Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why

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Misquoting Jesus

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781428105805
  • Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC
  • Publication date: 9/6/2006

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 73 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 73 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 19, 2009

    Misquoting Jesus Was Educational But.....

    I picked up a copy of this book in the bookstore of UC Berkeley. I was very interested in finding out exactly where this would go. I knew it dealt with the rewritings of the Bible over the years, and I wanted to know the truth as best Mr. Ehrman could provide.
    At first, I found the autobiography of his youth very interesting. As the book progressed however, it became a bit clinical and textbookish, although the information was very interesting. Finally, when I reached the end and Mr. Ehrman made his announcement of how his faith had been severely compromised through the knowledge he now had in regards to the rewritings of the Bible over the years in less than divine ways, I stepped back. I have always known that the Bible has been rewritten many times. Just look at all the different editions, sometimes they don't even say the same thing. Not to mention all the translations from Latin and Greek don't always even carry the same stories. I have known that for most of my life. No, the Bible is not perfect and has been tampered with many times. But, my faith in God and the words of Jesus were not rocked one bit after this book. My faith has never been based on the Bible. The Bible is a book. Faith transcends much deeper. So, bottom line. I appreciate the very helpful information Mr. Ehrman shared, but I think the book was confused a bit as to whether it was a textbook of information or a testament of Mr. Ehrman's life as he found his faith and then lost it based on his knowledge of the rewriting of the Bible. I believe this book could have been more effective if he had focused his energies on one or the other. Still, this book demonstrates outstanding research, and some very interesting history. Mr. Ehrman's conclusion was more of a mystery to me than anything else, as the book was never really presented as a test of his faith, but more like a college textbook.

    17 out of 21 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2007

    Don't Let the Angry or Holier Than Thou Reviews Fool You

    Despite some people's anger based perception in some reviews, Bart D. Ehrman is the leading biblical scholar of our time. Mr. Ehrman's thoroughness and thoughtfulness are bright rays of intellectual and scriptural light piercing the darkness surrounding biblical matters. Here's the bottom line - If your concept about what the bible is isn't enlightened by Ehrman's excellent scholarship, no matter what Pastor you have, you do not fully understand what you are reading in the bible. People would and should be horrified to know that their worship of the bible is based on unsupportable theological positions, because of how the bible was written and passed down. In very readable, clear terms Ehrman demystifies the process the bible went through to become what it is today. Ehrman has done the world a great service with this book and all his others as well. The paperback version also has a wonderful addendum with an interview with the author.

    14 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 28, 2008

    Excellent scholar...with an agenda

    Bart Ehrman is an excellent scholar and offers his own unique perspectives on New Testament authorship and accuracy, as well as, theological and historical implications. As a theological student, I enjoy reading his books, even though I do not subscribe to his interpretation of historical and textual data. As with all scholars, regardless of repute, he brings his own biases which influence his argument and the emphases he chooses to make. To his credit, he does not attempt to disguise his agenda, but openly discloses it in his introduction. I have read countless other books on this subject, and find that this particular book lacks balance. In other words, the biases he mentions in his introduction are evident enough in his treatment of the facts 'through the over-emphasis of some points and the under-emphasis of others' that his biases negatively impact the scholastic value of the book. If you are looking for a better balanced discussion and more scholarly work, I recommend 'The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration' by the same author and also co-author, Bruce Metzger. For a more orthodox perspective, I recommend 'The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?' by F.F. Bruce. For a counter-argument to Ehrman's interpretation, I recommend Ben Witherington's 'What Have They Done with Jesus: Beyond Strange Theories and Bad History-Why We Can Trust the Bible' (another great scholar with an agenda). If you are really interested in obtaining a balanced perspective, I recommend you consider reading each of these works before deciding how best to interpret the data.

    11 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 19, 2007

    A must read

    Ehrman does a wonderful job in pointing out the numerous flaws in the New Testament. He doesn't go into a long rant about why conservative Christians refute these glaring errors. He just explains them to allow for the reader to make their own conscious decisions. The book is very easy to follow, which means its not a monotonous history lesson like some of his other books. His autobiography at the beginning may or may not be important to read in regards to the book's subject at hand, but this book will enable you to look at the New Testament in a whole different light. The title is somewhat of a misnomer, because the majority of 'errors' he speaks of from the New Testament don't really focus on the sayings of Jesus. This is a great book for anyone who doesn't carry the dubious presupposition that the bible is inerrant. Carrying that belief when reading this book will surely cause you to miss the whole point, which is to exploit errors, as innocent as they may be, in the New Testament. I highly recommend this book for anyone who might question the accuracy of a series of ancient biblical texts with questionable authorship and meaning.

