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

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  16,245 ratings  ·  1,340 reviews
For almost 1,500 years, the New Testament manuscripts were copied by hand––and mistakes and intentional changes abound in the competing manuscript versions. Religious and biblical scholar Bart Ehrman makes the provocative case that many of our widely held beliefs concerning the divinity of Jesus, the Trinity, and the divine origins of the Bible itself are the results of bo ...more
Paperback, 266 pages
Published February 6th 2007 by HarperOne (first published November 2005)
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Average rating 3.88  · 
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 ·  16,245 ratings  ·  1,340 reviews

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Feb 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: religion
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
Sep 10, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spiritual
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
Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~
Jan 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 4-star, year-2017
Before I write my review, I must emphasize that this book is not making a case against Christianity. It in no way seeks to destroy the your faith, your system of belief, or convert you to atheism/agnosticism. I feel this is an important disclaimer.

Something about me, I always feel very lost when it comes to selecting educational books on my own. I don't like to perpetuate false information, and it's overwhelming to select literature that maintains an interesting narrative while also providin
Skylar Burris
Dec 23, 2007 rated it it was ok
Shelves: bible, christianity
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
Feb 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Great reading about the foundation of Christian religion


The Bible, one of the most read book in the world, it's curious and quite ingenious how in the early beginning of Christian religion was selected and manipulated the several tons of scriptures that they were around and somebody needs to put them in some controlled order.

How the most "popular" scriptures were chosen to be the "official" ones, and how the Christian religion had to take over other popular celebrations to
Kevin Shepherd
Feb 17, 2021 rated it really liked it
There is a lot of information here to digest, mull over and sort through. Ehrman’s assertions are backed up by over 130 notations citing over 70 sources. This is no study for the faint of heart, and anyone who is dismissive after a mere perusal is asinine in their approach.

All preconceptions aside, ‘Misquoting Jesus’ is not an assault on the Bible. It is an intelligent, well composed refutation of the delusional concept of biblical inerrancy, and even though most of the scriptural inconsistenci
Jan 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 26, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Martin Pierce
Jun 16, 2012 rated it did not like it
There were minor variations in the New Testament manuscripts. This is old news.

Unfortunately, Ehrman, a former fundamentalist Christian, thinks it's such a big deal that it casts doubt on the veracity of the Christian faith. Practically nobody agrees, except for people like atheists who already have a bone to pick with Christians.

The truth is that no other ancient text is as well supported as the New Testament. Minor variations are to be expected. The ones we find the the NT manuscripts don't
Feb 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A real eye opener.

I'm familiar with the point the author was trying to make in this book. For a couple of years now, I've known the Bible isn't as infallible as most Christians make it look. I've know that the book is littered with errors by its writers throughout history. But I haven't had time to do a proper research on the forms these errors took. Reading this book has saved me a lot of time.

It's a bit unfortunate most Christians aren't aware of Biblical textual criticism. It's almost like
Jun 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: religion
There was no New Testament until the fourth century. Until that time assorted factions warred over all sorts of different beliefs about Jesus. Some thought he was all human, others he was all God. Some believed there were many gods, others there must be only a few. Their assorted beliefs were transcribed by the individual congregations themselves, obviously representing their own particular view of reality. What happened to those oral and written traditions and documents and how they evolved and ...more
Emily Ann Meyer
May 24, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
11811 (Eleven)
Feb 27, 2016 rated it liked it
The repetition in this book was ridiculous. I don't know how many times the author mentioned that the gospels are copies of copies of copies but it was more than a few. Probably more than a dozen. Eventually, he gets to examples which made it interesting but I'm hoping the book he released todayJesus Before the Gospels: How the Earliest Christians Remembered, Changed, and Invented Their Stories of the Savior, has fewer redundancies. I'm about to find out.

This was a decent introduction to the to
Dec 31, 2007 rated it it was ok
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
Jan 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
I originally started my review with a big long rant about why even though I still believe in God I no longer go to church or even believe in organized religion. I’m truncating it down to this: the unexamined faith, just like the unexamined life, is not worth living. I feel that if more people understood that modern day Christianity is a product of its times but also the product of what was once a very diverse systems of beliefs and understandings of Jesus’ role, or that it is recognized fact tha ...more
Mar 03, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: nonfiction
First of all, for a man who values the exact words written down by writers and copyists, it is ironic that this book is so titled. In all of the examples the author uses to show how New Testament texts have been altered, almost none contain anything Jesus actually said.

I can only surmise that falsely leading readers into believing the opposite would sell more books.

But let's move on to the content.

Textual criticism is not a science. It takes hold of old manuscripts, compares them, applies certa
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
Literary Chic
May 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
You had me at "reformed fundamentalist author."

Very interesting and the author was fascinating. Definitely read the prologue if you get to this book. The author's education arc adds a lot to the books perspective.

Ultimately if you're a believer, this probably won't change your mind. If you find yourself firmly on the fence or a dyed in the wool atheist, you'll find great information.
Jul 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 him
Brian Griffith
Aug 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
Ehrman believes the history of our great stories matters, and his exploration of the New Testament's evolution is an enormous accomplishment. This is a work building on hundreds of years of research, for example, Stephanus's 1550 translation with marginal notes identifying variations between 14 different ancient Greek manuscripts. Or John Mill's 1707 comparison of over 100 Greek manuscripts to show 30,000 points of difference. And Ehrman's data base includes over 5,700 manuscripts in Greek alone ...more
Aug 25, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Faith Justice
May 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ebook, research
As part of my research into the early development of the Christian Church, I took an online course "How Jesus Became God" by Dr. Ehrman, which I very much enjoyed. When this book showed up as an eBook bargain, I got it and promptly lost it on my huge digital TBR shelf. It surfaced when I needed to do more research and I found it immensely helpful.

Ehrman does a good job covering the history of the developing Bible from it's earliest roots to more recent versions, through translations from and in
Sep 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: religion, history
This book is fascinating and deep. It presents the history of documentation,translation and transmission of the New Testament in a critical way. There are more variations among the 16000 old manuscripts available than the words in the New Testament. The reasons for these variations were illiteracy of scribers , mistakes, theological differences, worldviews etc. In short the inspired words of God were altered by humans. The question is if God didn't stop the alteration in his words,then may be th ...more
Stephanie *Eff your feelings*
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
Brian Mckean
Mar 29, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: faith
I kept waiting for the punch line, but Ehrman over-promised and under-delivered. The controversies he highlights -- such as they are -- are nits at best. Vox Day wrote a book responding to Ehrman, and I'd recommend that instead. ...more
T Fool
May 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed-books
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
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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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“The Bible, at the end of the day, is a very human book.” 10 likes
“What if we have to figure out how to live and what to believe on our own, without setting the Bible up as a false idol—or an oracle that gives is a direct line of communication with the Almighty?” 4 likes
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