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Jesus Interrupted 4: Who Wrote the Bible?

05/10/2011

Ehrman points out some difficulties in ascribing the traditional authors to books like the four gospels. He also highlights the forgeries, or pseudoepigraphically written works of authors like Paul. Many of the letters ascribed to him have totally different theologies, and belief systems. This is scholarship that has existed for decades.

Kindle Notes:

The only way to be justified is by having faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus. In Galatians 2:15, Paul says, “We have come to believe in Christ Jesus, so that we might be justified by faith in Christ, and not by doing the works of the law, because no one will be justified by the works of the law” (1462).

And so we have two contrasting portrayals of Paul’s view of the pagans and their worship of idols. Do they worship idols out of ignorance? The “Paul” of Acts says yes, Paul in his own writings says no. Does God overlook what they’ve done? Acts says yes, Paul says no. Are they responsible for their idolatrous activities? Acts says no, Paul says yes. Does God inflict his wrathful judgment on them in the present as a result? Acts says no, Paul says yes (1584).

It appears that the Paul of Acts is not the same as the real Paul, at least when it comes to this very fundamental issue of the divine reaction to pagan idolatry (1593).

With John it is even more clear. At the end of the Gospel the author says of the “Beloved Disciple”: “This is the disciple who is testifying to these things and has written them, and we know that his testimony is true” (John 21:24). Note how the author differentiates between his source of information, “the disciple who testifies,” and himself: “we know that his testimony is true” (1675).

Most important are the theological ideas, views, and perspectives of the book. Are they the same in this book as in the author’s other writings, or at least roughly similar? Or are they strikingly different? The reason we are better equipped than the ancients to make judgments of this sort now is that we are better equipped! Ancient critics who attempted to detect forgeries obviously didn’t have data banks, data retrieval systems, and computers to crunch out detailed evaluations of vocabulary and style. They had to rely a lot on common sense and intuition. We have that, plus lots of data (1967).

Who wrote the Bible? Of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament, only eight almost certainly were written by the authors to whom they are traditionally ascribed: the seven undisputed letters of Paul and the Revelation of John, which could be labeled homonymous, since it does not claim to be written by any particular John; this was recognized even by some writers of the early church (2177).

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