Forgery and Counterforgery: The Use of Literary Deceit in Early Christian Polemics

Forgery and Counterforgery: The Use of Literary Deceit in Early Christian Polemics

by Bart D. Ehrman

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Overview

"Arguably the most distinctive feature of the early Christian literature," writes Bart Ehrman, "is the degree to which it was forged." The Homilies and Recognitions of Clement; Paul's letters to and from Seneca; Gospels by Peter, Thomas, and Philip; Jesus' correspondence with Abgar, letters by Peter and Paul in the New Testament—all forgeries. To cite just a few examples.

Forgery and Counterforgery is the first comprehensive study of early Christian pseudepigrapha ever produced in English. In it, Ehrman argues that ancient critics—pagan, Jewish, and Christian—understood false authorial claims to be a form of literary deceit, and thus forgeries. Ehrman considers the extent of the phenomenon, the "intention" and motivations of ancient Greek, Roman, and Jewish forgers, and reactions to their work once detected. He also assesses the criteria ancient critics applied to expose forgeries and the techniques forgers used to avoid detection. With the wider practices of the ancient world as backdrop, Ehrman then focuses on early Christian polemics, as various Christian authors forged documents in order to lend their ideas a veneer of authority in literary battles waged with pagans, Jews, and, most importantly, with one another in internecine disputes over doctrine and practice. In some instances a forger directed his work against views found in another forgery, creating thereby a "counter-forgery." Ehrman's evaluation of polemical forgeries starts with those of the New Testament (nearly half of whose books make a false authorial claim) up through the Pseudo-Ignatian epistles and the Apostolic Constitutions at the end of the fourth century.

Shining light on an important but overlooked feature of the early Christian world, Forgery and Counterforgery explores the possible motivations of the deceivers who produced these writings, situating their practice within ancient Christian discourses on lying and deceit.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780199928033
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 12/14/2012
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 624
Sales rank: 846,939
Product dimensions: 6.70(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.90(d)

About the Author

Bart D. Ehrman is the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Widely recognized as one of the world's leading authorities on the New Testament and early Christianity, he has lectured at major universities throughout North America and has been featured on CNN, BBC, the History Channel, National Geographic, the Discovery Channel, A&E, major PBS stations, and the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. He is the author of the New York Times best-selling book Misquoting Jesus.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments

Chapter One: Introduction

PART ONE: FORGERY IN THE GRECO-ROMAN WORLD

Chapter Two: Forgers, Critics, and Deceived Deceivers
Chapter Three: Terms and Taxonomies
Chapter Four: Forgery in Antiquity: Aspects of the Broader Phenomenon
Chapter Five: Forgery in Antiquity: Motives, Techniques, Intentions, Justifications, and Criteria of Detection

PART TWO: FORGERY IN EARLY CHRISTIAN POLEMICS

Chapter Six: Introduction to Forgery and Counter-forgery in Early Christian Polemics
Chapter Seven: Early Pauline Forgeries Dealing with Eschatology
Chapter Eight: Later Forgeries Dealing with Eschatology
Chapter Nine: Forgeries in Support of Paul and His Authority
Chapter Ten: Forgeries in Opposition to Paul and His Message
Chapter Eleven: Anti-Jewish Forgeries
Chapter Twelve: Forgeries involving Church Organization and Leadership
Chapter Thirteen: Forgeries involving Debates over the Flesh
Chapter Fourteen: Forgeries Arising from Later Theological Controversies
Chapter Fifteen: Apologetic Forgeries
Chapter Sixteen: Lies and Deception In the Cause of Truth

Bibliography

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