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Bible Writers Intended to Deceive

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Bible Writers Intended to Deceive

by John Murawski

Scholars have long resisted using the term "forgery" to characterize Biblical writings made under false authorship, on the grounds that such concepts as forgery, plagiarism and intellectual property are modern legal constructs and don't apply to the ancients. But UNC-Chapel Hill religion professor Bart Ehrman - a nemesis of conservative Evangelical Christianity who repudiated his faith in his 20s - makes the forgery accusation without reservation in a new book of that name.

The forgers who wrote a half-dozen epistles and the Book of Acts, along with scores of other documents that never made it into the New Testament, acted with deliberate forethought, knowing exactly what they were doing, Ehrman contends. That makes the Bible a very dishonest book in Ehrman's estimation - rife not only with mistakes and untruths, but with deceptions and lies.

"The authors intended to deceive their readers, and their readers were all too easily deceived," Ehrman writes. "The use of deception to promote the truth may well be considered one of the most unsettling ironies of the early Christian tradition."


After Christianity sought to ally itself with the Roman Empire, forged gospels and epistles were created to absolve the Romans of murdering Jesus and to place the blame for deicide on the Jews. In the Pilate Gospel and others, for example, the Pilate repents for his role in the crucifixion and converts to Christianity.

Such accounts abounded with chilling anti-Semitic stereotypes of malevolent Jews as Christ-killers. They were in circulation for centuries and thrived much longer as an oral tradition, feeding into the mainstream of European thought well until modern times.

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