    9 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 1, 2006

    Not Ehrman's Best

    Ehrman is a respected scholar with a well-earned reputation in the field, but this book does not live up to the standards of his others. His conclusions are speculative rather than well-supported. The very problem with the textual history of the NT works against him -- we simply do not have the autograph (original) texts to establish what was modified and when. Unfortunately for Ehrman's thesis, we do have extra-canonical sources which corroborate the essential content of the texts quite well on a number of points which he calls into question, including the nature of Christ's divinity, early trinitarianism, etc. Usually Ehrman goes out of his way to examine the full context of the texts he studies, but not in this work. A reasonable cross referencing of first and second-century patristic writing, as well as a solid understanding of Second Temple Jewish texts is enough to raise real questions about how much time Ehrman put into this one. It reads far too much like a memoir at points to be taken seriously. That being said, the first chapters contain a solid introduction to textual criticism for the uninitiated. I enjoy Ehrman's other works and recommend them to my university students. I would hate to think that he is selling-out to the fad of flashy books that claim 'this will change everything you think you know.' The truth is that very little changes in Early Christian History -- precisely because we are so limited in our primary sources.

    9 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 18, 2010

    Fascinating and interesting read of book that is somehow controversial, but shouldn't be

    I went into this book unfamiliar with Biblical textual criticism and with a vague idea of how the New Testament was created. I haven't read the Bible at any length since I stopped attending church after graduating from high school. What I find most fascinating is that Ehrman isn't telling anyone anything they shouldn't already know, that is, that the New Testament is compromised of manuscripts that are copies of copies of copies, and of course have been changed (either accidentally or intentionally) by scribes making the copies. However, a lot of people are outraged by the book and what Ehrman writes in the book. I don't find any of it to be controversial. He isn't saying that Christianity is a sham, or that Jesus is a fictional person. Ehrman writes that although there are thousands of mistakes and mistranslations, most of them are inconsequential to the reading to the text. Even the changes that are important to how the text is read depend on how you want to interpret the text. If you find your faith to be more of a spiritual, rather than literal Bible-based faith, then you shouldn't be upset by Ehrman's book. I found this book intriguing and it basically confirmed by belief in atheism. The Bible is merely a collection of stories and memories of people who didn't even know Jesus, but wrote stories of what they heard about him. I don't think that is a strong basis for a religion. If I were to worship a god on the basis of a book, I would rather pick Gandalf from Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. At least I have an accurate copy of the original manuscript.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 8, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Misquoting Jesus

    Misquoting Jesus is a fascinating look at the little known details of how the various stories of Jesus became part of the modern Christian scripture. It's a book on what biblical scholars refer to as "textual criticism", but written for the layman. It's one thing to know the scriptures, it's another thing to know how they came into existence. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who's looking to deepen their knowledge of the Christian scriptures.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2007

    One of many MUST READs!!

    Great book, well researched, right to the point! Right on the nose! Right on the money! I can see where the Bible Alone, non-NRSV, types that turn the Bible into an idol have trouble with this book. I recommend they meditate on Hebrews 13:17, John 5:39, 1 Tim 3:15-16.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2007

    Exellent source

    A credible well researched book. Offers a great understanding of how the Bible was written and interpreting it.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2012

    Test your faith and read this book!

    This was the first Ehrman book I ever read. Many faithful Christians read this book then went crying home to their mamas screaming "THE BIBLE IS FAKE!!!!" Calm down, breathe and step away from the ledge man. Ehrman merely writes in laymens terms what New Testament text critics both believers and nonbelievers already knew: there were variances between different NT manuscripts. The essential meanings and doctrines remained the same but scribes changed spelling errors or forrected an earlier scribes mistake in the margins. It's quite a fascinating tale. The problem arises when Ehrman triesbto lead a discussion that essentially states that if scribes fixed errors, then the Bible is made up since God doesn't make spelling errors in the first place. This argument can easily be refuted but the bottom line is that he writes strongest when he doesn't try to pass assumption and opinion as fact. He lost his faith and thinksbyou should losebyours over spelling errors. Once you realize and do a little search into actually HOW errors were corrected and that the so called thousands of errors are actually spelling error (e.g. writing "pin" when you meant "pen") you laugh at Ehrman and realize there's perhaps a story that he hasn't told. Ther's gotta be a better reason than this for him to renounce his faith? This is a great read; don't be afraid of it.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2010

    Superb

    A great book! Tells it like it is! This book would be of interest to all people with an interest in Christianity. Some will "take issue" with the presentation, but I think even they will be enlightened by reading the book.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 5, 2006

    Look to actual scholarly research first ...

    Little to say about the merits of this book. This author quotes out of context and ignores the agreements between the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke,and John. Inspection and analysis of the actual NT Greek eliminates all credibility his thesis orginally had. The analysis of the non-canoncial books is decent but skewed to support his claim. The majority of his claims are refuted by widely respected and referenced publications, i.e. Biblical Archaeology Review. His analysis does not address the claim that the non-canonical books were written centuries after the four canonical Gospels. Read Perkins' bibliography for first-rate analysis of primary sources. There are several copies of the NT manuscripts with little discrepancies between them. He uses the 'theological spin' he claims is present to prevent any objective analysis from taking place. He simply dismisses the multitude of scholarly journals and books that contradict him as 'biased' without discussing the facts in these.

