Bruce Metzger, a big shot in New Testament studies, is renowned for his meticulous research and comprehensive grasp of early Christian manuscripts. His work in textual criticism has significantly influenced the study of the Bible, earning him immense respect among his colleagues and students.
Enter Bart Ehrman, an impressive scholar in his own right, who had the privilege of being Metzger’s student. Ehrman absorbed his mentor’s expertise and adopted his meticulous approach to biblical research. However, as he embarked on his own scholarly journey, Ehrman started questioning the fundamental beliefs he grew up with, leading to a shift in his religious perspective that diverged from Metzger’s.
Ehrman’s bestseller, “Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why,” thrust him into the spotlight in the early 2000s. Ehrman famously approximates that the New Testament contains about 400,000 variations. He asserts that the number of variations among the manuscripts surpasses the total number of words in the New Testament.
Yet in Misquoting Jesus, Ehrman admits that no Christian doctrine is effected in his findings. But the weird thing is this quote is absent in both the earliest and the latest versions of the book. It resides within a specific edition that includes a Q&A section featuring Dr. Ehrman at the end. Here it is:
“Bruce Metzger is one of the great scholars of modern times, and I dedicated the book to him because he was both my inspiration for going into textual criticism and the person who trained me in the field. I have nothing but respect and admiration for him. And even though we may disagree on important religious questions – he is a firmly committed Christian and I am not – we are in complete agreement on a number of very important historical and textual questions. If he and I were put in a room and asked to hammer out a consensus statement on what we think the original text of the New Testament probably looked like, there would be very few points of disagreement – maybe one or two dozen places out of many thousands. The position I argue for in ‘Misquoting Jesus’ does not actually stand at odds with Prof. Metzger’s position that the essential Christian beliefs are not affected by textual variants in the manuscript tradition of the New Testament.”(Misquoting Jesus, p. 252)
Frequently, skeptics and Muslim apologists attempt to leverage Ehrman’s work to undermine our confidence in the textual transmission of the New Testament. However, it is crucial to recognize that these allegations are greatly exaggerated. If someone ever tries to intimidate you with such claims, simply direct them back to Ehrman.
Erik is the creative force behind the YouTube channel Testify, which is an educational channel built to help inspire people’s confidence in the text of the New Testament and the truth of the Christian faith.