In Misquoting Jesus, Ehrman takes the reader through some of the changes that have been made to the Bible over the years, both deliberate and not, and the techniques scholars can use in an attempt to uncover what the original might have said. He does an amazing job of making some pretty complex material accessible to a lay reader.
My first encounter with Ehrman was through his textbook, The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings. I was a Christian at the time, and, while I knew that the Bible had been translated and that it was therefore subject to the manipulations inherent in translation, I had no idea just how deeply the transmission errors lie.
As I read through Ehrman’s textbook and studied the material in class, I found my faith deeply challenged. Just as Ehrman describes in his introduction, our way of knowing God is through scripture. And if scripture is flawed or inaccessible, what can we truly say we know about God?
This thinking put me on a path that eventually led to my deconversion.
Misquoting Jesus is every bit as challenging as The New Testament. I find it rather interesting that the most damning argument against Christian belief comes from the Bible itself – from reading it, from understanding it within the context of its writing, and from learning just how fragile texts can be.
But Ehrman never argues against the Christian faith. He is by no means a Dawkins or a Hitchens. Rather, he simply presents the research and allows it to stand, or fall, for itself.