Synopses & Reviews
“Personal and accessible . . . The Rise and Fall of the Bible
is Beals attempt to shatter this popular understanding of the Bible as a combination of divine instruction manual and self-help book.”—Adam Kirsch, Tablet
In this revelatory exploration, a noted religion scholar and former evangelical Christian takes us back to early Christianity to ask how a box of handwritten scrolls became the Bible, and forward to see how the multibillion-dollar business that has brought us Biblezines and manga Bibles is selling down the Bibles sacred capital. Among his surprising insights:
*Christianity thrived for centuries without any Bible. Early congregations used collections of scrolls; there was no official canon of scriptures and no book existed that was big enough to hold them.
*The idea of the Bible as the literal Word of God is only about a century old.
*There is no “original” Bible behind the thousands of Bibles on the market today. The further back we go in the Bibles history, the more versions we find.
In The Rise and Fall of the Bible Beal offers a chance to rediscover a Bible, and a faith, that is truer to its own history—not a book of answers but a library of questions.
“Part autobiography, part social scientific research, part shrewd discernment, and part theological interpretation—Tim Beal has written a zinger of a book about the cultural history of the Bible. This welcome and important book will cause a pause before we make glib claims for ‘the Word of the Lord.” —Walter Brueggemann
“Beal . . . makes a compelling case against the idea of a fully consistent and unerring book, positing instead a very human volume with all the twists and foibles of the human experience, truly reflecting that human experience. He presents a convincing case for a radical rereading of the text, an honest appreciation of this sacred book. An engrossing and excellent work, highly recommended.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review
"In the absence of any original manuscripts of the books of the New Testament, how can we be sure that we're getting the intended words and meaning? Ehrman, professor of religion at UNC-Chapel Hill, has devoted his life to the study of such questions and here offers an engaging and fascinating look at the way scholars try to answer them. Part memoir, part history and part critical study, he traces the development of the academic discipline called textual criticism, which uses external and internal evidence to evaluate and compare ancient manuscripts in order to find the best readings. Ehrman points out that scribes altered almost all of the manuscripts we now have. In the early days of the Christian movement, scribal error often arose simply from unintentional omissions of words or lines. As Christianity evolved into an official religion under Constantine, however, scribes often added material to existing manuscripts or altered them to provide scriptural support for Christian doctrine or to enforce specific views about women, Jews or pagans. Ehrman's absorbing story, fresh and lively prose and seasoned insights into the challenges of recreating the texts of the New Testament ensure that readers might never read the Gospels or Paul's letters the same way again." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Although he addresses a popular audience, [Ehrman] undercuts the very religious attitudes that have made the Bible a popular book. Still, this is a useful overview for biblical history collections." Booklist
"Offers a fascinating look into the field of textual criticism and evidence that Scriptures have been altered." Charleston Post & Courier
"Whichever side you sit on regarding Biblical inerrancy, this is a rewarding read." Dallas Morning News
"[An] accessible lay introduction to New Testament textual criticism....Recommended." Library Journal
"[A] fascinating account of New Testament textual criticism....For believer or atheist, I recommend Misquoting Jesus
to anyone with an interest in where this ancient anthology that has helped shape our culture came from." Doug Brown, Powells.com
(read the entire Powells.com review
The author of Lost Christianities reveals how ancient scribes erroneously or deliberately changed New Testament stories in the face of period cultural, theological, and political disputes, explaining how numerous Christian beliefs are based on altered texts. Reprint.
Now in paperback, this New York Times bestseller explores the mistakes and changes that ancient copyists made to the New Testament that greatly impacted the Bible used today.
For almost 1,500 years, the New Testament manuscripts were copied by hand and mistakes and intentional changes abound in the competing manuscript versions. Religious and biblical scholar Bart Ehrman makes the provocative case that many of our widely held beliefs concerning the divinity of Jesus, the Trinity, and the divine origins of the Bible itself are the results of both intentional and accidental alterations by scribes.
In this compelling and fascinating book, Ehrman shows where and why changes were made in our earliest surviving manuscripts, explaining for the first time how the many variations of our cherished biblical stories came to be, and why only certain versions of the stories qualify for publication in the Bibles we read today. Ehrman frames his account with personal reflections on how his study of the Greek manuscripts made him abandon his once ultraconservative views of the Bible.
The author of Lost Christianities reveals how ancient scribes erroneously or deliberately changed New Testament stories in the face of period cultural, theological, and political disputes, explaining how numerous Christian beliefs are based on altered texts.
A religious scholar and former evangelical Christian explores the history of the Bible, from the ancient Hebrew scrolls that Jesus read to the big business of Bible publishing today, debunking the myth of the Bible's infallibility and revealing a richer and more authentic way to read it.
About the Author
Bart D. Ehrman is one of the most renowned and controversial Bible scholars in the world today. A master explainer of Christian history, texts, and traditions, his work continues to drive debate among supporters and detractors alike. Ehrman is the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and is the author of more than twenty books, including the New York Times bestselling Misquoting Jesus; God's Problem; Jesus, Interrupted; and Forged. Ehrman has appeared on Dateline NBC, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, CNN, the History Channel, and top NPR programs, and he has been featured in Time, the New York Times, The New Yorker, The Washington Post, and more.
Table of Contents
Contents 1. The End of the Word as We Know It:
A Personal Introduction 1 Magic 8 Ball Bible 2 The Rise of a Cultural Icon 5 The Way of Salvation 12 So Long, Judas 18 The Course of This Book 21 My Utmost, Revisited 24 2. The Greatest Story Ever Sold 29 Sodom and Gomorrah Equals Love 30 Biblical Consumerism 32 Expectations of Biblical Proportions 36 By Whose Authority? 38 3. Biblical Values 41 Felt Needs 44 Values Added 48 Finding Your Niche 50 Necessary Supplements 54 If Thats What It Means, Why Doesnt It Say So? 58 Manga Bibles 64 A Different Cookie 68 4. Twilight of the Idol 70 The Evangelical Dilemma 70 Selling Out 72 Types Setting 78 Distress Crop 80 Behold Your God 83 5. What Would Jesus Read? 85 Jesus Sings 86 Christianity Before the Bible 96 No Original 102 No Canon 106 Early Christian Network Society 108 6. The Story of the Good Book 111 Remembering Whats Lost 111 Scrolling Down to the Book 113 Scattered Throughout the Whole World 117 After Gutenberg 120 Multiplying the Leaves 129 Lost in Translations 140 Not a Rock but a River 143 7. Library of Questions 146 Mark Twains Drugstore 155 Letting Suffering Speak 160 Trials of God 163 Weak Rope Theory 168 Is the Bible a Failure? 171 Faith in Ambiguity 173 Nothing but a Burning Light 176 The Bible by the Side of the Road 178 8. And I Feel Fine 180 Cracking the Binding 184 Loose Canon 187 Back to the Future 189 Living Conversations 191 Seeds to Go Around 193 Word Without End 196 Acknowledgments 197 Notes 200 Index 226