Are Some Books of the Bible Forgeries?
Claims of forgery
There is always someone who makes the claim that many of the biblical books were forged. Each one making these claims have their own reasons for doing do so. The most obviously reason is that a scholar or regular person became disillusioned with the Bible and God and decided to forsake any belief they may have held.
One such person is Dr. Bart Ehrman. His book Forged came out many years ago but in the intermediary term the arguments for and against the Biblical books have not changed. I will be referencing his book as it contains the best arguments supporting the claims of forgery.
This article is just the beginning of a series on forgery and the Bible.
The definition of the term
In chapter 1 of his book and on page 31, Dr. Ehrman states his definition of the term forgery. He tries to keep the legality of the issue out of his definition so as to not cloud any issues or points he is trying to make. He says:
My definition of a forgery, then, is a writing that claims
to be written by someone (a known figure) who did not in fact
For this discussion, that is probably fine with one major exception. His definition is his alone and opens the door to the term being subjectively altered whenever someone does not like the real definition of the terms forgery or forged.
Keep in mind that those terms are more commonly associated with metal work or the work of a blacksmith. They also can be used for military advancement. Neither of those definitions fit the topic Dr. Ehrman is addressing in his book.
Nor are they the definitions anti-biblical books advocates use when a making their forgery claims. The best definition comes from this link- https://www.yourdictionary.com/forged and the words used by this dictionary remove any confusion about what topic is being addressed. It says:
That one word concisely evaluates the arguments of Dr. Ehrman, and others like him, simplifying it so everyone knows exactly what point he and they are making. Their claims simply state that many of the biblical books are fake.
There are other technical terms used
Scholars have other terms that they use to categorize the different books of the bible. You can find them in detail on pages 29 to 31 of his book. I will merely summarize their meaning:
#1. Orthonymous- actually written by the author named on the work
#2. Homonymous- written by someone who has the same name as another person
#3. Anonymous- no one is named as the author
#4. Pseudonymous- writing under a pen name
#5. Pseudepigraphy- claiming to be written by a famous person but was written by someone else. Sometimes we call this Ghost Writing
The last category also contains the option of wrongly attributed, where no one knows who authored it and give credit to the wrong person.
They sit in judgment of biblical books
Scholars throughout the ages love to cast judgment on works they do not agree with. The creation of the forgery argument allows them to sit in judgment of God’s word and declare which words are valid and which are not.
The Jesus Seminar does this and they use different colored marbles to cast their vote on which sayings in the gospels Jesus actually said and which ones were inserted by future editors. The number of people involved in the vote came to about 30 to 50 actual scholars and 100 to 200 non-scholars.
The same idea is created through the creation of those 5 different categories. Scholars can use those categories to construct their theories on different biblical books while hiding the fact that they think a majority of the Bible is fake.
So far, these scholars have at one time or another claimed that the Gospels, some of Paul’s letters, 2 Peter, Jude, Revelation and James were not written orthonymously but fell in one of the forgery categories. Lets also not forget the book of Acts, 1,2,& 3 John as well as the book of Hebrews were and are thought to be fakes.
What evidence do they use to draw these conclusions
This is the crux of the issue. Scholars do not have any real evidence to support their forgery claims when it comes to the biblical books. They do not even have circumstantial evidence. Their main argument is that some ancient authors confessed to writing fake works, or that the ancient libraries demanded origin manuscripts for their patrons.
Dr. Ehrman produces no real evidence that the biblical books were actually forged or faked. He does extrapolate secular or other religious authors motivations to different biblical works but other than that he has no credible or verifiable evidence proving his claims.
Nor does any other opponent to the true authorship of the biblical books. The 3 key forger’s methods documented by Dr. Ehrman, pgs. 41-43, do not present credible evidence supporting their biblical forgery claims. I summarize:
#1. The forger wrote in the original author’s style and used his vocabulary
#2. The forger would use what is called off the cuff remarks or verisimilitudes in his work. These personal comments were included to deceive the reader
#3. the forger claims to have found a hidden book and copied it down for everyone to read
Yet, none of these methods provide any clues supporting arguments against the veracity of the biblical books. They can only be inferred as no physical evidence exists that forgers wrote different books of the Bible.
Two questions undermine these claims
If Dr. Ehrman, and his forgery counterparts, actually were correct, we are left with 2 major questions. First, if there are forgeries in the Bible, why did God leave them there?
God has had ample time to produce the genuine works he had his writers pen. Yet no alternative books have ever been discovered that meet the ancient rules for inclusion in the biblical canons.
Where are the real words of God? Dr. Ehrman and others do not produce any and no archaeologist has uncovered any. So we can only conclude that he and they are only seeking to ruin people’s faith by undermining their trust in God’s word.
The second question that undermines their forgery claims, is why is it that only unbelieving scholars, etc., are making these discoveries? True christian scholars are not making these claims nor are they producing any ancient evidence to support such talk.
The claims come from those who do not accept the Bible as God’s word and reject Jesus as their savior. Even if these scholars call themselves Christians, their words prove otherwise.
Plus, there is no real reason for anyone to write fakes because the matter of the biblical canons were placed under strict rules. Dr. Metzger, in his interview in The case for Christ, stated that the biblical books were not put into the Bible because they were placed on an authoritative list.
They were included because the biblical books were already had authority and the ancient church recognized that authority and that no other work possessed it. True Christians, scholars included, still recognize that authority.
Some final words
The case for forgery does not have a strong foundation. It has no real physical evidence when it comes to biblical books and it ignores the fact that the real author of the Bible is God.
Human names do not need to be included because the men that penned the words were not writing their own views or materials. The Bible was not faked. The claims are made by those who have rejected the message of the Bible and seek to rewrite it to fit their own personal views.
We still have our salvation and hope but we need to humble ourselves and submit to its instructions, commands while learning from the Holy Spirit the truth of its content.
© 2019 David Thiessen