Monday, March 28, 2011

Pseudepigrapha and the role of women

Forged: Writing in the Name of God--Why the Bible's Authors Are Not Who We Think They AreExcerpts of  Who Wrote The Bible and Why It Matters by Bart D. Ehrman, Huffington Post

Apart from the most rabid fundamentalists among us, nearly everyone admits that the Bible might contain errors ... But is it possible that the problem is worse than that -- that the Bible actually contains lies? ...
Good Christian scholars of the Bible...will tell you that the Bible is full of lies, even if they refuse to use the term. And here is the truth: Many of the books of the New Testament were written by people who lied about their identity, claiming to be a famous apostle -- Peter, Paul or James -- knowing full well they were someone else. In modern parlance, that is a lie, and a book written by someone who lies about his identity is a forgery.... a different term for this phenomenon and call such books "pseudepigrapha."... [were] finally accepted into the New Testament because the church fathers, centuries later, were convinced that [an apostle] wrote it....

The same is true of many of the letters allegedly written by Paul. Most scholars will tell you that whereas seven of the 13 letters that go under Paul's name are his, the other six are not. Their authors merely claimed to be Paul. ...

Whoever wrote the book of 1 Timothy claimed to be Paul. But he was lying about that [and] used Paul's name and authority to address a problem that he saw in the church. Women were speaking out, exercising authority and teaching men. That had to stop. The author told women to be silent and submissive, and reminded his readers about what happened the first time a woman was allowed to exercise authority over a man, in that little incident in the garden of Eden. No, the author argued, if women wanted to be saved, they were to have babies (1 Tim. 2:11-15).

Largely on the basis of this passage, the apostle Paul has been branded, by more liberation minded people of recent generations, as one of history's great misogynists. The problem, of course, is that Paul never said any such thing. And why does it matter? Because the passage is still used by church leaders today to oppress and silence women. Why are there no women priests in the Catholic Church? ... it is because Paul allegedly taught that women had to be silent, submissive and pregnant. Except that the person who taught this was not Paul, but someone lying about his identity so that his readers would think he was Paul. 

It may be one of the greatest ironies of the Christian scriptures that some of them insist on truth, while telling a lie. ... But we today can at least evaluate their claims and realize just how human, and fallible, they were. They were creatures of their time and place. And so too were their teachings, lies and all.

Bart D. Ehrman is the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and the New York Times bestselling author of 'Misquoting Jesus' and 'Jesus, Interrupted'. His latest book, 'Forged: Writing in the Name of God -- Why the Bible's Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are', is now available from HarperOne.

1 comment:

MainTour said...

All the more reason why LDS value a living prophet.