top of page
Reliability of the Gospels
The Gospels as Credible Texts
(Part 1)

Jesus of Nazareth is one of the characters around which there are more controversial views, as to his historical existence and also to his deity. Some see him as a mythical figure invented by Jews to mislead the Jewish underprivileged mass in the first century; while other skeptical and non-skeptical researchers confirm its historical existence[1]. By the way, questioning the historical existence of Jesus of Nazareth goes back to something deeper: that of undermining the authenticity of the texts of the gospels in which we have more details than any other document on the life, the ministry and the deity of Christ. Now, as regards the proofs of the deity of Christ, the development of the evidence is found above all in the Gospels, although the epistles themselves also speak of the deity of Christ, as in 1 Corinthians 15 on the resurrection of Jesus[2]. So to speak, thinking first about the authenticity of the gospels is the first step to consider; for, Christ's perspective of Scripture, what it says about Him, which we aim to offer in a series of forthcoming texts, is amply detailed in these documents. The four gospels are the only documents in which the teachings and insight of Christ are recorded in detail. If the Gospels are not reliable documents, the very basis of what consolidates the fundamental teachings of Christianity can in no way stand. If they are mythical texts, this means that the epistles which corroborate the teachings of these texts are also false, and that, moreover, what is understood from the Old Testament writings concerning the prophecies about Jesus- Christ is totally fooled.

That said, it is imperative to first analyze the historical reliability of the gospels well before arguing about “Christ and Scripture”. In his text, “the Christ's view of Scripture”, John W. Wenham summarizes three positions regarding the historicity of the gospels. According to the first position, the gospels are considered historically reliable documents by the apostolic body and are thus received as such by the church fathers. The second position, having originated in the 19th century, approaches the gospels as both historical and non-historical. The third position treats them as theological documents, and regards them as products of the imagination of the early Christians. In this sense, they should be seen as documents that have more information about the early churches than about Jesus[3]. 

The latter is radically skeptical in the sense that there is no way to see historical information about Jesus. This perspective is widely shared by those who consider Jesus to be a mythical figure[4]; although it should be noted that some non-Christian scholars, who do not believe in the reliability of the gospels, support that Jesus of Nazareth existed historically and that there are external sources which confirm his real existence. This is the position, for example, of Bart Ehrman, one of the historians known internationally for his critical work on the Bible[5]. In fact, on the question of the historical existence of Jesus, extrabiblical evidence is significant and the majority of specialists who have investigated this question come to the conclusion that Christ did indeed exist historically[6]. But, with regard to the biblical texts themselves, this same Bart Ehrman rejects any possibility of reliability. It must be admitted that this author has an international influence in the field of biblical criticism. Today, those who oppose the truthfulness of Scripture rely on its works. In the following lines, we believe that it would be important, first of all, to present succinctly how he articulates his argument to demonstrate that the texts of the Gospels are not reliable, and in this same perspective, it will also be a question of presenting the criticisms sketched against Ehrman's thesis.

I- Bart Ehrman and the corruption-forgery of the gospels

Bart Ehrman wrote several texts including “Misquoting Jesus”[7] and another text titled “Forged”, which somehow took up certain theses, such as the problem of the corruption of biblical texts already developed in “Misquoting Jesus”, but From another angle. Well before considering the fundamental thesis presented in “Forged” about the Gospels, although in reality the text deals more broadly with the New Testament, it would be important to briefly present the main idea developed in his text “Misquoting Jesus”. At the beginning of the second paragraph of the introduction, the main objective of the book is explained as follows:

This book is about the old manuscripts of the New Testament and the differences found among them. It concerns the scribes who copied them and sometimes changed them...[8]
This work consists in showing that the biblical versions that we have at our disposal are copies of the copies which, therefore, do not reflect the exact content of the original Greek text. Among these available manuscripts, there are enormous differences which lead him to say that “there are more differences among the manuscripts than there are words in the New Testament[9]”. However, Ehrman, in this same book, was able to point out that these numerous differences between the manuscripts are immaterial and insignificant[10].

