Bart Answers Readers

How Many Books in the New Testament Were Forged? – The Bart Ehrman Blog – Christian Article

In response to the lecture on ancient practices of pseudepigraphy (writing in the name of a famous person when, alas, you are actually someone else), I received this important question, getting to the very basics – the heart and soul of the issue for students of early Christianity.   QUESTION: Dr Ehrman I know you have published and spoken on the topic, but would you mind sharing which NT books are pseudepigraphal?   RESPONSE Yes indeed, one of the reasons…

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Is There a “Best” Bible Translation Out There? A Blast from the Past – The Bart Ehrman Blog – Christian Article

Here is one of the most frequently questions I have received over the years; I addressed it exactly seven years ago on the blog, as I have just discovered while rummaging through the archives.  And since it continually comes up, I thought it would be a good time to address it again.  Here’s what I said then (and what I still think now!).   ******************************************************************************** QUESTION: Dr. Ehrman, most of your readers doe not know the ancient languages thatthe Bible…

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Were Miracle Stories Originally in the Gospels? – The Bart Ehrman Blog – Christian Article

Looking through old posts on the blog, I came across this very interesting and important question from seven years ago.  It’s a question I continue to get on occasion, so I thought we all might profit by thinking about it again.  (And now, older and wiser, I would answer almost exactly the same way!) QUESTION: I have looked up the content of all the papyri I’m aware of (off of links on wikipedia, so who knows if they’re accurate). It…

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Why Did Ancient Christian Forgers Commit Forgery? – The Bart Ehrman Blog – Christian Article

Here is an intriguing question I received recently about the use of literary “forgery” in antiquity.  A “forgery,” in the technical sense I’m using it, refers to a very specific phenomenon: it is not simply making up a false story or perpetrating some other kind of falsehood.  It refers, specifically, to a book whose author falsely claims to be a (famous) person.   If I wrote a novel and claimed I was Stephen King, that would be a forgery. Sometimes these…

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When Did Jesus Become Sinless? – The Bart Ehrman Blog – Christian Article

I recently received a question from a blog member about when it was in the Christian tradition that Jesus came to be thought of as “perfect,” without sin.   I feel no great need to answer the question myself because my friend and occasional guest blog poster Jeffery Siker, long-time professor of New Testament at Loyola Marymount University, has written an entire book on the topic.   And so I asked him to prepare some blogposts, and here’s the first one. For…

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Early Christian Liars – The Bart Ehrman Blog – Christian Article

Yesterday I started explaining in some depth how forgers in early Christianity – that is, authors who falsely claimed to be, say, Peter or Paul or James (as in the case of the authors of 2 Peter, 1 Timothy, the Proto-Gospel of James, etc.) – could justify their lies.  I need to stress, the idea that they were lying is not just a modern one.  The ancients talk about forgery a good deal; they never approve of it and they…

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Could Christian Forgers Justifying Lying? – The Bart Ehrman Blog – Christian Article

Yesterday, in response to a question, I started to discuss the age-old problem of literary forgery (authors lying about their true identity), and specifically the question of why Christians would engage in it.  In my two books on the topic I spend considerable time trying to demonstrate that forgery was indeed understood – in antiquity – to involve lying, and that the authors who claimed (falsely) to be Plato or Galen or Peter or Paul knew they were lying.  But…

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The Only Story of Jesus as a Boy in the New Testament – The Bart Ehrman Blog – Christian Article

Based on the feedback I’ve received on the blog this past week, I’ve decided to reinstate the weekly Readers’ Mailbag.   I have actually continued responding to questions since abandoning the feature of the blog, but in a less formal way.  Formalizing it seems like a popular option, and so I’ll try to do this once a week.   I start this week with an interesting question about Jesus as a boy.   QUESTION Outside the birth narratives, the only canonical story…

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The Dangers of Fundamentalism – The Bart Ehrman Blog – Christian Article

I’m out of town for a long weekend and so away from my books, and have decided to re-post some particularly intriguing (IMHO) posts from many years ago.  Here’s a hot one.   QUESTION: You note that fundamentalism is dangerous and harmful. How do you define fundamentalism and why do you think it’s dangerous?   RESPONSE: There are of course actual definitions of “fundamentalism” that you can find in scholarship on religion, but I sense that you’re asking more for…

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What *Greek* Version of the New Testament Do I Use? – The Bart Ehrman Blog – Christian Article

  I often indicate that when citing the New Testament in English, I’m giving my own translation, and that understandably has led some people to think I’ve actually citing a completed translation that I’ve made but not published.  A reader of the blog recently asked me how he could get access to the translation.  But I’ve never written a translation of the NT; when I say that a quotation is in “my” translation I simply mean that I’m reading the…

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Fundamentalist Arguments Ad Absurdum about the “Original” Text of the NT – The Bart Ehrman Blog – Christian Article

I’ve been looking for a scrappy question to tangle with, and today I received one!   QUESTION: You make the case that we do not have the original New Testament manuscripts.  In fact, we do not have any complete manuscripts of books that eventually became part of the New Testament until the 3rd century, correct?  The response often given by fundamentalist Christians is this:  So, you don’t believe that Socrates died by drinking hemlock?  You don’t believe that Julius Caesar…

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