Dr. Thomas Howe
Bart D. Ehrman, Ph.D. is the chairman of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is touted to be one of North America’s leading textual critics today. His recent book, Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why, is a popular level text that many reviewers take to be an effort to present the field of New Testament textual criticism to a larger, primarily lay, audience. I found it particularly difficult to mount a response to this book. Not because the book is a scholarly presentation, which it certainly is not, and it is not designed to be—this is not a criticism, but a recognition that this is a book written on a popular level, not an academic level. And not because the author makes assertions and claims which are difficult to understand. To the individual with even rudimentary training in textual criticism, church history, philosophy, and logic the multitude of problems with this book are easily identifiable. Rather, I found this book difficult because virtually every assertion and every claim is so fully laden with exaggeration, misrepresentation, selective reporting, and outright falsehoods that almost every line requires a recasting in an accurate light and involves a lengthy response to a series of misrepresentations and half-truths, each built upon the conclusions of the previous. Ehrman has woven a tight web of exaggeration, partial truths, falsehood, and misrepresentation that would take many more pages, and many more hours than we have, to unravel in order to set the record straight. It is truly a DeVinci Code of textual criticism.