And, one of the problems posed in this book by Ehrman is the unprofessionalism of the scribes who copied the manuscripts, particularly during the first two centuries of the Christian church. These amateur scribes sometimes introduced intentional and unintentional changes; this is the reason why the manuscripts are filled with errors[11]. In the conclusion of his book, he argues that readers have at their disposal translated copies of copies of a biblical text that has been changed. The various Bible versions available today are based on texts that have been modified in several places. So to speak, one cannot know what the original text really says since it has been misplaced and the copies themselves are corrupted.

In approaching the Gospels, he emphasizes that they are not inspired texts of God, but products of the human spirit where each author offers his own perspective of the story concerning the life of Jesus. Knowing that the gospel of Mark would be the first written, the other three, having drawn on Mark, changed it to better suit their perspective. Apart from the changes introduced by the scribes as we have pointed out, there are changes introduced by the authors of the New Testament themselves[12].

To continue, in his other text, “forged”, he worked on how the practice of forging was common in antiquity[13]. This practice was known both among pagans and among Christians. Ehrman supports the hypothesis that the majority of New Testament texts were forged[14]. People wrote by assigning to their texts the names of people known to give an echo of authority to what they said. In writing about Jesus, people assign their text a name among followers of Jesus.[15] According to Ehrman, this has been a real problem among Christians. The latter virulently criticized this reprehensible practice. “The majority of church leaders did not appreciate the fabricated texts. But, there were many circulating[16]”. Not only did they deplore this practice, but they knew how to detect these forged texts as well. This practice, which Ehrman himself defines as “a writing that claims to be written by someone (a famous figure) who did not actually write it[17]”, was especially widespread, in the Christian environment , after the time of the apostles, beginning from the second century[18]. 

According to him, the Gospels are forged texts. But, this forgery, according to him, must be understood not necessarily as pseudepigraphic but as false attribution, that is to say that an author's name is attributed to these documents which were written anonymously [ 19]. In fact, in ancient times, writers used to write anonymously. Two reasons explain this. First, the writers did not want to reveal their names because those who received them knew them perfectly. According to Ehrman, this reason is mentioned for the Gospels.

Second, they wrote like this because it gave more authority to their storytelling. Regarding this second reason, referring to the gospel texts, he wrote the following: “if the gospel stories about Jesus are claimed by a particular author, then in a sense they seem to lose their universal applicability and appeal. . In this case, they are seen as a person's version of the story[20]”.

The author gives sustained attention to this second reason because of the universal implication of the narrations of the four gospels concerning the story of Jesus which are part of the continuation of the history of the people of God, explained in the Jewish Bible. [21]. To better support his approach, he explains that the Gospels were written anonymously with the aim of presenting Jesus in the continuation of the books of the Old Testament, which were themselves anonymous, by making Christ appear as the Messiah to succeed King David and deliver Israel, although the type of message that Jesus conveyed was not what the Jews were hoping for.

The gospel texts circulated for several decades without any name assigned to them according to him. According to the data supported, he argues that the need for naming the gospels stemmed from the circulation of many other gospels which the church fathers considered heretical. However, according to the author, the argument presented by the church fathers such as Papias and Iranius in the process of assigning names to the gospels were rumors[23].

Thus he presents the reasons for considering them as such. First, he asserts that everything Papias has argued to confirm that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are the true authors actually contradicts what we have in the four gospels currently available. For example, Matthew does not report a collection of what Jesus said, but that of his works and his experiences, in addition to the fact that this book was not written in Hebrew first but in Greek[24]. He goes on to say that there is no claim in these books proving that they were written by these authors. Further, he argues that the authors of these books did not write in the first person nor did they ever claim to have a personal connection with the events they relate or the characters they discuss.[25] After giving these reasons, he wrote the following: “the works are totally and inescapably anonymous. At the same time, the Christians had good reasons for assigning names to those books that the latter did not write[26]”. He also supported the thesis that there are certain fabricated stories in the Gospels, such as the miraculous birth of Jesus, the years of Jesus and his family in Egypt, to name a few.[27] Among other things, he argues that there was also the practice of falsification. “It happens every time someone copies by hand a text from an author, he alters it in some way, omitting something, adding something or precisely changing the wording[28]”. To this Ehrman adds the problem of plagiarism which he says was a common practice in antiquity, which seems to be evident when comparing the Synoptic Gospels.[29]

