Some 80 years after lawyer Joseph Wheless wrote his classic Forgery in Christianity, it seems some – or at least one – mainstream scholars are catching up to the fact that the New Testament is not what it appears to be and what hundreds of millions have been taught around the world for the past 2,000 or so years.
Published in 1930, Wheless’s work – which was a major influence on my own after I found it on a bookshelf some 20 years ago – essentially consists of quoting the authoritative Catholic Encyclopedia‘s admissions against interest about the New Testament books and epistles, as well as the writings of the early Church fathers. Although the Catholic Encyclopedia (“CE”) does not go so far as to admit that Christianity itself is forged, its editors were fairly honest in their scholarly analyses of some of the individual texts. Obviously, in order to maintain the party line and their vocations, CE editors couldn’t go so far as New Testament scholar Dr. Bart Ehrman has done in his new book Forged: Writing in the Name of God, but even he doesn’t go as far as Wheless did, which was to call the entire gospel tale into question, including the very historicity of its main character, Jesus Christ.
Yet, Ehrman’s hat in the ring of scholarship basically proving textual forgery is a step in the right direction. If one truly studies the literature from the Mythicist School beginning at the latest in the 18th century, one will find as much merit in it as in this “new” analysis of many New Testament texts as forged. It’s just a very small step, really, when one realizes how much of the NT is bogus and how little credible, scientific evidence exists that the gospel tale actually took place when and where claimed or that its main characters were even “historical.”
The Christ Conspiracy
In 1999, my mythicist book The Christ Conspiracy was published, detailing the same research, which, again, actually dates back several centuries, the reason the CE wrote about it. In Christ Con – which has been read by tens of thousands over the past decade+ since its release – I included a chapter entitled, “The Holy Forgery Mill,” in which I stated (24):
From the very beginning of our quest to unravel the Christ conspiracy, we encounter suspicious territory, as we look back in time and discover that the real foundation of Christianity appears nothing like the image provided by the clergy and mainstream authorities.
I went on to describe the atmosphere of fraud that pervaded the founding of the Christian religion, including wholesale forgery of numerous texts, such as not only the “apocryphal” or noncanonical writings but also many of the canonical New Testament books themselves. I quoted Wheless (94) thus:
The gospels are all priestly forgeries over a century after their pretended dates.
I then proceeded to provide numerous proofs of this statement, as well as evidence showing that other canonical texts such as several “Pauline” epistles were known not to have emanated from the apostle’s own hand, such as the three “Pastorals” or epistles to Timothy and Titus, as well as Hebrews. The supposed authorship of the books of Acts and Revelation is likewise highly questionable, despite claims to the contrary, as these texts also do not appear in the literary record until the last half of the second century, neither quoted nor noticed at all by any Christian or other writer before that time. I further included the opinion that the epistles of James, John and Peter were likewise bogus, appearing in the literary/historical record decades after their purported dates and so patently forged in the name of the apostles in order to give authority to doctrines and positions that did not even exist until the second century.
To reiterate, none of this scholarship is new; it’s just the typical catch-up game being played by somewhat mainstream academics following on the heels of “radicals” and laymen, although many of the pioneers in this field of Bible criticism have been professional theologians and New Testament scholars, as my copious quoting reveals.
Since the publication of The Christ Conspiracy, I have written several more books with expanded scholarship demonstrating this contention concerning the forged books of the New Testament, including Suns of God: Krishna, Buddha and Christ Unveiled, Who Was Jesus? Fingerprints of The Christ and Christ in Egypt: The Horus-Jesus Connection. Needless to say, none of the points made by Ehrman is new to me and, while his details may differ, all of them can be found in my books, published years ago.
“There were a lot of people in the ancient world who thought that lying could serve a greater good,” says Ehrman
Ehrman’s contention of rampant lying in antiquity is precisely correct, especially as concerns Christianity, a fact I demonstrate repeatedly in The Christ Conspiracy. Indeed, such fraud is the Christ conspiracy, extending not just to the Christian texts but also to the gospel tale itself, which is clearly based largely upon the myths and sayings of pre-Christian cultures such as the Greek, Roman, Egyptian, European and Indian. This latter contention I also demonstrate in my books and articles revealing numerous mythical motifs that were worked into the gospel story, along with Old Testament “messianic prophecies” that were used as blueprints in the creation of the Christ myth.
