Monday, May 07, 2007

Misquoting Truth

I've been informed by a correspondent that IVP USA are publishing (June 2007) a response to Bart Ehrman's Misquoting Jesus , namely Timothy Paul Jones' Misquoting Truth: A Guide to the Fallacies of Bart Ehrman's "Misquoting Jesus".

Its contents are:

Introduction: A New Breed of Biblical Scholar?

Part One: Why the Texts Can Be Trusted
1 Truth About "The Originals That Matter"
2 Truth About the Copyists
3 Truth About "Significant Changes" in the New Testament
4 Truth About "Misquoting Jesus"

Part Two: Why the Lost Christianities Were Lost
5 Truth About Oral History
6 Truth About the Authors of the Gospels
7 Truth About Eyewitness Testimony
8 Truth About How the Books Were Chosen

Concluding Reflections: "It Fits the Lock"

Appendix: How Valuable Is the Testimony of Papias?
About the Author

I do not know of the author's text-critical credentials, and observe that commendations have generally not been from textual critics (T. Scott Caulley's said the most), but while I wouldn't necessarily expect earth-shattering insights on textual criticism in the book there is plenty of room for a work that shows weaknesses in argumentation in Ehrman's original book. Besides, I shan't be complaining about how others do the job, having turned down an offer from another publisher to write a response to Ehrman's MJ.

The funniest aspect of the book is probably going to be the cover, which has Jesus and the disciples upside down, rather like the upside down Hebrew on MJ.


  1. "The funniest aspect of the book is probably going to be the cover, which has Jesus and the disciples upside down, rather like the upside down Hebrew on MJ."

    I once visited a gorgeous Catholic church north of Dallas which had a huge, beautiful crucifix on the wall at the front to the side of the altar, with the inscription about Jesus in Latin, Greek and Hebrew - and the Hebrew was upside down!

    I brought it to their attention, and they admitted that they were aware of it and were deciding on what to do. The next time I visited, they had somehow fixed it.

  2. I'm the author of Misquoting Truth. As such, I am uniquely qualified to answer your question regarding the text-critical aspects of my book. :-)

    My training is primarily in history and New Testament literature, not textual criticism (though, obviously, working in New Testament literature, I'm certainly not ignorant of the text-critical issues). As such, the weaknesses in Ehrman's arguments on which my book focuses concern his historical methodology and the resultant flaws in his reconstructions, not only in Misquoting Jesus but also in his other works. If you'll email me, I'll be glad to get further information to you.

    (By the way, I'm glad the artistic pun wasn't too obscure, playing off the upside-down manuscript on Misquoting Jesus.)

  3. The email address at which you can most readily contact me is ...

    timothy [[[at]]]

  4. It would be interesting to get Bart's perspective on this book when it comes out.

  5. I have corresponded with Dr. Ehrman regarding the book, and he has seen the manuscript. Since it was personal correspondence, I don't feel comfortable sharing it, but I will state that I found him to be an eminently likable person.

  6. And he is in person as he is in correspondence.

  7. Oh, now we are having a little Bart Ehrman love in? So, he's not the anti-Christ then?

  8. Thanks, anon. (I do wish that people who made this sort of comment would at least give me a name to call them.)

    Your comment seems to presuppose a false antithesis:

    1) 'likable' in a personal way
    2) opposition to Christ

    The relationship between these two is not simple. I have opposed many of Ehrman's argument in print and will continue to do so. I will likewise oppose his opposition to what I understand to be the historic Christian faith. That does not, however, mean that my love does not extend to him as my neighbour in the global village, nor mean that I cannot thank God for Bart's humanity.

  9. Dr. Ehrman, is that you sneaking in here again to see what we're up to? :-)

    I don't think anyone's characterized Bart Ehrman in such apocalyptic terms. I simply find his historic reconstructions as well as the implications that he deduces from textual variants to suffer from some fundamental flaws---interpretations that move beyond what the evidence warrants.

  10. Just to avoid confusion ... Peter, I think you and I responded to the "Anonymous" posting at the same time. My response above is to "Anonymous," not to your posting.

  11. Well, I am a different anon from the first commenter. As for a name, that might reveal too much. Just call me 'furrowed'.

    As for the substance at hand: I warm to the great love you have bestowed upon the now greatly loved Bart (even if he is an anti-Christ).

    And where is all this opposition to the GLB's many arguments in print?

  12. Furrowed, Try here, but there are many other points on this blog if you look through it.

  13. How is that 'in print'?

  14. This comment has been removed by the author.

  15. The only other book besides my own that I've seen "in print" is Misquotes in Misquoting Jesus: Why You Can Still Believe. Most of that book is cut-and-pasted from public-domain reviews---and these cut-and-pasted portions are the best parts of the book. The abysmally low quality of the research, writing, and reasoning in that book was one of the main reasons that I wrote Misquoting Truth.

    Peter Williams has, however, responded to Ehrman's ideas in several journal articles, I believe---for example, 'But Are the Variants All Real?', Bible League Quarterly 423 (2005) 135-38.

  16. Tim, The BLQ article was more about Matthew 1:16. Don't think it mentioned Ehrman. I use the term 'print' to refer to publicly written pieces. However, whether something is in hard copy or not is largely immaterial.

  17. Thanks for the clarification---your article was in my files on Ehrman with reference to his claims on page 96 of Misquoting Jesus (paperback edition) that the variants in Matthew 1:16 demonstrate scribal tendencies to turn implicit teachings in the text into explicit teachings. So I had identified it as a piece that dealt with Ehrman, even though it doesn't actually deal directly with Ehrman. Sorry!

  18. Bit of a tangent I know, but isn't BLQ pretty much KJV-only?

  19. BLQ is pretty much KJVO (though of course for those who follow the taxonomy in the KJVO movement there are several stages further in KJVO-ness you can go than the BLQ). Perhaps that was part of the attraction of seeing if I could write something simultaneously true to my non-KJVO principles and able to be approved by them. Have you ever thought of putting in an article for them? :-) After all, Keith Elliott can write for MTS and Bart Ehrman approves of KJV's 'son' in John 1:18.

  20. Dr. Williams,

    How come you refused to write a book refuting Bart Ehrman?

  21. The most important factor in the decision was looking at all the commitments I already had and realising I could not take an additional one within the timescale required by the publisher.