I read a book this week that I loved. If you are like me, you may have wondered why the Bible says "there is neither male nor female in Christ" in one part, and then that women should sit down and be quiet in church, saving any questions for their husbands later, in another. Or how a book written hundreds of years after Jesus, then copied and recopied thru the centuries, could remain accurate. If so, I have the book for you.
"Misquoting Jesus : The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why" by Bart D. Ehrman
Let me start by saying the author is seriously smart, and knows his subject. He has a number of degrees, spent his life studying the Bible and ancient literature, and learned the original languages so he could read the old manuscripts. Yet, the book he wrote is in... PLAIN ENGLISH. Nice, hey? Easy to understand, easy to read.
He starts by explaining how the manuscripts was copied by illiterate scribes, and how they changed it thru the years, both by accident or on purpose. One interesting fact is the original Greek manuscripts were written in all capital letters, with no spaces or punctuation. So if you were translating "GODISNOWHERE" do you write "God is now here" or "God is nowhere"?
It depends on the beliefs of the person doing the copying, hey?
One part that made me laugh dealt with Jerome's Latin (Vulgate) Bible. Even tho the translation is plagued with problems, it was the most common one used for a thousand years. The author states:
" Scholars throughout Europe- including Biblical scholars- had been accustomed for nearly a thousand years to thinking that Jerome's Vulgate was the Bible of the church (somewhat like some modern churches assume that the King James Version is the "true" Bible)."
Most interesting to me was the chapters on theological debates amongst the early Christians and how the scribes added (or deleted) parts of the manuscripts to support their views. One debate was on the role of women in the church-1 Corinthians 14 33-36, for example, was NOT written by Paul, and not part of the original text. It was added so women would "know their place". The author also explains clearly all the reasons why scholars have come to this decision.
Anyway, it is a fascinating book. I highly recommend it.