Forgery and Counter-forgery: The Use of Literary Deceit in Early Christian Polemics

Hardcover | November 20, 2012

byBart D. Ehrman

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"Arguably the most distinctive feature of the early Christian literature," writes Bart Ehrman, "is the degree to which it was forged." The Homilies and Recognitions of Clement; Paul's letters to and from Seneca; Gospels by Peter, Thomas, and Philip; Jesus' correspondence with Abgar, letters byPeter and Paul in the New Testament - all forgeries. To cite just a few examples.Forgery and Counter-forgery is the first comprehensive study of early Christian pseudepigrapha ever produced in English. In it, Ehrman argues that ancient critics - pagan, Jewish, and Christian - understood false authorial claims to be a form of literary deceit, and thus forgeries. Ehrman considersthe extent of the phenomenon, the "intention" and motivations of ancient Greek, Roman, and Jewish forgers, and reactions to their work once detected. He also assesses the criteria ancient critics applied to expose forgeries and the techniques forgers used to avoid detection. With the wider practices of the ancient world as backdrop, Ehrman then focuses on early Christian polemics, as various Christian authors forged documents in order to lend their ideas a veneer of authority in literary battles waged with pagans, Jews, and, most importantly, with one another ininternecine disputes over doctrine and practice. In some instances a forger directed his work against views found in another forgery, creating thereby a "counter-forgery." Ehrman's evaluation of polemical forgeries starts with those of the New Testament (nearly half of whose books make a falseauthorial claim) up through the Pseudo-Ignatian epistles and the Apostolic Constitutions at the end of the fourth century. Shining light on an important but overlooked feature of the early Christian world, Forgery and Counter-forgery explores the possible motivations of the deceivers who produced these writings, situating their practice within ancient Christian discourses on lying and deceit.

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"Arguably the most distinctive feature of the early Christian literature," writes Bart Ehrman, "is the degree to which it was forged." The Homilies and Recognitions of Clement; Paul's letters to and from Seneca; Gospels by Peter, Thomas, and Philip; Jesus' correspondence with Abgar, letters byPeter and Paul in the New Testament - all f...

Bart D. Ehrman is the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Widely recognized as one of the world's leading authorities on the New Testament and early Christianity, he has lectured at major universities throughout North America and has been featured on CNN, BBC, the History Channel, N...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:608 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.98 inPublished:November 20, 2012Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199928037

ISBN - 13:9780199928033

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments1. IntroductionPart One: Forgery in the Greco-Roman World2. Forgers, Critics, and Deceived Deceivers3. Terms and Taxonomies4. Forgery in Antiquity: Aspects of the Broader Phenomenon5. Forgery in Antiquity: Motives, Techniques, Intentions, Justifications, and Criteria of DetectionPart Two: Forgery in Early Christian Polemics6. Introduction to Forgery and Counter-forgery in Early Christian Polemics7. Early Pauline Forgeries Dealing with Eschatology8. Later Forgeries Dealing with Eschatology9. Forgeries in Support of Paul and His Authority10. Forgeries in Opposition to Paul and His Message11. Anti-Jewish Forgeries12. Forgeries involving Church Organization and Leadership13. Forgeries involving Debates over the Flesh14. Forgeries Arising from Later Theological Controversies15. Apologetic Forgeries16. Lies and Deception In the Cause of TruthBibliography