Misquoting Truth: A Guide to the Fallacies of Bart Ehrman's "Misquoting Jesus", By Timothy Paul Jones
Misquoting Truth
  • Length: 176 pages
  • Published: May 23, 2007
  • Imprint: IVP
  • Item Code: 3447
  • ISBN: 9780830834471

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"What good does it do to say that the words [of the Bible] are inspired by God if most people have absolutely no access to these words, but only to more or less clumsy renderings of these words into a language? . . . How does it help us to say that the Bible is the inerrant word of God if in fact we don't have the words that God inerrantly inspired? . . . We have only error-ridden copies, and the vast majority of these are centuries removed from the originals."

So contends Bart D. Ehrman in his bestselling Misquoting Jesus. If altogether true, we have little reason to put our confidence in Scripture. Add to this Ehrman's contention that what we read in the New Testament represents the winners' version of events, twisted to suit their own purposes and not at all a faithful recounting of what really happened, and the case for skepticism and unbelief gives every appearance of being on solid footing.

But are things really so bad off? Were the New Testament documents widely distorted by copyists? Can we in fact have no idea what was in the originals? Do we have no hope of knowing what eyewitnesses said and thought? Are other documents left out of the New Testament better sources for understanding early Christianity? While readily conceding that Ehrman has many of his facts straight, pastor and researcher Timothy Paul Jones argues that Ehrman is far too quick to jump to false and unnecessary conclusions.

In clear, straightforward prose, Jones explores and explains the ins and outs of copying the New Testament, why lost Christianities were lost, and why the Christian message still rings true today.

"In recent years, Christians have been assailed by a book genre that is increasingly critical of Christian beliefs. Misquoting Truth reminds us that this critical alarm is often sounded in bombastic ways that seldom present the whole picture. Timothy Jones explains why there is no new information in Bart Ehrman's Misquoting Jesus that threatens what Christians believe about the New Testament text. Further, he moves the discussion to a shelf where it is accessible to everyone. Numerous practical teaching pointers help the reader to digest the material. The result is a well-integrated volume that accomplishes what few books do: disarming the critics while at the same time connecting with a large range of readers. Bravo, InterVarsity, for publishing yet another excellent volume that communicates crucial truth to this generation!"

Gary R. Habermas, Distinguished Research Professor and Chair, Department of Philosophy and Theology, Liberty University; author of The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus

"It is an unfortunate thing when a scholar uses a technical discipline such as textual criticism to browbeat an unsuspecting public. Timothy Jones's evenhanded approach challenges the overblown claims of Ehrman's sensationalized account of the textual history of the New Testament. Jones agrees with Ehrman at many basic points, but repeatedly challenges his conclusion that the New Testament is untrustworthy, effectively countering each of Ehrman's revisionist claims. In a most readable treatment Jones presents anew the case for the trustworthiness of the New Testament. "There was a time when F. F. Bruce's little book on the reliability of the New Testament documents was enough. Now new challenges to the integrity of the New Testament have arisen. Timothy Jones rises to meet these new challenges by combining this refutation of Bart Ehrman's book Misquoting Jesus with a thorough primer on New Testament textual criticism. Both authors work with the same evidence and share a good deal of common ground, but they arrive at surprisingly different conclusions. In the process of challenging the conclusions of Bart Ehrman's popular book, Jones investigates several alleged 'significant changes' in the text and finds that none of them requires readers to rethink an essential belief about Jesus or to doubt the historical integrity of the New Testament. "This book is classic apologetics yet without any hint of rancor. Jones writes in a readable conversational style, combining pastoral concern with excellent activities for beginning students as well as entertaining anecdotes and illustrations. The book is autobiographical to a high degree, which increases its personal appeal.

"Written with troubled believers in mind, Jones begins by borrowing a generous definition of inerrancy--inerrancy means simply that the Bible tells the truth--a definition which, he says, gives plenty of room for the many extant textual variants. In the end, Timothy Jones suggests that Ehrman lost his faith not because he 'peered so deeply into the origins of Christian faith,' but because he gained his understanding of Christian faith in a fundamentalist evangelical context that allowed little (if any) space for questions, variations or rough edges. Jones does not shy away from these 'rough edges,' but he presents a compelling case that the New Testament text as we have it is a reliable witness to the teachings of Jesus and of the first Christians."