II- Criticisms of Ehrman's thesis 

We have just seen the main ideas developed by Bart Ehrman on the question of the reliability of the Bible. Ehrman's thesis could be summarized as follows: what we have today as Scripture is not the original document; it is only the copies of the copies of several centuries with enormous differences between them due to errors of the copyists. Moreover, these copies, according to him, are corrupted, forged and modified. In reality, what is behind his whole thesis, as he points out himself, is to show that it is not possible to cover the original text through these copies. However, this thesis has raised a lot of criticism in the middle of evangelical researchers, some of which will be taken into account in the following points.

has. Contradictions in the Writings of Bart Ehrman 

First of all, it should be noted that, as certain as he seems in asserting the corruption of the manuscripts by demonstrating the variants existing among those available today, Ehrman shows himself to be more skeptical than scientific with regard to the Bible. It is more in the angle of possibility, but in the pole of certainty. In this same perspective, Daniel Wallace's criticism of his thesis is important to take into account. Noting Ehrman's severe skepticism, he believes that the latter contradicts himself in other texts he had already published on the same subject. Wallace wrote:
Normally, Ehrman in a clear and forceful style punctuates his writings in a provocative line with a spirit of good measure. I must confess, however, that his misquoting Jesus left me more perplexed than ever. I wasn't exactly sure what he was saying. By reading in one direction, the book opposes what he was writing elsewhere. Reading it another way, it was hardly controversial. And, certainly, it is not that kind of work that could be a star product in the New York Times Bestseller list [30]. 
Wallace becomes clearer by showing that if Ehrman pleads, on the one hand, in favor of the impossibility of covering the original text, on the other hand, he appears clearly in favor of the covering of the original text[31]. Noting this fact, after pointing out some contradictions in his writings, Wallace goes on to write:
So you can see my dilemma. I'm not sure what Ehrman believes. Is the task accomplished? Have we overwritten the words used in the original text? Or should we be hyperskeptical about the whole company? It seems that Ehrman is more skeptical in the public arena than among fellow academics when he speaks.[32]
This leads to say that there is a problem of double talk identified in his remarks. There is confusion that casts doubt on the scientific veracity he claims to put forward to deconstruct the reliability of the biblical text we have today.

It is in a way the same problem which is also posed in his thesis exposed in his book on the forge. While he shows, on the one hand, that blacksmithing was a common practice in antiquity, including in Christian communities, he affirms, on the other hand, that Christians not only denounced this practice of lying and deception, but they used to discover the forged texts. This is why texts like the Gospel of Peter, the Gospel of Thomas and that of Mary of Magdalene had been rejected as texts forged by the fathers of the church[33].

That said, the church fathers were quite vigilant and able to distinguish inspired from uninspired texts. In other words, they were able to tell the true from the false, and they could clearly identify the true authors of the inspired texts, even though these texts were practically anonymous at first. That said, these church fathers had the methods and techniques to study the authenticity of the texts. On this same basis, one can give credibility or legitimacy to the four gospels included in the biblical canon.

         b. On the Variants of Biblical Manuscripts 

Bart Ehrman takes seriously the amount of variation between manuscripts to show that these copies, being copies of copies, are corrupted, and that from these modified copies, changed by scribes, it is not possible to recover the original text . However, this same Ehrman recognizes that these differences are mostly immaterial and insignificant. Quite simply, they show that the scribes could make spelling errors like any ordinary mortal[34].

