Receive the Word

The last 30 plus years has seen a rise in interest in what are known as pseudo-gospels, epistles, and apocalypses discovered in the 1950’s in Nag Hammadi[1] and other places in Egypt. Generally, these documents and others have been referred to as Gnostic or Apocryphal writings. The term “Gnostic” is a reference to knowledge; especially knowledge of secret spiritual truths, while apocryphally refers to what is hidden or concealed. Both of these terms are used to refer to books that are considered by conservative Christians, as not a part of the inspired authorized canon of Scripture. The writers of these uncanonical works were attempting to emulate the Gospels, Acts, and letters.

The Conspiracy Theory

Because of liberal scholarship of such persons as Bart D. Ehrman, Elaine Pagels, Karen L. King, and Marvin W. Meyer; many have become suspicious and skeptical about the Bible being the Word of God and orthodox Christianity, being the Christianity that heresy grew out of centuries later. The Gnostic or Apocryphal writings as presented by the agnostic, atheist, and liberal-to-moderate Bible scholar, to the churchgoers, have created an acceptance never considered by the orthodox community. Both the teachings of Jesus and first-century Christianity have been dealt a new hand in the history books by these writings.

Modern-day scholarship has used these documents to propagate the theory that there was a variety of Christian movements in the first-century, along with what we know as orthodox Christianity, and these varieties just continued to grow until the fourth century. The fourth century saw the orthodox variety take the prominent position until it was considered the Church. Thereafter, it conspired to erase any evidence that other varieties of Christianity existed in the first-century.

According to these Bible scholars, this conspiratorial church developed the new history that there was only one true Christianity in the first and second century and by the end of the second and beginning of the third-century division was causing breakaway groups. The new Orthodox Church changed the story around to say that these fragment groups developed in the late second to early third centuries, but never took hold because the orthodox was always the real source of Christianity. This Orthodox Church supposedly suppressed the gnostic and apocryphal writings, while at the same time; they altered what we know to be the canonical Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

Elaine Pagels, a professor of religion, put it this way,

Yet even the fifty-two writings discovered at Nag Hammadi offer only a glimpse of the complexity of the early Christian movement. We now begin to see that what we call Christianity, and what we identify as Christian tradition, actually represents only a small selection of specific sources, chosen from among dozens of others. Who made that selection, and for what reasons? Why were these other writings excluded and banned as ‘heresy’? What made them so dangerous? Now, for the first time, we have the opportunity to find out about the earliest Christian heresy; for the first time, the heretics can speak for themselves. (Pagels 1989, xxxv)

For scholars like Elaine Pagels and Bart D. Ehrman, Marvin W. Meyer, and others, the Bible is just one source that Christians should look to for their understanding of God. These scholars and others believe that these apocryphal books are just as canonical, authorized and authoritative as the ones we have always accepted, giving further weight to their credibility than the 27 books that have been accepted for almost 2,000 years as the only canonical New Testament. This popular message is resonating with this generation of Christians that are so busy trying to eke out a living; they do not have the time to investigate the truth of the matter. I believe that our investigation into Bart Ehrman, will add to what other authors have exposed, it is all theory, smoke, and mirrors (deception), nothing more.

The Importance of Being Informed

Almost all Christians today are uninformed about the very book they carry. Sure, many love the Bible, and some see it as the inspired and fully inerrant Word of God. However, let me draw you an analogy. Every Christian also likely believes that the Bible says we are allowed to defend ourselves against physical harm. Nevertheless, most do not take classes in unarmed self-defense. But then again, some do because they live in rough neighborhoods. Christians that live in high crime areas, where mugging, carjacking, robbery, assault, sexual assault, rape, and murder, are everyday experiences, are more prone to take such classes. Surviving in such a climate may very well depend on their training in unarmed self-defense. It may be the difference between life and death of self, family, friend, or of a spiritual brother or sister.


Today we Christians live in a world that assaults the Word of God and Christianity using every possible method. The Bible critic uses such tools as the radio, television, movies, books, schools, billboards, lawsuits, and so on. They are figuratively robbing us, as well as our loved ones with their misleading words, their trickery, their cunning deception, and blatant lies. No place is safe. Do you prepare your Christian children for the onslaught that they face in today’s school system? Do you prepare yourself? One may believe that they do not need to defend what they know to be true, but that does not always end with the best results, as many are walking away from the faith, as we saw from the above.