T. Scott Caulley, D.Theol., Director of the Institute for the Study of Christian Origins, University of Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany

"The most radical wing of New Testament scholarship has gotten a disproportionate amount of press in recent years. As representative as any of this trend today is Bart Ehrman, whose books on textual criticism and noncanonical Gospels make it sound as if we have little idea what the New Testament authors originally wrote or little reason to believe that theirs was an accurate, and certainly the oldest, rendition of the life of Jesus and the gospel message. Timothy Jones sets the record straight in this courteous but direct critique of charges about misquoting Jesus and alternate or lost Christianities. Abreast of all the latest and best scholarship, he nevertheless writes in a straightforward, easy-to-read style that any thoughtful layperson can handle. An absolute must-read for anyone confused or taken in by the revisionist biblical historians of our day."

Craig L. Blomberg, Distinguished Professor of New Testament, Denver Seminary

"In Misquoting Truth, Timothy Paul Jones gives Bart Ehrman's Misquoting Jesus and Lost Christianities the debunking they deserve. Jones exposes the bias and faulty logic that surface time and again in these highly publicized books. Misquoting Truth provides a much needed antidote and will serve students and Christian leaders very well. I recommend this book enthusiastically."

Craig A. Evans, Payzant Distinguished Professor, Acadia Divinity College, and author of Fabricating Jesus: How Modern Scholars Distort the Gospels (InterVarsity Press)

"In Misquoting Truth, Timothy Paul Jones has written an informative, creative book that needs to be read by all serious, thinking Christians. It is as informative as it is entertaining, and it will provide a secure foundation for continuing to trust in the accuracy of God's Word. It answers the basic criticisms leveled at the New Testament by Dr. Bart Ehrman, while at the same time providing a proper understanding of the basics of textual criticism. Jones does not skirt the difficult issues, but deals with them head-on, providing careful and balanced answers. I highly recommend this book to those seeking to find answers to the question, 'Can the Word of God be trusted?' "

Paul D. Wegner, Ph.D., Phoenix Seminary

"Timothy Paul Jones turns the tables on Bart Ehrman's overstated Misquoting Jesus. He applies to Ehrman the same probing logic that Ehrman claims to apply to the New Testament evidence. The evidence turns out to be more believable than Ehrman's strained interpretations of it. It is not the New Testament writers or copyists who depart from history, Jones shows, but a few scholars who invest too much faith in their skepticism. Jones not only checks that skepticism: along the way he equips readers to make their own informed choices about authorship, scribal transmission, and church selection (or rejection) of key New Testament passages and documents--and many writings from outside the New Testament as well. This is a valuable primer for orientation in a discussion that cannot be ignored."

Robert Yarbrough, Associate Professor of New Testament and New Testament Department Chair, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

"Timothy Paul Jones's writings are always engaging, compelling and often humorous. He captivates me with everything he writes. When I read his writing, I have many 'Aha!' or 'I wish I'd thought of that' moments. This isn't the first great book that Timothy's written, and it won't be the last. Make certain you don't miss it!"

James L. Garlow, Ph.D., coauthor of the bestselling The Da Vinci Codebreaker and Cracking Da Vinci's Code

"Jones clearly refutes in a Christlike manner the claims of Misquoting Jesus. A must-read for those who love to give an answer for the faith!"

Lief Moi, Mars Hill Church Campus Pastor, Seattle, Washington

"Dr. Jones has written a first-rate book on an essential and timely subject. Both specialists and nonspecialists will benefit from his honest, polite and clearly explained treatment of issues concerning the reliability of the New Testament text and its authorship. In a day of confusion among non-Christians and Christians alike, this is a must-read."

Peter Jones, Scholar-in-Residence, Westminster Seminary California, and author of Stolen Identity: The Conspiracy to Reinvent Jesus

"Dr. Jones reminds us that Christians should never be afraid of open debate. With tradition, experience, reason and Scripture as our final measure we can put all ideas on the table with confidence that in the end we will embrace what is true and discard what is false."