Two elements should be considered in this approach. First, the way he presented the scribes showed that not all the scribes were professionals, that their work was not carried out with care and that there was no exercise of control over their work. . At this level, it must be conceded to him that not all the scribes who copied the manuscripts were professionals. However, this does not mean that the simple Christians who copied the manuscripts for themselves and for their community did not do so with care. They did this work as a copyist with the idea of reproducing the text for reading by as many people as possible within their community. Furthermore, it should be noted that these simple Christians who copied the biblical texts believed they had the word of God at their disposal, which implies that they approached them in fear of not misrepresenting what God himself said. That said, for those who are believers, approaching a text that they believe they are receiving from the God they serve requires enormous respect on their part, which they sometimes even express in their posture in relation to this message that they have the burden of multiplying for the benefit of his community. So to speak, these Christian copyists, most of whom were not professionals, did their work as copyists with control.  If it is true that these people were not all professionals in that the data shows some spelling and omission errors, but their concern was not to tamper with the text. Among other things, these errors do not disturb or distort the meaning of the text itself.

Moreover, in arguing that the scribes were not professionals, it is necessary to underline two things implied by this remark. First, Ehrman underestimates the valuable works of the scribes. Secondly, he seems to ignore that with the development of Christianity, there were also professional scribes who rigorously copied manuscripts. It is in a way Ben Witherington's criticism of Erhman, the idea of which is taken up by Dewayne Bryant in the following lines: “Forged includes a discussion of the production of the old documents, but Witherington notes that Ehrman seems not to give enough reflections on the roles and responsibilities of scribes in the ancient world. In other words, he is concerned with the texts, but not with how and by whom these texts were produced”[35].  Ben Witherington himself could address Ehrman's approach , in his text Forged, on the work of the Scribes by writing the following: “I mean from the beginning and at first sight that in the book there appear gaps, more precisely on the failure of this study, after having scrutinized in depth the practices of the ancient scribes and their role in producing documents in ancient Israel”[36]. On this question of the role of scribes as copyists, Holden and Geisler also provide very important information[37].

Next, it would be important to relate the number of variants to the number of manuscripts in the sense that, according to Wallace, the number of variants depends on the number of manuscripts. The New Testament has more manuscripts than any other ancient text. There are approximately 20,000 manuscripts. Some have even pointed out that the number is as high as 25,000. “To talk about the number of variants without also talking about the number of manuscripts is simply sensationalism[38]”. For their part, Joseph M. Holden and Norman Geisler have even questioned the method of calculating errors used by Bart Ehrman. They believe that his method is fallacious. Moreover, they believe, not all variations are considered errors. Moreover, they show that if we apply the same method of calculating errors for his book “Misquoting Jesus”, the number will rise to 1.6 million errors when we multiply the 16 errors found in his text by the sale of 100,000 copies of the first edition of his book during the first 3 months[39]. So to speak, according to these authors, Ehrman exaggerates when he argues that there are 200,000 errors in the manuscripts. 

Furthermore, it would be important to dwell a little on the nature of these variants. As already pointed out above, even Ehrman recognizes that the majority of these variants are insignificant. Along the same lines, Wallace analyzes the nature of these variants. From the outset, he advances: “among the hundreds of thousands of textual variations of the manuscripts of the New Testament, the vast majority are different spellings which do not interfere with the meaning of the text”[40]. In studying the types of differences between the copies, Wallace subcategorizes these variants into four.

          _cc781905-5cde-3194 -bb3b-136bad5cf58d_1. The first category of variants concerns different spellings and nonsense errors due to fatigue, inattention and sometimes lack of expertise of the scribes in the Greek language[41]._cc781905-5cde-3194-bb3b- 136bad5cf58d_

         _cc781905-5cde-3194- bb3b-136bad5cf58d_ 2. The second category takes into account different spellings related to synonymy which, in fact, does not affect the translation in the sense that they do not alter the understanding of the translated text. Among others, there is a type of variation that arises from the transposition from Greek to English[42] or French. In fact, this is due to the lexical richness of Greek which is not found in the other languages mentioned above. This language, thanks to its prefixes, suffixes, infixes, can express the same idea or reality by offering a hundred possibilities. For example, Wallace pointed out that there are sixteen different ways to say in Greek "Jesus loves John". These different verbs which, in Greek, can take the place of "to love", will have a single translation in French: Jesus loves John. 

