This is old, but new to me. I came across this from reading a “cannibalized” version in another format. This paper was originally published in the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 49 (2006): 327-49. The author is Daniel B. Wallace, Ph.D. If one has studied the Greek language in a seminary or a university here in the states, since two-thirds of such schools use his text-book there is a very good chance one learned their Greek with his help.
This paper is old and addresses Bart Ehrman’s book “Misquoting Jesus,” about which much ink has (or pixels manipulated) already been spilled. I post it here simply because Ehrman is still considered by many to have raised serious questions about the Bible, and thus the Christian faith. Really? There is no doubt he is a good textual critic/scholar, it is simply that even though he’s jumped from the “conservative” side to the “liberal” side, the black-and-white, narrow, and dogmatic sensibility still guides his understanding, so at the end of the day all we get is a liberal fundamentalist now. Ehrman is a former “conservative” fundamentalist who finally learned in graduate school what countless New Testament/Greek scholars in evangelical, mainline, and secular institutions have known all along: That we only have copies of the original manuscripts of what makes up the Bible and there are textual variants in those copies. To which, one should only ask: So what? It shook his faith only because he had a false view of the Bible to begin with. What is new here? Unless one holds to some sort of dictation theory, wherein God told certain people exactly what word and letter to write, there is nothing Ehrman has ever pointed out that should shake any Christian’s faith. Besides, what does Ehrman think Christians did before the Bible was even put together in the form we have now? Even though letters would circulate (copies), the great majority of Christians did not walk around with “Bibles” under their arms for centuries. Somehow they still managed to birth a completely new world—western civilization as we know it historically anyway.
So, the paper by Wallace is definitely worth reading and something to keep in mind whenever anyone trots Ehrman out as the last word on the New Testament as many still do.
Here is how Wallace finishes his paper:
In sum, “Misquoting Jesus” does not disappoint on the provocative scale. But it comes up short on genuine substance about Ehrman’s primary contention…unfortunately, the average layperson will leave “Misquoting Jesus” with far greater doubts about the wording and teachings of the NT than any textual critic would ever entertain…the irony is that “Misquoting Jesus” is supposed to be all about reason and evidence, but it has been creating almost as much panic and alarm as “The Da Vinci Code.” Is that really the pedagogical effect Ehrman was seeking? I have to assume that he knew what kind of a reaction he would get from this book, for he does not change the impression at all in his interviews. Being provocative, even at the risk of being misunderstood, seems to be more important to him than being honest even at the risk of being boring. But a good teacher does not create Chicken Littles.
And frankly, that is all Ehrman has really accomplished.