Suppose you are online on a Christian discussion board, and someone begins raising doubts about the Bible. The issues they raise cannot just be set aside because Christians new in their faith may be on the board with you. If none of the Christians on the discussion board defends the Bible against the critic, the new Christians may assume we have no answers and start reading books, which lead them into a spiritual shipwreck. This too is a matter of life and death. Moreover, listen to Peter’s words, as he spells out our obligation as Christians, “in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” –1 Peter 3:15.

William Lane Craig writes, “I think the church is really failing these kids. Rather than provide them training in the defense of Christianity’s truth, we focus on emotional worship experiences, felt needs, and entertainment. It’s no wonder they become sitting ducks for that teacher or professor who rationally takes aim at their faith. In high school and college, students are intellectually assaulted with every manner of non-Christian philosophy conjoined with an overwhelming relativism and skepticism. We’ve got to train our kids for war. How dare we send them unarmed into an intellectual war zone? Parents must do more than take their children to church and read them Bible stories. Moms and dads need to be trained in apologetics themselves and so be able to explain to their children simply from an early age and then with increasing depth why we believe as we do. Honestly, I find it hard to understand how Christian couples in our day and age can risk bringing children into the world without being trained in apologetics as part of the art of parenting.”[2]

Craig also writes, “If the gospel is to be heard as an intellectually viable option for thinking men and women today, then it’s vital that we as Christians try to shape American culture in such a way that Christian belief cannot be dismissed as mere superstition. This is where Christian apologetics comes in. If Christians could be trained to provide solid evidence for what they believe and good answers to unbelievers’ questions and objections, then the perception of Christians would slowly change. Christians would be seen as thoughtful people to be taken seriously rather than as emotional fanatics or buffoons. The gospel would be a real alternative for people to embrace. I’m not saying that people will become Christians because of the arguments and evidence. Rather I’m saying that the arguments and evidence will help to create a culture in which Christian belief is a reasonable thing. They create an environment in which people will be open to the gospel. So becoming trained in apologetics is one way, a vital way, of being salt and light in American culture today.”

A Look Into Ehrman’s Misquoting Jesus

This second edition will be dealing with the Greek text of our New Testament, through the Eyes of Dr. Bart D. Ehrman, in his New York Times bestseller: Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why (2005). First, in this preface, we will look into Bart D. Ehrman’s early life and spiritual decline as he moved from being an Evangelical conservative Christian to becoming an agnostic. Second, we will open with some introductory chapters on the basics of New Testament textual criticism, as well as some chapters that will help us better understand Bible difficulties. Third, we will give the reader the fundamentals of some of Ehrman’s arguments, debunking them as we investigate each one. Fourth, we will offer some thoughts on how to view evidence. Fifth, Danial B. Wallace has recently debated Ehrman, and we will give the reader an online discussion they had after the debates. Finally, we will recommend some specific books that will help us better cope with Bible critics such as Bart D. Ehrman, Elaine Pagels, and Marvin W. Meyer.

Before beginning, we are going to approach this book, by assuming that every reader has no knowledge of the subject matter of Bible difficulties and textual studies. In other words, we will be defining and explaining many things. The reason for this approach is, Ehrman’s book is written on a popular level, meaning that his audience is churchgoers and laypersons, who in all likelihood have never read a book on textual criticism or Bible difficulties. This does not mean we will neglect the deeper things because these will also be addressed, on a layperson level as well.

In addition, there are times when a section is repeated in another area, as a refresher, to set the reader up for the context of that subject matter. Finally, we are giving the reader several chapters on understanding Bible difficulties, because it is vitally important to understand this issue well. So it may touch on Bible difficulties that are not directly related to our debunking Bart. D. Ehrman, but will help to defend God’s Word better as being fully inerrant and inspired. Moreover, it will help the reader see how to understand better that we are dealing with Bible difficulties, not errors or contradictions.

