SPIRITUALITY & RELIGION

Forgery and Counterforgery: The Use of Literary Deceit in Early Christian Polemics

. December 2012. 624p. 978-0-19992-803-3. 39.95.
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Many early Christian writers sought to increase the influence of their works by falsely attributing them to well-known figures (or to eyewitnesses of events). Ehrman (James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies, Univ. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why) examines a wide array of texts (including several canonical New Testament books) that make explicit or implicit false claims of authorship. He examines how these intentional deceptions were used to enhance arguments against contrary views, many of which were also based on forgeries. His treatment is scholarly and thorough, including detailed notes and frequent discussions of earlier and ongoing debates.
VERDICT This comprehensive study is a valuable addition to the field of scriptural literary criticism and will be very useful to researchers and lay readers in that field. It is both an insightful study of the use and usefulness of forgeries in polemics during the first four centuries of Christianity, and a near encyclopedic survey of the forged texts themselves.

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