Needless to say, with all the heat I’ve taken over the past 15+ years online since I began publishing my mythicist articles, including and especially “The Origins of Christianity,” which began this entire endeavor, it’s good to see mainstream scholarship finally catching up and exposing the truth. Now, if professional scholars can just take that last little step onto the solid ground of recognizing the gospel story as fiction rather than history, we will all be better off.
A frail man sits in chains inside a dank, cold prison cell. He has escaped death before but now realizes that his execution is drawing near.
“I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come,” the man – the Apostle Paul – says in the Bible’s 2 Timothy. “I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith.”
The passage is one of the most dramatic scenes in the New Testament. Paul, the most prolific New Testament author, is saying goodbye from a Roman prison cell before being beheaded. His goodbye veers from loneliness to defiance and, finally, to joy.
There’s one just one problem – Paul didn’t write those words. In fact, virtually half the New Testament was written by impostors taking on the names of apostles like Paul. At least according to Bart D. Ehrman, a renowned biblical scholar, who makes the charges in his new book “Forged.”
“There were a lot of people in the ancient world who thought that lying could serve a greater good,” says Ehrman, an expert on ancient biblical manuscripts.In “Forged,” Ehrman claims that:
* At least 11 of the 27 New Testament books are forgeries.
* The New Testament books attributed to Jesus’ disciples could not have been written by them because they were illiterate.
* Many of the New Testament’s forgeries were manufactured by early Christian leaders trying to settle theological feuds.
Were Jesus’ disciples ‘illiterate peasants?’
Ehrman’s book, like many of his previous ones, is already generating backlash. Ben Witherington, a New Testament scholar, has written a lengthy online critique of “Forged.”…
Will the real Paul stand up? Ehrman reserves most of his scrutiny for the writings of Paul, which make up the bulk of the New Testament. He says that only about half of the New Testament letters attributed to Paul – 7 of 13 – were actually written by him.
Paul’s remaining books are forgeries, Ehrman says. His proof: inconsistencies in the language, choice of words and blatant contradiction in doctrine.
For example, Ehrman says the book of Ephesians doesn’t conform to Paul’s distinctive Greek writing style. He says Paul wrote in short, pointed sentences while Ephesians is full of long Greek sentences (the opening sentence of thanksgiving in Ephesians unfurls a sentence that winds through 12 verses, he says).
“There’s nothing wrong with extremely long sentences in Greek; it just isn’t the way Paul wrote. It’s like Mark Twain and William Faulkner; they both wrote correctly, but you would never mistake the one for the other,” Ehrman writes.
The scholar also points to a famous passage in 1 Corinthians in which Paul is recorded as saying that women should be “silent” in churches and that “if they wish to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home.”
Only three chapters earlier, in the same book, Paul is urging women who pray and prophesy in church to cover their heads with veils, Ehrman says: “If they were allowed to speak in chapter 11, how could they be told not to speak in chapter 14?”
Why people forged
Forgers often did their work because they were trying to settle early church disputes, Ehrman says. The early church was embroiled in conflict – people argued over the treatment of women, leadership and relations between masters and slaves, he says.
“There was competition among different groups of Christians about what to believe and each of these groups wanted to have authority to back up their views,” he says. “If you were a nobody, you wouldn’t sign your own name to your treatise. You would sign Peter or John.”
So people claiming to be Peter and John – and all sorts of people who claimed to know Jesus – went into publishing overdrive. Ehrman estimates that there were about 100 forgeries created in the name of Jesus’ inner-circle during the first four centuries of the church.
Witherington concedes that fabrications and forgeries floated around the earliest Christian communities….
Ehrman, of course, has another point of view. “Forged” will help people accept something that it took him a long time to accept, says the author, a former fundamentalist who is now an agnostic.
The New Testament wasn’t written by the finger of God, he says – it has human fingerprints all over its pages.
“I’m not saying people should throw it out or it’s not theologically fruitful,” Ehrman says. “I’m saying that by realizing it contains so many forgeries, it shows that it’s a very human book, down to the fact that some authors lied about who they were.”