The Truth Worth Dying For

The Truth Worth Dying For is the Truth Worth Lying For. –  Review of “Forged” by Bart D. Ehrman published 2011.

It has been said, “Everyone knows that good men do good and bad men do bad but for good men to do bad it takes religion.”

“Forged” is Bart D. Ehrman’s most recent publication and lifts the lid right off, “Why the Bible’s Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are”. This is a book in which he presents comprehensive research of the ‘New Testament Era.”

Ehrman’s research gives us a picture of a divided hostile early church with multiple factions and fantastic beliefs, all claiming to be the original authentic followers of Jesus.  In the first two hundred years after Jesus, the early church’s beliefs were as diverse as those in Christendom today.  What became the New Testament reflects this dichotomy.  Religious people today will tell you the Bible teaches Hell fire, other say it teaches there is no hell, while others see in its pages only a doctrine of universal love.  Those making these claims are all correct, the New Testament does teach each position.

Ehrman’s research concludes that very few of the New Testament authors were who the New Testament books claim they were. The point is backed up with some impressive research that they were forgeries. Then he startles his readers by presenting evidence both of the forgery and counter rebuffle to deceive the reader of the forger’s identity.  An example of such a counter claim to forgery is in 11 Thessalonians, “

“Forgery as well as plagiarism is throughout the New Testament.  “Like forgery, plagiarism is deceptive, because it intends to lead readers astray. ….Forgers write their own words and claim they are the words of another, plagiarists take the words of another and claim they are their own” Page 247 Ehrman’s research on antiquity including the New Testament era is strong for his claim that forgery and plagiarism was as discredited and viewed as a criminal act as it is today.

“In sum, there were numerous ways to lie in and through literature in antiquity, and some Christians took advantage of the full panoply in their effort to promote their view of the faith. It may seem odd to modern readers, or even counterintuitive, that a religion that built its reputation on possessing the truth had members who attempted to disseminate their understanding of the truth through deceptive means. But it is precisely what happened. The use of deception to promote the truth may well be considered one of the most unsettling ironies of the early Church.” Page  250

“This does not mean, as is now being claimed with alarming regularity, that Jesus never existed.  He certainly existed, as virtually every competent scholar of antiquity, Christian or non-Christian, agrees, based on clear and certain evidence.” Page 251

Jesus claimed truth needed no authority but was its own authority or self evident.  Jesus true sayings, can be identified apart from research. They have a certain spirit about them, a self evident ring of truth, a spirit of total abandonment,  exaggerated generosity, an almost fanatical  letting go of material things and even life itself. Jesus also used Aphorisms which are pithy sayings conveying what might be a truth in one situation but in another situation there is an equal and opposite aphorism that might apply.  Then there are Jesus parables or stories which cannot be used for doctrine.

It is a dangerous thing to take an aphorism and turn it into a law as is often done by religious folks. Scholars have gone to great lengths to isolate the true sayings of Jesus which is a helpful exercise.  However there is a far simpler way to know what Jesus said.  Jesus sayings have a self evident ring of truth, a spirit of almost fanatical, generous, abandonment, a discounting of the material world and even life itself.

Well worth reading this book by Bart D. Ehrman is reads like a detective novel.