Everett Piper, Ph.D., President, Oklahoma Wesleyan University

"Among many antifaith books you may find Bart Ehrman's Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why. This is a broadside attack upon the Scriptures, and Christians need to be able to rebut it. Thankfully, Dr. Timothy Paul Jones has written Misquoting Truth, a scholarly and gracious (but firm) rebuttal to Dr. Ehrman."

D. James Kennedy, Ph.D., Senior Minister, Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church

"This volume is well-written in an accessible tone and style."

Chris Keith, SCJ, Spring 2009

". . .a strong defence against claims from a fellow textual criticism scholar, Bart Ehrman. Fills a deeply needed void, in that it continues on Ehrman's path in making textual criticism even more accessible to readers without formal theological schooling, while systematically addressing the allegations of textual fallacy raised by Ehrman. While succesfully meeting a large swathe of charges against the validity and trustworthiness of the NT, the book is also a wonderfully easy and concise introduction to the history, background and treatment of the Gospels."

Samuel Ciszuk, Chrisendom (www.christilling.de/blog), January 23, 2009

"Good reply to Ehrman and gives direct corrections and clarifications of Ehrman's arguments against the Bible. I highly recommend the book."

Jason L. Reed, Christian Apologetics Journal,

"Ehrman raises interesting questions in his book, Misquoting Jesus.Unfortunately, he provides the wrong answers. Jones offers a fairer, more accurate presentation of the facts about the New Testament's reliability. I strongly recommend this book to pastors and lay people alike."

Pastor George P. Wood, enrichment, Fall 2008

"What we have here is a very short and readable treatment that basically echoes a lot of what Ehrman said and offers alternatives to a few of the conclusions that Ehrman reached."

Nick Norelli, Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth, June 21, 2008

"[A]n excellent book."

Does God Exist? March/April 2008

"Misquoting Truth is an even-handed and careful rebuttal. . . . Jones makes a detailed analysis and does not give simple answers."

Christopher J. Barden for Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, March 2008

"Jones is a good writer and presents the views he opposes with clarity and respect."

R. O. for Libraries Alive, Winter 2008

"In this absorbing and easy-to-follow work, Jones carefully and courteously exposes the faulty logic behind one man's attempt to discredit the New Testament. This book is a must-read for anyone who questions biblical authority."

Jennifer McCaman in Christian Single, November 2007

"Handily addresses Ehrman's major complaints and criticisms in an approach that is unusually irenic and a style that is surprisingly breezy."

JoelMiller.com, August 5, 2007

"Jones provides a wealth of information that will be helpful to anyone confused about the reliability of our evidence for Jesus' life."

HumanEvents.com, September 4, 2007

"Jones has written a very layman friendly explanation of the reliability and trustworthiness of the Bible as we have it today. Jones deals well with explaining textual criticism, claims of inaccuracies and responses. He writes with a very grace-filled demeanor as he acknowledges the validity of criticisms and demonstrates the weaknesses of the criticism with sound reasons and evidence in defense of the reliability of Scripture."

Midwest Christian Outreach Blog, August 2, 2007


Introduction: A New Breed of Biblical Scholar?

Part One: Why the Texts Can Be Trusted
1 Truth About "The Originals That Matter"
2 Truth About the Copyists
3 Truth About "Significant Changes" in the New Testament
4 Truth About "Misquoting Jesus"

Part Two: Why the Lost Christianities Were Lost
5 Truth About Oral History
6 Truth About the Authors of the Gospels
7 Truth About Eyewitness Testimony
8 Truth About How the Books Were Chosen

Concluding Reflections: "It Fits the Lock"
Appendix: How Valuable Is the Testimony of Papias?
About the Author


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Timothy Paul Jones

Timothy Paul Jones (PhD) teaches apologetics at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and serves as a preaching pastor at Sojourn Church Midtown. In addition, he has authored or co-authored more than a dozen books, including Finding God in a Galaxy Far, Far Away; Christian History Made Easy; and, with James Garlow and April Williams, the bestselling The Da Vinci Codebreaker.