Monday, October 14, 2013

Misquoting Jesus, by Bart Ehrman

This is really fascinating. Yes, it's long, but just watch a little bit of it, and you'll probably stay for the whole thing.

The last part is all questions and answers, but that's just as interesting. I was sorry to see it come to an end, even after an hour and a half.

One thing - out of many - which really struck me was how people with an oral tradition don't expect stories to be memorized verbatim. Concern with literal accuracy has been a consequence of literacy. Earlier cultures expected storytellers to vary the telling, improving a story, adapting it to the audience.

Once stories were written down, there was a bigger concern with accurate copying. But even then, errors were common,... and so were deliberate revisions. Some of the most interesting parts of this are the examples of where the Bible was deliberately revised - sometimes significantly - by the people who copied it.


Jim Harris said...

I think I might have mentioned Ehrman to you before. He was an evangelical Christian who studied the Bible so much that he's become a skeptic. If you are studying the Bible he's a great resource. I've read a number of his books and got his lecture series from The Great Courses series. Read Forged, or see if you can find a video on it.

WCG said...

Ah, that's why his name was so familiar. Thanks, Jim.

And thanks for the recommendation. I'm tempted, because he was so very interesting - and entertaining - in this video.

Of course, I'm not really "studying" the Bible, or not in that sense. I mean, I'm not tackling it as a Bible scholar, but just as an ordinary reader without any particular expertise.

Jim Harris said...

But you might like Forged for another reason. It's about how people argued in the first few centuries, and it's very much like Swift Boating - using lies and deceit to get your point across. Basically there were many forms of Christianity in the first three centuries, but the Orthodox Christians found ways to suppress all the opposing views. Orthodox Christians are the winners of a very long political fight. Their opponents are now known as the heretics.

WCG said...

That does sound interesting (I've heard other people recommend the book, too). Of course, I knew that, in a vague sort of way, but it would be interesting - and valuable - to hear the details.

Chimeradave said...

This was really interesting!

WCG said...

Thanks, John. I thought so, too. In fact, I just ordered a couple of his books.