Discovering the Ehrman Mindset

“My questions were complicated even more as I began to think increasingly about the manuscripts that conveyed the words. The more I studied Greek, the more I became interested in the manuscripts that preserve the New Testament for us, and in the science of textual criticism,  which can supposedly help us reconstruct what the original words of the New Testament were. I kept reverting to my basic question: how does it help us to say that the Bible is the inerrant word of God if in fact we don’t have the words copied by the scribes―sometimes correctly but sometimes (many times!) incorrectly? What good is it to say that the autographs (i.e., the originals) were inspired? We don’t have the original! We have only error ridden copies, and the vast majority of these are centuries removed from the originals and different from them, evidently, in thousands of ways.” Bold mine. (Ehrman, 2005, p. 7)

Please notice the mental disposition, “supposedly,” “many times!” “don’t have the originals!” “error ridden copies,” vast majority of,” “centuries removed,” “different from,” and “thousands of.” Well, this sounds quite ominous does it not? We might all just throw up our hands and go home, and give up Christianity, because we could never possess the Word of God in the New Testament. Do not my latter words sound a bit sarcastic toward Ehrman? Yes, they are meant to come across that way, because I had the agenda to be sarcastic. The point being, one can tell the intent of what is being expressed by the wording. Now, what would we think Ehrman’s objective is, by the way, he is writing in the above? We will get back to that soon enough.

However, before we jump into the early life of Ehrman, would it surprise us to know, after reading the above, that 75 percent of all New Testament textual evidence does not need to be touched because it is what the originals would have had if we possessed them? Would we be surprised that many textual scholars with the same level of credentials as Ehrman have said that we have restored the New Testament Greek text to a mirror reflection of what the original would have been? Would we be surprised to find that we have more textual evidence for the work of restoring the Greek New Testament than any other ancient document, a thousand times over? Would we be surprised that most of those 25 percent of corrections that do need to be made are known as insignificant variants that are of no consequence because they are trivial, and easily corrected with what we have? Is this the impression we got from the above? Would it surprise us, even more, to know that Bart D. Ehrman is aware of all of this? Well, we will return to Ehrman’s mental disposition in a moment.

SEE HERE: How to Count Textual Variants

The above quote comes from Bart D Ehrman’s bestseller Misquoting Jesus: the Story behind Who Changed the Bible and Why. Bart D. Ehrman is actually a New Testament scholar extraordinaire. He chairs the department of religious studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He is one of the world’s leading authorities on early Christianity and the life of Jesus Christ. In fact, he has authored over twenty books in this field of study. Moreover, his books are New York Times bestsellers. Ehrman was raised in a conservative Christian family of five in the heartland of America―Lawrence, Kansas. It was the 1950s and 1960s, a time when the American citizens took religion very seriously.

His early life was filled with a conservative Christian influence. Christian youth camp and a camp leader that he calls “Bruce” influenced his middle teens. It was here that Ehrman was moved by his ‘born-again’ experience to take the Bible more serious. Therefore, the next stage was all too natural, he signed on at Moody Bible Institute in 1973, a conservative religious institution that takes Bible education serious in the extreme. The school name itself carries a reputation of knowing that it educates nothing but the most skilled Christians, who accept the Bible as nothing short of fully inerrant, with every word being inspired of God. In his telling of his early life, Ehrman reveals that he was not such a student, as Bart was very concerned as he got to know that there were no autograph manuscripts still extant (available today).[3]

Even more disturbing to him was that textual scholars do not even have the first published copies of the autographs or the second and third generation of copies. This issue alone seemed to push Ehrman into the field of textual studies. This weighed heavy on his young mind as he entered yet another evangelical university of extraordinary reputation in producing some of the best scholars the world has to offer: Wheaton College. Wheaton, being conservative, seemed though to pale in comparison to his former days at Moody. It was now time to peak outside of the box of just accepting things and not raising any issues about discrepancies that had been plaguing his mind. It was here that he met scholars, who were not afraid of asking the tough questions concerning their faith. While this is certainly reasonable, it was one more step toward the slippery slope that was going to consume young Ehrman. It was here that we see the mindset of Ehrman starting to develop, as our initial quote at the outset of this piece, in the above.

