effect of Early Christological Controversies on the Text of the New Testament

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  283 ratings  ·  28 reviews
Victors not only write history: they also reproduce the texts. Bart Ehrman explores the close relationship between the social history of early Christianity and the textual tradition of the emerging New Testament, examining how early struggles between Christian heresy and orthodoxy affected the transmission of the documents over which many of the debates were waged. He make ...more
Paperback, 1st edition, 314 pages
Published December 1st 1997 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1993)
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Dan Graser
Mar 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It seems like a lot of folks either didn't know what they were getting into with this book or completely misunderstood the primary message. First of all, unlike a lot of Ehrman's output, this is not intended for mass-market appeal rather it is more suited for serious study of the New Testament. Second, the argument is not that every change in the early scriptures was done for purely intentional reasons and he acknowledges that most changes were accidental and not particularly substantive, in man ...more
Candace
Jun 17, 2012 rated it liked it
Ehrman's thesis in this book is that many of the textual variants that are found in the manuscripts of the New Testament are the result of intentional changes to the text on the part of the scribes who copied the texts. He contends that the scribes made these changes to the text as a result of, and in response to, the various Christological disputes of the second and third centuries and he analyzes several variant readings with this contention in mind.

While I agree with Ehrman that the scribes
...more
Jon
Dec 24, 2012 rated it did not like it
Read the book Revisiting the Corruption of the New Testament by Wallace. It clearly refutes a lot of claims and exaggerations found within this book by Ehrman.
Brian Griffith
Dec 30, 2020 rated it liked it
This is a difficult book, written mainly for scholars of ancient Greek, Coptic and Latin texts. The writing of it was like an archaeological mining operation through mounds of papyrus or parchment. Still, all the sifting and meticulous cross-comparison of handwritten manuscripts yields nuggets of evidence on the shaping of scripture over time. Ehrman finds patterns in the scribal alterations, usually toward conformity with an emerging orthodox doctrine about Christ. The Jewish-Christian referenc ...more
Sharman Wilson
Ehrman lets you know up front that most of this book is written for Bible scholars. He encourages the rest of us to read the introduction, read the beginnings and summary of each chapter, skimming as desired thru the meat of the chapters. I tried to read it cover to cover, but after the first chapter I decided to take the author's advice and thus got a lot more out of it.

His thesis is that as orthodox scribes copied out new manuscripts of the Bible, they felt obliged to add, subtract, or tweak w
...more
Thomas Simmons
Sep 02, 2011 rated it liked it
Seriously flawed. Was expecting a work of scholarship and got a lot of hot air. The 'evidence' is largely spurious, seriously limited in scope and the author draws conclusions from a lack of actual substance. C.E. Hill (Who Chose the Gospels) and others have basically had to put this work into the category of pop fiction. ...more
James R
Jul 05, 2022 rated it did not like it
This book is at best refuting evangelicals & Protestants who follow the 'Bible alone' concept. For the bulk of Christians (Roman Catholic, Coptic, Eastern Orthodox, Russian Orthodox), the important issue is being a member of the church and obeying the bishops. The Gospels & Scripture are important, but they're just a part of the church. More important are the sacraments, way of life, & the liturgical texts. If you've been to Mass or the liturgy, far more important than the reading of the Gospels ...more
Robert Gebhardt
This is way beyond my pay grade, so I'm not really in any position to give it a rating. It also went into much more detail than I could handle. But I did find many of the concepts fascinating, such as Docetism, and the idea that, since Jesus was divine, he wasn't really human and only ate food to make his apostles relate to him (then debunked in instances when, for example, he asked for some water because he was thirsty on the cross). Or that he had Simon of Cyrene go on the cross in his stead, ...more
AJ
Jan 23, 2022 rated it really liked it
Finished! Super hard book to read for just a hobbyist like myself. I'm sure this is a college text. Plus I don't know any Greek. But I understood more than I expected and as usual thoroughly enjoyed reading Professor Ehrman. Fantastic book if you are interested in early Christologies of the first three centuries. ...more
Rosster Montreal
Apr 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I don't agree on his views on Christ mythicism, but as a scholar of the early church, I thought his ideas were very good. ...more
Ben Reynolds
Aug 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a must-read for those interested in textual criticism and early Christianity. It's a serious piece of scholarship and has remained influential since it was first published in 1993. Along with the work of others, it has lead to a new appreciation of textual variants as windows into the the history and interpretation of the text, rather than chaff to be discarded in the quest to reconstruct the 'original text'. Ehrman puts forward a solid argument that many of the variants in the gospels w ...more
james spellman
Mar 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Variations on the truth?

