Could much of the New Testament be a forgery?
Acclaimed biblical scholar Ehrman (Religious Studies/Univ. of North Carolina; Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible, 2010, etc.) critically examines the authorship of the books of the New Testament, a debate that has continued for the past two centuries. Here the author adds a level of condemnation that past scholars have been loath to use. Calling any epistles written falsely in another’s name “forgeries,” Ehrman steps away from academic niceties and convoluted explanations. The author attacks the conventional wisdom that writing in another’s name was accepted and even seen as an honor in the ancient world. He also counters wide-spread theories used to explain differences in style and word choice, such as that of the use of secretaries. However, he is careful to separate instances of what he terms forgery from other cases in which authorship is in question, such as the four Gospels, in which authorship was ascribed by later readers and not claimed erroneously by the original writer. Ehrman also discusses elements other than the New Testament, including early letters, gospels and other writings that never made it into the Christian canon. His overarching conclusion is condemning: “There were numerous ways to lie in and through literature in antiquity, and some Christians took advantage of the full panoply in their efforts to promote their view of the faith.” Though many of Ehrman’s theories are not new, his approach will be controversial. For example, many readers will find it hard to accept the writer of Acts as being “spectacularly successful” at deception.
Gloves-are-off review of New Testament authorship.