“Misquoting Jesus”, by Bart D. Ehrman – Review

Author Ehrman has taken the relatively dry topic of academic literary criticism, applied it to the Christian New Testament, and provided the results in an accessible format for the interested reader. He starts by explaining how a scholar engaged in literary criticism uses abductive reasoning to get at what the original text actually said (in Greek) versus what was changed over the years. He talks about the various ways scribes would modify the texts while being copied, whether intentional or not. He distinguishes between changes which were made to render the text more harmonious to the then-current practice and those which were simply mistakes made during the transcription process. In addition he explores, at a high level, examples where some of the known textual changes significantly impacted how Christian doctrine is currently perceived and understood.

I very much enjoyed Misquoting Jesus and Bart Ehrman’s scholarly approach to a very controversial topic, especially among Christians who believe the King James Bible is the inerrant Word of God. I was raised in the same tradition myself and am all too aware of the many problems with that point of view. He doesn’t bother with all of the contradictions in the current text, focusing instead on passages where key words or phrases were clearly changed from more definitive Greek manuscripts. Yes, the changes are significant. The book won’t change those minds who accept the KJV as inerrant on faith, but if you are evidence-driven I sincerely recommend this short book.

“No Tears for My Father”, by Viga Boland – Review

The author, Viga Boland, does something akin to carving herself open for the reader. In a matter-of-fact way, she reveals the gripping account of her father’s controlling criminal mental and sexual abuse which persisted into her early adult life. She makes sure the reader doesn’t get too far by accident, there are numerous warnings before the story begins in earnest. She graphically spares herself very little in the account. I hope the telling provided some modicum of catharsis for her and her loved ones. By the time you’ve read to the titular passage, you applaud a recovery which took more than four decades.

As a father of a grown daughter, who becomes more beloved as time passes, I cannot imagine the thought process of the author’s father. We start with ‘narcissist’, but quickly run out of diagnostic labels for a true monster who never really paid society’s price for such crimes. The book doesn’t really get us to “why”, but it does depict the “what”. Monsters like this are out there, we need to watch for those signs, as I suspect most victims of such abuse don’t make it through to the sunlight without help.

This is an important book. Not all books are meant for entertainment, sometimes they must be read regardless.