I found Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why troublesome to my understanding of the translation process of the bible. It has made me review my understanding of the bible. However, this is just one book of many from different authors. I am wondering if Dr. Ehrman is well respected in the study of biblical hermeneutics. I personally have little experience and understanding of the field.
Professor Bart D. Ehrman's Curriculum Vitae reveals an academic with impeccable credentials. Perhaps the most important line is:
His doctoral adviser was none other than Bruce Metzger, who wrote the book on textual criticism of the New Testament. Ehrman doesn't simply ride on the coattails of Dr. Metzger either—he's the co-author of the fifth edition of The Text of the New Testament.
Dr. Ehrman has written many academic papers on the topic of textual criticism, which are routinely cited by other scholars. When it comes to specific determinations of which textual variation is most likely authentic, other scholars often agree with him and usually admit that his arguments are sound. Daniel B. Wallace, who often disagrees with Ehrman's opinions, nevertheless lists him among many "heroes in textual criticism":
As a scholar of textual criticism and history, his work has been widely and rightly praised.
But of course, Bart Ehrman is more than a scholar and teacher—he is easily the most famous textual critic who has ever lived. More than anyone else, Ehrman has brought the arcane sub-field of Biblical Hermeneutics into popular conciseness. Misquoting Jesus is likely the first and last book on the topic that anyone outside of the field will ever read on the topic. It's likely in this role that history will judge the man.
And the reviews are literally mixed. Daniel B. Wallace notes that the first 4 chapters of Misquoting Jesus are essentially "textual criticism 101". Besides being extremely readable, these chapters represent some of the very best scholarship available. Dr. Wallace notes some important omissions and a generally pessimistic attitude toward ancient scribes:
Reading a number of reviews, it strikes me that Ehrman begins to get lost when he shifts from a critical examination of the texts to interpretation of what the textual variations mean and their impact on theology. In my own reading of the book, I was struck by Ehrman's argument that seems to run:
Philosophically, this entire line of reasoning is flawed:
It's natural to assume that an expert in a very specialized field is also an expert in general. That's a mistaken assumption, however. Dr. Ehrman's work has been invaluable to me as a check to my particular prejudices, but I would not take any of it without critical examination. His style of writing in his popular books allows him to move very subtly from his considered opinions on the history of the text to his less reliable opinions on the consequences of that history. This unfortunate tactic prevents me from wholeheartedly recommending Bart Ehrman's books.
In his field, Bart Ehrman should be (and is) considered an expert textual critic. As an author of popular books (which are not peer-reviewed in advance), he should be considered a very interesting, but somewhat biased, proponent of a secular reading of the New Testament.
He is not respected by most conservatives when he slips into theology. Textual criticism, he is very good and knows what he is doing. However, I find him sloppy in his work if it pushes his agenda. What's worse is that he knows how to do the work, but since his faith lapsed, he misapplies and misquotes the rules of determining historicity. For example, one rule is "An event that is multiply attested is more likely to be actual than one that is only singly attested." Makes sense. However, Ehrman uses it as if it says "An event that is only singly attested is probably not actual." Completely different things.
He also fails this same test on the account of the resurrection. Even though it is attested by all four gospels, Acts, and several epistles, Ehrman concludes it can't have happened. Why not? It can't be because it lacks attestation.
Contending with Christianity's Critics has a chapter by conservative scholar Daniel Wallace that deals with Ehrman's claims in detail.
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