        3. La troisième catégorie de variantes à rapport à des formulations significatives, but which are not viable. This type of variation concerns some New Testament manuscripts. 

         4. And finally, the last category of variants emphasizes meaningful and viable formulations. These are variations that tend to affect the meaning of the text to some degree.

The last category of variants, important as it is in terms of the change it can introduce to the meaning of the text, is less than one percent among extant manuscripts. It is therefore crucial to emphasize that these variations in no way alter the fundamental doctrines of the Bible. Even Ehrman recognizes this fundamental truth. However, Ehrman relies on these elements to capitalize on the thesis that the current biblical text was forged and corrupted. The manuscripts of the biblical text are the most reliable of all the other ancient philosophical texts taught in college and quoted by atheist writers. It is also important to point out that, despite the fact that the biblical text has more manuscripts than any other ancient text handed down to us today such as Plato, Socrates... However, it is the only text whose reliability is indisputable.

vs. About the Forgery Hypothesis and Manuscripts Changed by Orthodox Scribes 

Ehrman in the text “Forged” emphasizes the fabrication of the Gospels of Matthew and Luke from the text of Mark. He supports the thesis that Matthew and Luke are falsified texts from the text of Mark, assuming that they are basically corrupt. Thus, the scribes only followed in the footsteps of Matthew and Luke. Note that there is a problem with Ehrman's original idea. It is likely that the text of Mark would be the first of the written gospels and that Matthew and Luke had knowledge of this text and even drew on it; however, it is evident that each Gospel writer did not set the same goal and, from this point of view, does not adopt the same perspective of Scripture. This becomes evident when one reads the texts of the Gospels. While it is likely and even true that Matthew and Luke drew material from Mark's text, that does not imply that Matthew and Luke's perspectives are faked versions of Mark's. Wallace points out in this connection, "Matthew has a style of writing as well as certain motives which are different from those of Luke. Each evangelist presents a clear tendency in his presentation of the gospel[44]". So to speak, it seems unlikely to say that the scribes proceeded in the same way as the evangelists.

As for the scribes, it has already been pointed out that some heretics intentionally falsified certain passages of Scripture. However, it was also pointed out that the church fathers had harshly criticized this fallacious undertaking. That said, examining the preservation of the reliability of the Bible was a primary concern for them. We can observe with Miller that these people already had a skill allowing them to distinguish between two types of variations, that related to negligence and that made intentionally[45]. Today, with the advancement of textual criticism, it is more efficient to spot intentional and unintentional errors in manuscripts. While it may be true, as Ehrman has pointed out, that some orthodox scribes intentionally introduced changes in an attempt to harmonize the Gospels with a Christocentric perspective, it is nonetheless crucial to point out that these elements have been identified and put in light from a critique from within. This does not prevent him from betting on these variations to establish his work.

And what is more, certain errors of the orthodox scribes that Ehrman qualifies as intentional are in reality, according to analyzes of the texts of the Gospels, the opposite. For example, in his analysis of Matthew 24:36 as one of the texts taken to explain the corruption of the New Testament by the Orthodox scribes, Miller analyzes both this passage and Mark 13:32 to show that the omission of " nor the Son of Man" is not an intentional omission of the scribes because it hinders the divinity of Christ as explained by Ehrman. If so, those orthodox would have removed that part of the sentence in Mark's text as well. Now it is proved that in the manuscripts of Mark this omission is absent[46]. As long as we cannot ignore these differences observed at the level of the manuscripts, we cannot capitalize on them either when the work on the comparison of the manuscripts has already taken them into account by demonstrating that these errors have already been criticized as heretical. for the most part and for others unintentional errors. Being less than one percent, these variations in no way affect the credibility of the biblical text. Holden and Geisler sum it up nicely as follows:

