Half the New Testament FORGED?!

Yes, that’s right. Another ‘Forgery Fable’ as I like to call them has been published in the news.

This time, a Biblical ‘Scholar’ has stated that he would like to be the “…first scholar to use the ‘f’ word’ when talking about the New Testament. By that, he means ‘forgery’ 😉

It was reported in CNN news (an American news site) that Bart D. Ehrman, a renowned biblical scholar, has made the conteroversial claim that half the books in the New Testament were forged, in his wonderfully titled book that’s recently been published called…. wait for it… “Forged.

He says:

There were a lot of people in the ancient world who thought that lying could serve a greater good,” says Ehrman, an expert on ancient biblical manuscripts.

In “Forged,” Ehrman makes a few striking and provoking accusations;

  1. At least 11 of the 27 New Testament books are forgeries.
  2. The New Testament books attributed to Jesus’ disciples could not have been written by them because they were illiterate.
  3. Many of the New Testament’s forgeries were manufactured by early Christian leaders trying to settle theological feuds.

The book and the author are causing a lot of backlash. It’s no wonder. Because he seems like a complete idiot.

Now, I don’t claim to have all the answers to authorship of the different books in the New Testament. But one thing I am told as a learning theologian is that we mustn’t take the context of the Biblical day and plunge it straight into the 21st Century without examining the socio-political context. Unfortunately, this scholar seems to ignored this vital rule and done the very thing that he isn’t meant to do!

Some books in the New Testament do ascribe themselves to certain authors (such as Paul, John, Peter etc). Some scholars have mounted evidence to support the claim that they weren’t written by the supposed authors (e.g 2 Peter not written by Peter) but rather that someone wrote in the name of Peter.

This is not forgery. Let me explain: in Ancient times, it was perfectly acceptable to write in the name of a hero/influential person to bring back their teachings in a modern era or generation. At this time, no one would have felt tricked or deceived in reading letters that were supposedly were from someone like Peter, but in fact were from someone else.

Having said this, there is considerable evidence mounted to support genuine claims of authorship, i.e that Peter wrote the Petrine epistles, Paul wrote his epistles etc. I haven’t got time to go into all this, but if you want to know, then you can leave comments below 😉 So I feel that the news has given a biased take on the scholarly study of the New Testament for one. This guys opinion is just one of many on the whole thing. But let me tell you, I don’t think much of his opinion.

To say that the New Testament was ‘forged’ isn’t very intellectual or scholarly at all, considering the other views and the other considerable defence evidence against such absurdities.

There is also the point to be made that some New Testament epistles don’t make any claim of authorship, and it is merely tradition that has ascribed the names of authors to various books.

So, as you can see, the story isn’t as straight forward as Mr. Ehrman likes to make out. I’m sure his book will fly off the shelves for eager atheists and skeptics to use as a repellent for Christianity, though I would sincerely implore you to look at all the viewpoints. Though for those of you on a witch hunt, any other view point will hardly make a difference, as you will have already decided on which viewpoint you want to take on board and believe.

The word ‘forgery’ has no place in New Testament study. And I know that because today I have an exam on New Testament Epistles! And before any of you ask, I’m being taught in a secular university where there are various opinions. I’m not in theological college or seminary with narrow mindedness. So I do believe that I’ve been educated in an unbiased way.

What do you think about the whole thing? Fire away…

Dean Roberts

Dean is a Minister in the Anglican Church. Currently he is Curate in the parishes of Bedwas, Machen, Michaelston-y-Fedw and Rudry in South Wales. He was born and bred in Wales, is married to Megan, and has two dogs called Taliesin and Melyn, and two cats named Sinsir and Hâf. He graduated from Cardiff University with a BA Hons. in Theology & Religious Studies, and has studied for an MA in Theology, Ministry & Mission at Trinity College Bristol. He also holds a Cert.RSCM from the Royal School of Church Music. He loves playing music, walking, reading, blogging and horse riding as well as going to the cinema and theatre. Read More @ http://deanroberts.net/about

  • Amy

    I believe it’s possible, although it’s like everything. We have no proof of anything really, you cannot say with 100% certanity that they are not forged and vice versa. Even if they are not forged, whose to say everything in there is completely honest? When is anyone completely honest in telling any story? We forget details, we make mistakes, we change things to make them sound better etc. I think you have to be careful before you put all your belief with no doubt into anything.