As he settled into the field of textual criticism, Ehrman would head on to yet another big named school, but one that was now moving away from his founding conservative principles, to a more liberal progressive stance: Princeton Theological Seminary. It is here that Bart D. Ehrman would study under the renowned textual scholar, Bruce M. Metzger. When writing an initial paper, for a Princeton professor by the name of Cullen Story at the beginning of his stay, Bart tried to give a long, complicated answer to overturn a discrepancy found in the Gospel of Mark. (Mark 2:26; 1 Sam 21:1-6) It was the response of this professor, on Bart’s paper, which sent Ehrman onto the road of Agnosticism: “Maybe Mark just made a mistake.” Here is Bart’s established mindset from Misquoting Jesus before he even enters his first chapter,

  1. 7: How does it help us to say that the Bible is the inerrant word of God if in fact we don’t have the words of God inerrantly inspired, but only the words copied by the scribes – sometimes correctly, but sometimes (many times!) incorrectly?
  2. 10: It is one thing to say that the originals were inspired, but the reality is that we don’t have the originals – so saying they were inspired doesn’t help me much.
  3. 10: Not only do we not have the originals, we don’t have the originals of the first copies. We don’t even have copies of the copies of the originals, or copies of the copies of the copies of the originals.[4]
  4. 11: If one wants to insist that God inspired the very words of scripture, what would be the point if we don’t have the very words of scripture? In some places, as we will see, we simply cannot be sure that we have constructed the original text accurately. It’s a bit hard to know what the words of the Bible mean if we don’t even know what the words are!
  5. 11: The fact that we don’t have the words surely must show, I reasoned, that he did not preserve them for us. And if he didn’t perform that miracle, there seemed to be no reason to think that he performed the earlier miracle of inspiring those words.

It seems that Ehrman has a mindset that is perpetuated by a blind spot, the fact that we do not have the originals. We will start with Ehrman’s obstacle of Mark 2:26. At Mark 2:26 many translations have Jesus saying that David went into the house of God and ate the showbread “when Abiathar was high priest.” Since Abiathar’s father, Ahimelech was the high priest when that event took place, such a translation would seem to result in a historical error.

As Ehrman explains his assignment of having to write a paper dealing with the discrepancy of Mark 2:26: ‘he was overly concerned with the idea of turning in anything that did not keep the validity of inerrancy alive.’ He said he had to do “fancy exegetical foot-work” for that to happen. The context of his recounting of the story was that he had to bend heaven and earth to get something resembling an explanation that avoided a historical error, which was not only a daunting task but time-consuming as well. Ehrman writes,

At the end of my paper, [Professor Story] wrote a simple one-line comment that for some reason went straight through me. He wrote: “Maybe Mark just made a mistake.” I started thinking about it, considering all the work I had put into the paper, realizing that I had to do some pretty fancy exegetical foot-work to get around the problem, and that my solution was in fact a bit of a stretch. I finally concluded, “Hmm . . . maybe Mark did make a mistake.”

Once I made the admission, the floodgates opened. For if there could be one little, picayune mistake in Mark 2, maybe there could be mistakes in other places as well…. This kind of realization coincided with the problems I was encountering the more closely I studied the surviving Greek manuscripts of the New Testament. It is one thing to say that the original were inspired, but the reality is that we do not have the originals―so saying they were inspired doesn’t help much, unless I can reconstruct the originals.[5]

Before looking at Ehrman’s “fancy exegetical footwork” that he says ‘took much work,’ let us say that this Bible difficulty is solved with simple reasoning. Is it not true that if we referred to the Roman Emperor Tiberius, before the time of his becoming emperor, we would say Roman Emperor Tiberius? Why? Because it is a title and position that he is known for throughout history. This would hold true with Abiathar as well. Therefore, Mark’s reference to Abiathar as high priest is simply a reference to the position he had in history.