Scholars have estimated that the New Testament was copied with over 99 percent accuracy. The two experts on 19th century British manuscripts, Westcott and Hort, estimated that only one-sixth of the variants represent "trivialities", which gave the accuracy of the copies an estimate of 98.33 percent. Ezra Abbots figures report that the text is 99.75 percent pure. The great scholar of New Testament Greek, AT Roberstson, said that “the real concern is about a thousandth part of the whole text,” which statement could mean that the text is 99.9 percent correct[47].

d. When Ehrman relies on ancient texts to criticize the Bible 

​ It seems that Bart Ehrman's concern is not the criticism of all the manuscripts of the ancient world. His skepticism is more directed towards biblical manuscripts. Someone will perhaps say to me that it is obvious because it is his field of study. This would be partly true. However, if the argument is intended to show that falsification, rigging was a common practice in the ancient world, it would be fair to say that all texts of the time were subject to the same fate. However, it happens that the biblical manuscripts undergo more severely the criticisms of Ehrman than the other contemporary manuscripts of the latter, and those which existed before the New Testament. To open a breach, this bias on the side of the skeptics is clearly shown in their writings. Their attitude toward the Bible seems to be, somehow, more personal than scientific. They approach Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, Diogenes with more ease in terms of credibility with regard to the Bible, as if these texts reached them yesterday. As for the biblical text, it is so old that it is necessary to reject all its credibility.

Some specialists in textual criticism, interested in comparative studies, show that not only are there more manuscripts of the biblical text than those of Plato, Illiad, etc., but above all it is revealed that the biblical text is more reliable than the latter[48]. Beyond this observation, according to the studies of paleographers who were moreover considered as historians, it happens that in the case of New Testament manuscripts, the distance between the existence of the original text, the time of its multiplication and of its expansion was not large enough. According to the data provided by the latter, Holden and Geisler go further to say that “the vast majority of the texts of the New Testament were preserved through documents less than 200 years old compared to the original text[49]”. We come to understand the importance of what we are explaining now when we proceed in the same way for the other texts of the ancient world. In this sense, it becomes imperative to reproduce here what Holden and Geisler say for a better understanding. Speaking of the distance between the original text of the Bible and the production of the manuscripts, in comparison with the other ancient texts, they write: “this discovery is remarkable compared to the situation of the other ancient books, which date from 500 to 1500 years later. the original text (eg copies of Homer, Plato, Aristotle or Livy)[50]”.

Despite the fact that the distance between the existence of the autograph of these classic texts and their manuscripts is vastly greater than that of the biblical text, it turns out that these skeptics give more credibility to the latter not on the basis of serious study, but because they reject the Bible as a religious document. It would seem that Ehrman finds himself in this same perspective. Moreover, what seems confusing is that he relies on texts from the ancient world contemporaneous with the manuscripts of the biblical text to criticize the forging of the text of the New Testament. In his text “Forged”, to establish the thesis of the forgery, he refers to Dionysious, Heraclides, Xenophon, Aristeas, Pausanias, to name a few, with confidence. One has the impression that these documents to which he refers were exempt from the practices which he described as common, namely to write a text by pasting on it the name of someone else. It only implies that quoting from one contemporary document to criticize another is a problem. However, the question to be asked is on what basis one grants credibility to the document to which one refers in order to discredit the other. However, the text of the New Testament is proven to be more credible when we study the variants in the manuscripts of any other ancient text.

