Biblical scholar Bart Ehrman has delivered an intensely informative investigation into the history of the transmission and transcription of the Bible in Misquoting Jesus. Using textual criticism, Ehrman shows that the 'word of God' isn't even known since we have no original documents of the writings that make up the New Testament. We don't even have copies of the copies of the copies... Scribes who copied the words through the ages may well have had a profound impact on the Bibles we read today, and those modern-day versions, says Ehrman, are almost certainly (and significantly) different from the documents written by the authors of the New Testament books.
By examining the various manuscripts that do exist, Ehrman explores the differences, tracing commonalities and divergences, drawing some conclusions as to what the 'original' text might read like, and making it clear that in many cases, we simply can't know based on our current evidence. Some of our best versions of the New Testament texts were created hundreds, in some cases many hundreds, of years after the authors originally wrote them. It is very, very difficult to know exactly what was in those long-lost original scriptures.
A history of various books of the Bible (and the later full cannon itself) is explored throughout, giving the reader a very scholarly lesson in the subject. While Ehrman's writing shows his own amazing intellect and talent for pursuing difficult investigations, the writing is engaging and approachable to anyone interested in this subject.
Not only were there thousands of cases of typos and other unintentional transcription errors, later in the book Ehrman looks at specific passages that were intentionally changed to support some views of Christianity over others. During the early periods, there were numerous cases where text appears to have been changed to match a specific interpretation, such as passages which allowed alternative visions of the nature of Jesus and the Christ.
This book solidifies the idea that the Bible is indeed the work of human hands, some of which had ulterior motives for ensuring that the documents read a specific way. Thoroughly enjoying and enlightening, this book is very highly recommended to anyone interested in biblical scholarship. Five stars.
(posted on my blog: davenichols.net