 Mark 2:26 (NET): “he [being David] entered the house of God when Abiathar was high priest.” This rendering is certainly a historical error if taken outside of the way we normally talk about people in history. Let us start with looking at an interlinear, to get an understanding of the Greek words involved.[6]

WHNU:[7] [pos]   eiselthen   eis  ton  oikon  tou   theou

how he entered  into the house of the God

epi abiathar archierews

upon Abiathar chief priest

 The Greek structure of Mark 2:26 is similar to that of Mark 12:26 and has been used by the translations below in their rendering of 2:26. This is perfectly acceptable, and there was no need for any “fancy exegetical footwork.” The only exegetical footwork that I see is Ehrman’s attempt at exaggerating a small Bible difficulty and not giving the complete picture. One has to keep in mind that original readers did not need to go to the length that we do today. It was written to them, in their language and their historic setting. We are 2,000 years removed and in a modern era that can hardly relate to them. Therefore, in translation and exegesis, there is work to be done. Yet, any beginning Bible student with the reference works could have resolved this Bible difficulty in a matter of minutes. In fact, any churchgoer with the Big Book of Bible Difficulties by Norman Geisler or the Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties by Gleason L. Archer could have found a reasonable answer the moment they opened the book. Why Ehrman struggled so when he had three years at Moody Bible Institute and two years at Wheaton College is beyond this writer.

Mark 12:26 (USB4): epi tou batou pos

upon the thorn bush how

Mark 12:26: epi tou batou [“in the time of the burning bush”]


Mark 2:26 (NASB): “in the time of Abiathar”

Mark 2:26 (ESV):  “in the time of Abiathar”

Mark 2:26 (HCSB):  “in the time of Abiathar”


Mark 2:26:       epi abiathar [“in the time of Abiathar”]

Mark 12:26: epi tou batou [“in the time of the burning bush”]

Luke 20:37:  epi tes batou [“in the time of the burning bush”]

Acts 11:28:        epi klaudiou [“in the time of Claudius”]

Hebrews 1:2: epoiesen tous aionas [“in the time of the last days.”]

Actually, if we look at Jesus’ words: “He [David] entered the house of God, in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence;” Jesus did not state that Abiathar was high priest at the time of this incident, only “in the time of . . .”[8] Contextually, Abiathar is actually present when the event took place. And in the story just after the murder of his father and would be high priest, a position, and title of which one would refer to him as thereafter, even in discussing events before his receiving that position. This is just a loose citation of Scripture. Today, we do it all the time. Therefore, it was in the time of Abiathar, but not during the time, he occupied the chief priest position. 1 Sam 22:9-12, 18; 23:6; 1 Sam 21:1-6; 22:18-19.

This is actually the argument that Ehrman had given to his professor, Cullen Story, which is a reasonable argument. Here are Ehrman’s own words,

In my paper for Professor Story, I developed a long and complicated argument to the effect that even though Mark indicates this happened “when Abiathar was the high priest,” it doesn’t really mean that Abiathar was the high priest, but that the event took place in the part of the scriptural text that has Abiathar as one of the main characters. My argument was based on the meaning of the Greek words involved and was a bit convoluted. Misquoting Jesus (p. 9)

Ehrman believes that his argument to Professor Story was “long and complicated argument.” Ehrman says that his argument was also “convoluted,” which means that it was extremely intricate: too complex or intricate to understand easily. Really, I made the same argument in one page of typed text and wrote on a level that could be easily understood. I do not personally see mine as “long and complicated,” nor “convoluted.” Sadly, it gets even worse for Ehrman and his case, because he actually expresses himself in the same way that Jesus did, which is a common way of expressing things. If we look at page 9, the very page of his complaint, we will find Ehrman saying:

Jesus wants to show the Pharisees that “Sabbath was made for humans, not humans for the Sabbath” and so reminds them of what the great King David had done when he and his men were hungry, how they went into the Temple “when Abiathar was the high priest” and ate the show bread, which was only for the priests to eat. Misquoting Jesus (p. 9)

First, David was not king at the time of Ehrman’s reference. Second, there was no Temple at the time it was the Tabernacle. This is just a loose reference to Scripture by Ehrman as he refers to the person and place involved. We know David as King David, so we are not befuddled by his loose reference and recognize this is a way of referencing things. He also knows we think of it as a Temple, not the Tabernacle; we generally think of the Tabernacle being associated with Moses. Moreover, it was David’s son, Solomon, who would eventually build the Temple. Here we have a world-renowned Bible scholar, who uses a loose reference in his book, and expects that his audience will understand what he means by his way of wording things. Was Ehrman technically chronologically wrong? Yes, in the strictest sense of things, if one wishes to be unreasonable. However, if we recognize this is an acceptable way of human expression; then, no really he is not wrong because he knows his audience will understand his loose reference, and so it goes with Jesus as well. If only, Ehrman was as reasonable with Mark, who was recording Jesus’ words.

