YCAS 2015 Profiles 1: Bart Ehrman

The 2015 York University Christian Apocrypha Symposium is just six weeks away. As the event approaches, I will be posting information about the presenters along with abstracts of their papers. Remember, if you register for the symposium, you will receive drafts of the papers in advance, thus enabling you to participate more fully in the discussions that follow. For registration information, visit the YCAS 2015 web site (HERE).

Ehrman headshotWe begin with Bart Ehrman, who has graciously accepted our invitation to deliver the symposium’s keynote address, which takes place the evening of September 25. Professor Ehrman is the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he has taught since 1988. Professor Ehrman has written or edited thirty books, including monographs, editions and translations, and textbooks. Five of his trade books have been New York Times Bestsellers: Misquoting Jesus; God’s Problem; Jesus Interrupted; How Jesus Became God, and Forged: Why the Bible’s Authors are Not Who We Think They Are. His books have been translated into twenty-seven languages.

One of Ehrman’s primary research foci over the past seven years has been forgery in the early Christian tradition. In addition to the trade book, he has published a major scholarly study of the phenomenon, Forgery and Counterforgery: The Use of Literary Deceit in Early Christian Polemics (New York: Oxford, 2013). Ehrman introduces his wide-ranging study with these words: “Arguably the most distinctive feature of the early Christian literature is the degree to which it was forged. Even though the early Christians were devoted to the truth– or so their writings consistently claimed – and even though “authoritative” literature played a virtually unparalleled role in their individual and communal lives, the orthonymous output of the early Christians was remarkably, even astonishingly, meager.”

Professor Ehrman’s work has been featured in Time, Newsweek, the New Yorker, the Washington Post and other print media, and he has appeared on NBC’s Dateline, CNN, The History Channel, National Geographic, the Discovery Channel, A&E, the BBC, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, the Colbert Report, Fresh Air with Terry Gross, the Diane Rehm Show, numerous NPR stations, and other top media outlets.

Abstract

“Apocryphal Forgeries: The Logic of Literary Deceit”

This paper will differentiate among the variegated forms of deceitful literary practices in Christian antiquity. Anonymous works wrongly attributed (by others) to well-known persons differ significantly from those whose authors explicitly claim to be someone other than who they were. Different still are works later redacted to make their final published form embody a false authorial claim. All such phenomena differ, in turn, from texts heavily interpolated by scribes intent on putting their own words on the pens of the original authors (falsifications); and from writings an author has “stolen” (using the ancient term) from the works of others (plagiarism); and from texts that embody wholesale invention of stories about the past (fabrications). The paper will address these, and related, practices of literary deceit and consider where, if anywhere, in each case, blame is to be assigned.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *