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Lost in Transmission: What We Can and Cannot Know About the Words of Jesus [Hardcover]

By Nicholas Perrin (Author)
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Item Number 84659  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   224
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.26" Width: 6.42" Height: 0.86"
Weight:   0.93 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Jan 31, 2008
Publisher   Thomas Nelson
ISBN  084990367X  
EAN  9780849903670  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Bart Ehrman, in his New York Times bestseller, Misquoting Jesus, claims that the New Testament cannot wholly be trusted. Cutting and probing with the tools of text criticism, Ehrman suggests that many of its episodes are nothing but legend, fabricated by those who copied or collated its pages in the intervening centuries. The result is confusion and doubt. Can we truly trust what the New Testament says? Now, Wheaton College scholar Nicholas Perrin takes on Ehrman and others who claim that the text of the New Testament has been corrupted beyond recognition. Perrin, in an approachable, compelling style, gives us a layman's guide to textual criticism so that readers can understand the subtleties of Ehrman's critiques, and provides firm evidence to suggest that the New Testament can, indeed, be trusted.

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More About Nicholas Perrin

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Nicholas Perrin (PhD, Marquette University) is Franklin S. Dyrness Professor of Biblical Studies at Wheaton College Graduate School in Wheaton, Illinois. His numerous books include "Jesus the Temple," "Thomas: The Other Gospel," and "Lost in Transmission? What We Can Know about the Words of Jesus."

Nicholas Perrin was born in 1923.

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Product Categories
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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Missing the knockout punch  Feb 13, 2008
Dr. Perrin gets an A for effort but his effort is not, unfortunately, a very convincing response to Dr. Ehrman's work as the book descriptions imply. Dr. Perrin's Lost in Transmission takes the approach of personal anecdotes to provide some theoretical background in understanding history. That approach is satisfactory to a point but fails to reach the level of technical detail in Dr. Ehrman's work in Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why (Plus). What makes Dr. Ehrman so convincing is his grasp of the art of historical textual criticism. And it seems Dr. Perrin beats around that bush but never quite gets to the technical level to equal Dr. Ehrman. Dr. Perrin responds on the historical level a bit but hardly touches the textual criticism. While we appreciate his effort and can glean some value from this work, most serious seekers will not likely find enough answers here. It is a good start, but only that.

One example is the chapter where Dr. Perrin challenges Dr. Ehrman's question about why there are four gospels. Dr. Perrin argues for the superiority of having multiple accounts of the same event but that begs the question, why four and not five, or six, or seven. Dr. Perrin answers the question of why not just one but fails to answer the bigger challenge of why there are not more, including perhaps the gospel of Judas or other writings claiming to also be gospels. And so, failing to make the point, the entire chapter seems shallow and the argument seems weak.

As another example, in the introduction, Dr. Perrin mentions the attack on how the canon of scripture was obtained but never seems to get back to responding to that attack. It is a strong point in Dr. Ehrman's work but one that Dr. Perrin hardly notices in his response.

The bulk of the book is a collection of personal anecdotes used to convey some basic theory behind the study of history. It is sometimes rather excruciating detail that seems as though it could have been summarized in far fewer words. Still, we acknowledge that the foundation must be in place however long it takes. The history student who is somewhat familiar with these theories may benefit from skimming these chapters just to be ready for the specifics in the last four chapters.

Dr. Perrin's effort is good but he seems like a boxer with one hand tied behind his back. No matter how hard he tries, his Protestant presuppositions hold back the full force he could have at his disposal. The Dr. Ehrman's of the world have their own presuppositions and Dr. Perrin does a fine job of pointing many of them out, but he fails to respond to the primary presuppositions because Dr. Perrin shares many of those same presuppositions. But for the grace of God, Dr. Perrin would have followed the same presuppositions to the same conclusions Dr. Ehrman has. For instance, both have failed to recognize the role of church tradition in shaping and accepting what writings were to be chosen as sacred scripture. Dr. Perrin mentions Roman Catholic Christians in places in his work but the mention is often just enough detail to let us know that he has a rather shallow understanding of the Catholic theology which could have given him the one-two punch he needs to finish off his opponent. But, again, the fact that he showed up for the fight and put forth a solid effort with his one punch is commendable in light of how few fighters have responded to date.

All is not lost, however. Pope Benedict XVI, without mentioning Dr. Ehrman by name, has given us a substantial response in depth with his work, Jesus of Nazareth. We would recommend Catholics and Protestants alike read that work to strengthen their faith and to be able to take the barbs of Dr. Ehrman and other cynics and agnostics. In addition, a solid understanding on the formation of the canon of scripture will help in understanding where Dr. Ehrman's challenges fall short. For that background on scripture, see Henry Graham's Where We Got the Bible... Our Debt to the Catholic Church and Dr. Scott Hahn's Letter and Spirit: From Written Text to Living Word in the Liturgy.

Dr. Ehrman is no threat to God anymore than this middle-aged out-of-shape book reviewer would be any threat to a young Cassius Clay. We need not despair that this response to Dr. Ehrman is not what it could be. We can pray that Dr. Perrin explore the rest of his faith to find his other punch and come back again with the knockout blow he is seeking. In the meantime, we have Pope Benedict's well-reasoned and thorough though indirect response among others to finish the fight for anyone willing to take the challenge.
Outstanding--a traditional scholar takes on "Misquoting Jesus"  Jan 20, 2008
Know anyone who lost his faith over "Misquoting Jesus", in which Ehrman claims the bible we have now has been so corrupted, so changed by hundreds of scribes, that there is no way of knowing whether or not we have the original message of Jesus?

Perrin has written a response to that book. Perrin is a first class scholar, whose recent books dated the Gnostic "Gospel of Thomas" to after 170 AD, much to the chagrin of the Jesus Seminar.

"Lost in Transmission" is aimed at the general reader, however. You don't need any kind of background to read this book.

Perrin starts out by clearing up some common claims in popular anti-Christian books, starting with "The Jesus Mysteries" by Freke and Gandy. They claim Jesus never existed. Perrin chews their thesis to bits. Freke and Gandy are English teachers, not bible scholars, and it's a simple matter to run through all the ridiculous errors in their book. Perrin also takes on Gotthold Lessing, who wants tolerance to prevail, to the point of forbidding religion. What logic!

Then there are those that argue that all religions are essentially the same. No, from the start "Judaism...was different from the Eastern religions in that it took history seriously" (p 115). While much of the eastern religions say that "suffering is an illusion, both Judaism and Christianity take suffering seriously" (p 116).

Ehrman's errors and exagarations are many. Certainly he never explains the care the ancient Jews took with copying their scriptures. He points out that "we have roughly 5,500 manuscript witnesses to the New Testament. There is no other book and no other set of books that can even come close to comparing with this level of attestation" (p 142). In fact, Ehrman's book ultimately "promises far more than it delivers" (p 144).

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