Misleading by Failing to Qualify

If a textual scholar writes a book and says that the NT Greek manuscripts contain 400,000 errors or variants without qualifying that statement, this alone can be quite staggering to think about and will certainly dishearten the reader. A fuller explanation of how we count variants will be given in CHAPTER 10 ‘How to Count Textual Variants’. Below is the gist of what will be found in Chapter 10.

The critical text is as close as we get to what the original would have been like (99.95% restored).[9] Therefore, we use the reading in the critical text as the original reading, and anything outside of that in the manuscript history is a variant: ‘spelling, word order, omission, addition, substitution, or a total rewrite of the text.’

Misleading by Exaggeration

 For example sake alone: if we find numerous overdone statements and exaggerated explanations, with missing information and many exclamation points to emphasize the negative, but seldom mentioning the positive; we can eventually see a pattern. If this proves to be the case, the writer is certainly doing a disservice to the reader. If we find 200 texts that are supposed to be full of historical, geographical, or scientific errors, and they are highlighted, yet this person fails to explain to the reader that each of the 200 errors have reasonable and logical explanations; then, this is a pattern of misleading the reader by failing to disclose all of the facts. Many who have read Ehrman’s Misquoting Jesus are simply churchgoers that occasionally study the Bibles, who are not aware of the apologetic answers to the claims. Scholars are hardly moved by them, as they are well aware of the alternative explanations.

 If we find repeated behavior that reflects an agenda of highlighting minute issues, while ignoring a massive amount of positives, one can hardly avoid the conclusion that we have an agnostic scholar, who wishes others to join his ranks. Why dramatically point to Mark 2:26 as the obstacle with the exclamation points and act as though the historical error is a fact, and only “fancy exegetical footwork” can possibly undo it? This we will look at repeatedly because each of his textual issues has explanations that he largely fails to share with his reader. Let us look at one more text before moving on.

Mark 4:31: “It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth”―ESV.

Critic: Today we know that the mustard seed is not the smallest seed on earth. If Jesus were the Son of God, he would have known that.

 Bart D. Ehrman: “Jesus says later in Mark 4 that the mustard seed is ‘the smallest of all seeds on the earth,’ maybe I don’t need to come up with a fancy explanation for how the mustard seed is the smallest of all seeds when I know full well it isn’t”―p. 9-10.

Some commentators argue that Jesus was referring to the seed for the black mustard plant. However, while this could be the case, it need not be that complicated. Jesus was talking to Jewish farmers, to which the mustard seed was the smallest. Jesus was not giving a lesson in botany but was attempting to make a point by using what the people knew. In fact, the mustard seed is one of the tiniest seeds and to those, to whom Jesus was speaking to, it was. The Bible is not a science textbook, nor is to be treated as such in our interpretation.

Is there a Need for Concern?

Is there a pattern forming here? Is the problem anything more than a Bible difficulty for the regular churchgoer, who has the potential to find a reasonable answer within minutes? Does Ehrman’s expression “fancy explanation” imply more than one needing some Bible background knowledge that takes less than five minutes to acquire? To this writer, it does, when considered with his other phrase that we have already seen. In addition, remember, we have not even made it out of the introduction to the book yet. Ehrman said that he had to do “some pretty fancy exegetical footwork to get around the problem,” [of Mark 2:26’s ‘when Abiathar was high priest’] and in fact, my solution was a bit of a stretch.” I found the answer that is accepted by some of the best translations and commentators, as well as apologetics within a few minutes.[10] There was no deed for some “fancy exegetical footwork.” It seems that Bart D Ehrman, the “happy agnostic” as he calls himself is attempting to make his points in exaggerated fashion in Misquoting Jesus. A person that intends to exaggerate his claims allow ‘some manuscripts’ to become ‘the majority of manuscripts,’ and the ‘majority of manuscripts’ becoming ‘all manuscripts,’ and ‘some cases of intentional errors by scribes’ becomes ‘all cases.’ One certainly has to question the credibility of any scholar that would tend to exaggerate numbers, extent, reports and leave out other information that would derail his point.

