Book Review: Forged – Bart D. Ehrman

Title: Forged: Writing in the Name of God – Why The Bible’s Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are
Author: Bart D. Ehrman
ISBN: 9780062012616
Pages: 320
Release Date: March 22, 2011
Publisher: HarperOne
Genre: Non-Fiction, History, Audio
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Summary:

Bart D. Ehrman tackles the controversial issue of the authorship of the Bible and discusses the prevalence of forgery in the early Christian church. 

Review:

Though I am not a Christian, I went to Catholic school from elementary through high school, so I have a secular fascination with the Catholic Church.  I also am really interested in Bart D. Ehrman.  A former born-again Christian who attended Moody Bible Institute, he became disillusioned with his newfound faith when he saw the discrepancies within the Bible.  Since then, he has become one of the leading biblical scholars in the country and has written multiple books on the subject.  While I’ve only read one, Misquoting Jesus, I think they all sound fascinating, and thus was eager to pick up Forged.

Ehrman tackles the difficult question of forgery in the ancient world with grace.  He demonstrates that forgery was not accepted in the ancient world, though some scholars claim otherwise.  He repeatedly makes the point that various ancient figures, including Galen of Pergamon, found forgeries unacceptable.  He then discusses the tactics of forgers, the tools they used in order to make their forged documents more believable.  Whether you are interested in the Bible or not, this section of the book is fascinating for anyone interested in historical documents.

The narrative then turns to the most interesting part of the book for me, tackling the forgeries within the Bible.  While I knew many of the books of the Bible (including the four gospels) were not written by their attributed authors, I was shocked at how much of the Bible could be considered a forgery.  Ehrman provides compelling evidence for his claims, and also provides context for these forgeries.  The glimpse provided into the politics of the early church was simply fascinating.  Those fighting for the direction of the early Christian church used forgeries to underline their messages.

I listened to Forged on audio, and it is narrated by Walter Dixon and runs almost 10 hours.  Dixon is a capable, confident narrator, and keeps the narrative from becoming dry with his tone.  This was a great choice for audio, as I think it may have dragged a bit in print.

While I found Forged to be an incredibly interesting read, it is, of course, not for everyone.  If you find just this review offensive to your religious beliefs, of course I do not recommend the book.  But if you are looking to broaden your worldview and understand more about one of the most important books in the history of the world, I highly recommend Forged.

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Comments

  1. This sounds really interesting!

  2. This sounds really interesting!

  3. Very controversial! I am a devout Christian but would be interested in what this guy has to say. I very rarely would take offense at someone with a big idea, as long as he isn’t disrespectful.

  4. Very controversial! I am a devout Christian but would be interested in what this guy has to say. I very rarely would take offense at someone with a big idea, as long as he isn’t disrespectful.

  5. How interesting! I wasn’t aware that the gospel writers weren’t who we thought they were, in RS I remember we looked into the lives of them. What you’ve said has turned the information I remember on it’s head, but I’m glad you’ve written it here! One to put on the list.

  6. How interesting! I wasn’t aware that the gospel writers weren’t who we thought they were, in RS I remember we looked into the lives of them. What you’ve said has turned the information I remember on it’s head, but I’m glad you’ve written it here! One to put on the list.

  7. We’ve read quite a few Bart Ehrman books and my husband really likes him – I prefer, oddly I suppose, a more academic approach. I took a few classes on biblical history at a seminary as part of a college consortium, and found that biblical scholars even in very religious environments do not dispute all the discrepancies and different authors and all that; they don’t think it should be a reason to doubt the essence of the faith.

  8. We’ve read quite a few Bart Ehrman books and my husband really likes him – I prefer, oddly I suppose, a more academic approach. I took a few classes on biblical history at a seminary as part of a college consortium, and found that biblical scholars even in very religious environments do not dispute all the discrepancies and different authors and all that; they don’t think it should be a reason to doubt the essence of the faith.

  9. Like Sandy, I am a devout Christian, but I’d like to think that I am not too elitist or condescending to admit that there may be some merit to what this author has to say. That’s not saying that I would buy into it, only that I would be interested in reading his opinions and thoughts to better form my own.

    When I read the title of this book, for some reason it struck me as something that would be right up your alley. I know you like books about art, and in some strange way, this book sort of feels similar to those books to me.

  10. Like Sandy, I am a devout Christian, but I’d like to think that I am not too elitist or condescending to admit that there may be some merit to what this author has to say. That’s not saying that I would buy into it, only that I would be interested in reading his opinions and thoughts to better form my own.

    When I read the title of this book, for some reason it struck me as something that would be right up your alley. I know you like books about art, and in some strange way, this book sort of feels similar to those books to me.

  11. I really enjoy Ehrman’s books as well. I will have to add this to my list of his that I need to get.

  12. I really enjoy Ehrman’s books as well. I will have to add this to my list of his that I need to get.

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