A very complex study of textual variations from the early centuries after Christ and possible motives. Is what we 're a d what was written? Is our interpretation correct or are we led to believe a variation on the theme? Mind boggling and to some degree, scary.
...more
Fred Kohn
Jan 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Put on notice by the author that this book contained technical discussions, I was prepared for a difficult read. In fact, the book was largely free of technical jargon. I suppose my knowing a bit of Greek helped, but I can't imagine even not knowing Greek being an impediment for a reasonably dedicated reader. Being put on guard by another reviewer that this book was "seriously flawed," I read it more closely than perhaps I might have otherwise. Armed with my 21st edition of Novum Testamentum Gra ...more
Eric
Sep 20, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: christian
A friend sent me a complementary copy of this as evidence for the intentional manipulation of early Christian manuscripts for the purpose of stamping out the numerous heresies that plagued the nascent church. There's a run on sentence, phew, sorry. Breath, in out.

The evidence is compelling, but it's not particularly disconcerting. Regardless of what happened to 3rd/4th century copies of the Bible, our modern translations revert to older sources that are not tainted by these manipulations. While
...more
Cera
Oct 25, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: grazed
A very interesting look at the way in which battles over 'correct' Christology shaped the text of the New Testament. This is written primarily for scholars working in the same field of textual criticism, so it has the benefits & drawbacks of being extremely meticulous, down to detailed discussions of New Testament Greek grammar. Ehrman is, luckily, aware of this, and structures each chapter with a more general opening and introduction, so that readers like myself can skim more lightly over some ...more
Alicia
Sep 10, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: spirituality
There were some parts of this book that I thought were great and other parts that were long and the arguments seemed like kind of a stretch. The parts of this book that I really like talk about the different things that different groups of early Christians believed. Something we don't hear about very much in church are that early followers had some very different ideas about things that what has become mainstream today. The parts of the book that I didn't enjoy as much were the parts where he ar ...more
Dave Maddock
Oct 20, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: religion
The methodical, detailed nature of this book is both its greatest advantage and weakness. At its heart, the book builds up a strong case for orthodox scribal alteration of the New Testament through the sheer weight of examples it presents. Fundamentally, it is easy to see how this approach is critical to the persuasiveness of the argument if one reads his popular rewrite of this material in Misquoting Jesus.

However, the minutiae of Greek grammar and its misuse is only as interesting as the part
...more
Frank Bella
Mar 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This was not easy reading, as it is actually written for New Testament scholars, but the research by Bart Ehrman is very diligent. He is a historian who is an expert in ancient languages such as Greek and Aramaic. The average reader should try "Misquoting Jesus", also by Ehrman. ...more
Cliff
Jan 24, 2008 rated it really liked it
A good read on New Testament Textualism. Ehrman has taken the place of his mentor Bruce Metzger as the authority on the subject. However, Bart certainly has a theological bias that permeates the work and colors some of his conclusions...caveat lector.
John Alvord
Dec 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
While the level of his scholarship is beyond reproach, still Ehrman belies a tendency to grind his axe against his ultra-conservative religious upbringing, as do many of his later, better known books.
Michael Brady
Jan 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, religion
"It is never easy from the historian's perspective, to determine whether the text led Christians to embrace a doctrine or whether doctrine led Christians to modify the text."

One of Ehrman's three best books on the subject of early Christianity.
...more
Brett
An interesting book as a scholastic (non-lds) study of the beginning of the apostasy. Some sections are difficult to get through
Uncle
Jul 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
After reading 'Misquoting Jesus' I picked up this and one other book by Bart Ehrman; 'Forged'
For a review of why I like his books read the review under 'Misquoting Jesus'.
...more
Jared
Mar 03, 2011 is currently reading it
MUCH better than Misquoting Jesus. There are far fewer grandiose claims and far more scholarly research than Misquoting Jesus.
Diogenes d'Mayberry
A more scholarly read, not necessarily for general knowledge.
Toney
rated it it was amazing
Feb 13, 2017
John  Ervin
rated it it was amazing
Oct 16, 2009
Rob Squires
rated it it was amazing
Mar 25, 2014
Robert Sewell
rated it really liked it
Jan 23, 2013
Josh Smith
rated it it was ok
Aug 26, 2021
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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
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