I am turning my attention now to look at Bart Ehrman's new book, Forged. I will do this in a series as I did with Rob Bell. However I want to let you know that Ben Witherington has solid reviews of both Bell and Ehrman on his site at:
This is a good blog for NT issues as well. So I am simply pointing out where another NT perspective can be found. Enjoy his interactions with these books.
Chapter 1 of Forged is about forgeries in the ancient world. There were lots of them. There were all sorts of reasons one wrote a forgery: to shame someone, to give hope, hope of gaining money from libraries, or to gain a hearing for views the author held but did not have the stature to make a case for. Ehrman goes through these examples well. He distinguishes between writings that are anonymous and so no deception is present because the author is not named; works where an author shares a similar first name with another and is falsely ascribed to the other person. Again no forgery is present there. He reserves the term pseudonymous for works that intentionally deceive about the identity of the author.
He also correctly notes that some of these works showed up in Jewish and Christian circles: the Letter of Aristeas, various apocalypses. the Gospel of Peter are but three such examples. He argues that forgers often argued not to follow forgers to put people of the track of their own forgery. Also true. Here, however, Ehrman gets ahead of himself suggesting 2 Thessalonians is such an example. One would think you establish a forgery is present before making the case for how forgers speak. Here he simply relies on the claims of many scholars about authorship and notes even if it is written by Paul, the letter in 2 Thessalonians 2:2 still mentions that a forgery about Paul exists, which also is a correct point about the verse. This first chapter simply introduces the subject and how it was viewed in the ancient world. The key claim Ehrman makes is that the ancients did not view such psuedonymous writing positively. Again this is correct.
So the first chapter is a nice, clear survey of the presence of such works in the ancient world and how they were seen. Not to much of controversy here. Ehrman has not really turned his attention to the New Testament yet. That is still to come.