I want us to keep the phrase “accuracy of statement” in mind, as I am going to be using it all through our investigation of Misquoting Jesus. We will look at several of his comments throughout his publication, evaluating them as we go. Before we begin this journey, let it be said here that no Bible student is responsible for restoring the original text. However, every, and I do mean every Bible student is responsible for having a basic knowledge of the issues at hand, the art and science of textual criticism (TC). Textual criticism is not to be confused with higher criticism. TC ‘is the study of any written work of which the autograph is unknown, with the purpose of ascertaining the original text.’  (Greenlee, 1995) Literally, hundreds of textual scholars over the last 400-years have given their lives to this work. One can feel most confident that our NA27 and our UBS4 master Greek texts are predominately the same as the originals that were penned so long ago. Bible scholars Norman L. Geisler and William Nix conclude: “The New Testament, then, has not only survived in more manuscripts than any other book from antiquity, but it has survived in a purer form than any other great book – a form that is 99.5 percent pure.”[11]

[1] NAG HAMMADI (Nȧg Hăm maʹ dē) Modern Egyptian village 300 miles south of Cairo and about 60 miles north of Luxor or ancient Thebes. Because of the close proximity of Nag Hammadi to the site of an important discovery of ancient documents relating to Gnosticism, the collection of documents is usually referred to as the Nag Hammadi Documents or Library. – Chad Brand, Charles Draper, Archie England et al., Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003), 1167-68.

[2] Craig, William Lane. On Guard: Defending Your Faith with Reason and Precision (Kindle Locations 267-274). David C. Cook. Kindle Edition.

[3] The manuscript penned by one of the New Testament writers: Matthew, Mark, Luke John, Paul, Peter, James, or Jude. However, it may not have been personally penned, as the writer may have dictated to a scribe, as he took things down in shorthand, to later create a rough draft, which would be corrected by the Bible writer ad scribe, before being signed and published.

[4] This may very well be an exaggeration because we do have some very early papyri.

[5] Ehrman, Bart D.: Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why. New York: HarperCollins, 2005, pp. 9-10.

[6] Throughout we will be doing transliteration because the conversion tools do not convert the Hebrew and Greek fonts.

[7] WHNU stands for the master critical Westcott and Hort Greek text of 1881, the 27th edition of the Nestle-Aland Greek text of 1993 and the fourth edition of the United Bible Societies Greek text of 1993. Of course, WH alone would refer to Westcott and Hort, while NA27 alone would stand for the Nestle-Aland text and UBS4 alone would stand for the United Bible Societies Greek text.

[8] Ἀβιαθὰρ ἀρχιερέως under, in the time of, Abiathar the high priest Mk 2:26. ἐ. ἀρχιερέως Ἅννα καὶ Καιάφα Lk 3:2. ἐ. Κλαυδίου Ac 11:28

[9] While it is true that some scholars, like Philip Comfort, argue that, the NU could be improved upon, because in many cases it is too dependent on internal evidence when the documentary evidence should be more of a consideration as to the weightiness of the matter. Again though, this is a handful of places, when one considers 138,020 words in the Greek New Testament.

[10] Gleason L. Archer Jr.: Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984, p. 329;

[10] Norman L. Geisler; Thomas Howe: The Big Book of Bible Difficulties. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1992, p. 345; Kaiser, Walter C.; Davids, Peter H.; Bruce F. F.; Brauch, Manfred T.: Hard Sayings of the Bible. Downer Groves, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1996, pp 411-412; Comfort, Philip W.: New Testament Text and Translation Commentary. Carol Stream, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, 2008, p. 102

[11] Geisler, Norman L.; Nix, William E.: A General Introduction to the Bible. Chicago, Illinois, Moody Press, 1980 Reprint, p. 361.