To conclude this part of our study, it is important to emphasize that the works of the critics against the four gospels have not succeeded in discrediting their content. Contrary to what the skeptical voices want to prove, it turns out that the places mentioned, the characters in question in the stories are historically and archaeologically proven. What is supported is important so that we take seriously the content of the message conveyed in these stories. This question of forging that Bart Ehrman speaks of does not hold. He thought he could prove it, but in reality, he came up with hypotheses that remain invalidated from a historical and archaeological point of view. The problems with the manuscripts which he raised to discredit the veracity of the accounts of the Gospels in no way affect their content. It remains true that the four Gospels are reliable narrative texts that Christians should use without any concern in the exercise of their faith.

Vice President of Standing 4 Christ Ministry

Writer, researcher

*Quotes are in English. Translations from English to French are by the author.

[1] I had addressed this question in a previously published article. See, Mauley Colas, “Extrabiblical Evidence for the Life and Crucifixion of Jesus. Available online at Standing 4 Christ Ministry,

[2] The problem of historians, especially modern historians, is above all linked to the question of miracles. This, they argue, cannot be proven historically. According to this perspective, History as a scientific discipline cannot be interested in miracles. This perspective is part of the Greek historiographical tradition which was hardly interested in this aspect.

[3] John W. Wenham, Christ's view of Scripture, in Norman L. Geisler (Sld), Inerrancy, Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1980, pp.3-4.

[4] This position is supported, for example, by G. A Wells and Michel Onfray.

[5] Did Jesus exist? The historical argument for Jesus of Nazareth, NY: HarperOne, 2012
Gary Habermas had, long before Ehrman, devoted much time to analyzing archaeological and historical sources, such as the works of Josephus, Tacitus, Suetonius, Thallus, Emperor Trajan, Emperor Hadrian, which largely supported the historical existence of Jesus of Nazareth. . Chapters 8 and 9 provide relevant information. The historical Jesus: Ancient Evidence for the life of Christ, Missouri: College press publishing company, 2011 (1996).

[6] Bart Ehrman, Op.Cit. p.12.

[7] Bart Ehrman, Misquoting Jesus: the story behind who changed the Bible and Why, New York: HarperOne, 2005

[8] Bart Ehrman, Misquoting… Op.cit. p.1

[9] Bart Ehrman, Misquoting… Op.Cit. 10.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Bart Ehrman, Misquoting… Op. Cit. p.57

[12] Here is a long paragraph that neatly summarizes Ehrman's position: “On one level, perhaps ironically, the scribes changed scripture far less radically than the New Testament writers themselves. When Luke prepares his gospel, using Mark as a source, it was not simply his intention to copy Mark for posterity. He planned to alter Mark's text in light of other traditions he had read and heard about Jesus. The later scribes who produced our manuscripts, on the other hand, were more interested in recopying the texts they had in front of them. The latter, on the whole, did not sincerely see themselves as authors who were writing new books; they were scribes who reproduced old books. The changes they introduced, or at least the intentional ones, were to improve the text. These changes possibly were introduced by these scribes because they were convinced that the scribes before them were making spelling errors in the text. Overall, their intention was to keep the tradition, but not to change it. ”, In Misquoting, Op.cit, p.215.

[13] Bart Ehrman, Forged, New York: HarperOne, 2011.

[14] Bart Ehrman, Op.Cit. p.8.

[15] According to Ehrman: “many early Christians writings are pseudonymous, going under a false name”, Op.cit. p9.

[16] Ehrman, Op.cit.p.18.

[17]Ehrman, Op. Cit, 25. Several reasons, according to Ehrman, explain this practice: 1-economic reason; 2-  political and military reasons; 3-Discredit someone;4-  religious reasons; 5- to give hope to readers. For this latter reason he refers to the Old Testament Book of Daniel and the New Testament Revelation., Op. Cit. p.25.

[18]Ehrman, Op.Cit.p.19.

[19] Ehrman, Op. Cit, p. 221.

[20]Ehrman, Op.Cit. p.223

[21] Ehrman, Op. Cit. p224

[22] Ehrman wrote that the Gospels were definitively named Matthew, Mark, Luke and John about a century after they were put into circulation”. In Erhman, Op.cit., p.225.