    4 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 22, 2006

    Ehrman Is Unreliable, Not the Bible

    This book attempts to mislead the casual reader into thinking that the New Testament is unreliable. A few examples of the many misrepresentations follow. First, Ehrman says John 1:1-18 may not be original, because some of its important vocabulary is not repeated in the rest of the gospel (p. 61). However, only five of the 36 important words are not repeated. Ehrman conveniently ignores the 31 important words that are repeated, and overwhelmingly support John 1:1-18 as authentic. Second, he claims that Mark 1:41 should be translated Jesus ¿became angry,¿ rather than ¿felt compassion¿ (p. 133), basing this conclusion on only four of the thousands of manuscripts available. He then tries to build a case for Mark¿s gospel portraying an angry Jesus overall, rather than a compassionate Jesus. However, Mark 6:34 and 8:2 contradict his assertion, describing Jesus as having compassion in feeding the multitudes. Ehrman conveniently buries these references in the back of the book! (See p. 225.) Third, he claims the book of Acts shows that Luke views Jesus¿ death as not including atonement for sins. Rather he claims: ¿Jesus¿s death for Luke. . .drives people to repentance, and it is this repentance that brings salvation (p. 167).¿ Ehrman ignores contrary evidence, however, in Acts 4:12, 5:31, 10:43, and 13:39, which unequivocally confirm Jesus¿ atoning death as the means to forgiveness and redemption. Fourth, he has exaggerated the situation with manuscript discrepancies and alterations into a lie, since the vast majority of these issues have long been resolved without significant questions regarding scriptural doctrine or reliability. Ehrman proclaims this book to be the result of a search for truth (pp. 8-15). Actually, his significant points are generally untrue and the points where he may be right are not significant.

    4 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2006

    confirmation

    Anyone who has already done research can find much confirmation here. Only the most naive can think that a text that has been tampered with as much as the books of the Bible can arrive unscathed. Everyone knows it was men who wrote it, men who selected and excluded the books, and men who transcribed it. That anyone believes it is ultimately the word of God just goes to prove the greatest adage is 'people believe what they want to believe.' No doubt, the weak in faith will feel threatened.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2006

    The first book of this type for the lay person

    Misquoting Jesus attempts to bring into lay terms a very complex subject that in certain circles can raise allegations of heresy. As other reviewers have mentioned, he sticks to the routine books of the traditional bible, leaving out the contextual arguments of the books that have been excluded from the latin vulgate, greek orthodox, and King James versions of the text. Overall the book is well written and can serve as an entry level text for any would be fundamentalist who choose to take the modern biblical text at there literal meaning and in the process fail to see the trancendant nature of all religions.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 19, 2005

    Excellent survey of surviving New Testament manuscripts

    This is a very interesting and straightforward discussion of surviving manuscripts for what we know as the 'New Testament' of the Bible. I think it would provide an excellent introduction for anyone who wants to know how Bible scholars practice textual criticism. I also appreciated the author's effort to relate manuscript variations and revisions to the heresies circulating in the early Christian era.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2011

    Recommended

    All of Bart Ehrman's books are good reads IMHO. I hope he continues to write for a long time!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 20, 2010

    Something to think about

    Well written and organized for the average and above average literate person. I can hear Jerry Falwell and the rest of the irrationals getting their knickers in a knot.
    R T J

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 14, 2012

    Answered many Questions

    Although this book maybe reviled by many fundamentalist evangelicals and quite a few Pietists, this book is well thought out presented cogently. Few authors are brave enough to discuss the possible concerns about the history of the New Testamnet and the early Christian church. I've read some of his earlier works and have followed him through his courses from the Teaching Company; I've never been disappointed. If you're someone who can think openly about the possibilities of the gospels being distilled, diluted, even mistranslated and perhaps oral traditions and transcriber's embellishments are probable, you'll be ok. If you are afraid of any other version of the Bible besides the KJV, you'll run screaming heretical rants. But please ponder which makes more sense: Did John the Baptist eat honey and locusts or honey and pancakes?

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2006

    Ehrman should not be taken at his word - research yourself

    The title is a misrepresentation of what the book is about. The first 4 chapters are an informative look at textual criticism of the NT. The last 3 chapters are a summary of Ehrman's agnostic positions as outlined in his earlier work 'Orthodox Corruption of Scripture'. What is troubling is that Ehrman simply regurgitates his previous arguments without any attempt to address the scholarly criticisms of his peers concerning this first work. Another troubling issue is how Ehrman claims that a misinterpretation proves some kind of cover up... but then if you look in one of the other gospels, there is the exact wording in a parallel text. For example, Ehrman points to Matt 24:36, saying that the translation does not include the ¿even the Son of God himself does not know when the end will come¿ and tries to say that it is a cover-up that this was excluded and that it proves Jesus was not a God. I will leave to you whether or not it is a leap to question the divinity of Jesus based on that one statement. As to the cover-up, see Mark 13:32 ¿ ¿But as for that day or hour no one knows it¿neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son¿except the Father.¿ The fact that Ehrman makes no mention of this OBVIOUS parallel scripture passage is very telling concerning his motives and the extent at which the lay reader should trust his judgment. If you do read this book, I encourage you to be skeptical of his positions and research things yourself... use an online Bible to search for parallel texts for example. Also, search the internet for reviews critical of his work so that you can hear the other side of the argument and come to your own conclusion.

    2 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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