Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Burroughs, Misquotes in Misquoting Jesus

I've been notified by the publisher of a new book critiquing Bart Ehrman's Misquoting Jesus (of which various reviews can be found here). The book is by Dillon Burroughs, a young-looking chap who has a Dallas Theological Seminary ThM, but who makes no claim to special expertise in the subject. Details of the book can be found on Amazon here.

I've been sent a PDF of the book and have briefly perused it. I did not notice inaccuracies and observe that many of the 80 of so pages contain extensive quotations from scholars such as Bock, Blomberg, Wallace, and Witherington. In that sense he may be 'doing a Lee Strobel' in his form of writing, i.e. basing what he says on more authoritative individuals.

The basic contents are as follows:

Chapter 1: Misquoting Jesus in the Media: NPR to Comedy Central
Chapter 2: What Misquoting Jesus Gets Right
Chapter 3: Will the Real New Testament Please Stand Up?
Chapter 4: Postmodern and Personal Bias in Misquoting Jesus
Chapter 5: Quantity of Manuscript Changes vs. Quality of Changes
Chapter 6: Deal or No Deal: Must Inerrancy Be All or Nothing?
Chapter 7: New Testament: Remix or Remake?
Chapter 8: Misquoting Jesus and the King James Only Debate
Chapter 9: Women's Issues in Misquoting Jesus
Chapter 10: How Can Evangelicals Respond to Misquoting Jesus?

Given the almost exclusive dependence on electronic sources (e.g. Wikipedia for a list of Ehrman's publications), some of the material is surprising to see in print. He also publishes, evidently without permission, an e-mail exchange between himself and Ehrman.

There is some discussion at the end about what is the best way to respond to books like this (trying to learn lessons from responses to The Da Vinci Code).

It is a quick read and, while seasoned textual critics will learn nothing from it, those who are not scholars or those who are following the debate following the publication of Misquoting Jesus are likely to pick up some insights through reading this.


  1. Hmm. I think I've written a condensed form of this book.

    The subject of quotations in "Misquoting Jesus" recently came to mind as I was re-reading J. Harold Greenlee's book "Scribes, Scrolls, and Scripture." I remember reading somewhere in "Misquoting Jesus" a statement which is a lot like his statement on p. 444 of his "The New Testament: A Historical Introduction" ~ "Occasionally, as you might expect, the correct interpretation of a sentence depends on how the words are to be separated (lastnightatdinnerwesawabundanceonthetable)."

    That seems awfully close to the statement by J. Harold Greenlee on p. 62 of "Scribes, Scrolls, and Scripture" where he describes the potential problems of scriptio continua ~ "For example, the English sentence ISAWABUNDANCEONTHETABLE could be read either as "I saw abundance on the table" or "I saw a bun dance on the table."

    Ehrman's NT Intro is dated 2000; Greenlee's book is dated 1985. Can anyone find any evidence for the example-sentence's use earlier than that?

    Yours in Christ,

    James Snapp, Jr.

  2. Jim,
    It has a rather different take from yours on the end of Mark.
    Best wishes, Pete

  3. From a quick Google search it looks like the pun on abundacne/a-bun-dance on the table appears in the play "Oh, Calcutta," which debuted in 1969. I don't know if it's an old pun or originated with the play. But either way it antedates Greenlee's book.

    Google has also proved to be a very valuable resource in catching students guilty of plagiarism, for those of you who have to grade papers from time to time.