[23]Ehrman, Op.Cit.  p.226.

[24] Ehrman, Op.Cit. p.227.

[25] Ehrman, Op.Cit. p.228.

[26] Ehrman, Ibid.

[27] Ehrman, Op.Cit. 239.

[28] Ehrman, Op.Cit.240.

[29] Ehrman, Op.Cit. 248.

[30] Daniel Wallace, “Lost in Transmission: How badly did the Scribes corrupt the New Testament text?”, in Daniel Wallace (ed.), Revisiting the corruption of the New Testament, Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2011, P.20 .

[31] Daniel Wallace, Op.Cit.pp.24-25

[32] Daniel Wallace, Op.Cit. p.25

[33] Forged, Op.Cit. p.17

[34] Misquoting…Loc.Cit.

[35] Dewayne Bryant, Bart Ehrman's Forged: Next Verse Same as the First, in Apologetic press, viewed online at -3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58d_

[36]Ben Witherington, Forged–Bart Ehrman's new salvo—the introduction, accessed online at the-introduction-2/

[37] Holden and Geisler, Op.Cit. Pp99-102.

[38] Wallace, Op.Cit. p.27

[39]  The popular Handbook of the Archeology and the Bible, Eugene: Harvest House Publishers, 2013, pp. 127-128.

[40] Wallace, Op.Cit. p.40

[41] Wallace, Op. Cit, p.41

[42] Wallace, Ibid  

[43] Wallace, Op.Cit., p.55

[44] Wallace, Op,Cit, p 50

[45] Philip M. Miller, “The least orthodox reading is to be preferred: A New Canon for New Testament textual criticism?”, in Daniel Wallace (ed.), Revisiting the corruption of the New Testament, Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2011, p.60.

[46] Miller, Op.Cit., p70. It must be said that Miller devotes a long time to analyzing the methodology used by Erhman of certain biblical passages that he used to support his thesis of corruption by the orthodox scribes. We only took into consideration the passage from Matthew illustrated by Miller to show the limit of Erhman's analysis. For more details, the reader can refer to the article by Miller which has been given as a reference.

[47]Holden and Geisler, Op.Cit., 127.

[48] Holden and Geisler, Op.Cit.p127

[49] Holden and Geisler, Op.Cit., 103

Bibliographic references

Bart Ehrman, Did Jesus exist? The historical argument for Jesus of Nazareth, NY: HarperOne, 2012

Bart Ehrman, Forged, New York: HarperOne, 2011.

Bart Ehrman, Misquoting Jesus: the story behind who changed the Bible and Why, New York: HarperOne, 2005

Ben Witherington, Forged–Bart Ehrman's new salvo—the introduction, viewed online at -2/

Daniel Wallace, “Lost in Transmission: How badly did the Scribes corrupt the New Testament text?”, in Daniel Wallace (ed.), Revisiting the corruption of the New Testament, Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2011, pp.19-59.

Dewayne Bryant,  Bart Ehrman's Forged: Next Verse Same as the First, in Apologetic press, viewed online at =1782. 

Gary Habermas, The historical Jesus: Ancient Evidence for the life of Christ, Missouri: College press publishing company, 2011 (1996).

Joseph M. Holden and Norman Geisler, The popular Handbook of the Archeology and the Bible, Eugene: Harvest House Publishers, 2013

John W. Wenham, Christ's view of Scripture, in Norman L. Geisler (Sld), Inerrancy, Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1980

Philip M. Miller, “The least orthodox reading is to be preferred: a New Canon for New Testament textual criticism?”, in Daniel Wallace (ed.), Revisiting the corruption of the New Testament, Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2011, pp57 -90.

Wallace (ed.), Revisiting the corruption of the New Testament, Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2011

William Lane Craig and Bart D. Ehrman Debate the Question "Is There Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus?",  Held at College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, Massachusetts on March 28, 2006 ( The full transcript of this debate is available online at:  For audiovisual (found on youtube: https:/ /



bottom of page