I’m sure that when Bart Ehrman’s new book, Forged: Writing in the Name of God: Why the Bible’s Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are, is released next month there will be a spate of responses. How about one from the nineteenth-century?
Alexander Carson (1776-1844), in a discussion on the simplicity of Scripture, makes a comment about forgery. He argues that the Bible’s simplicity is such that it would render forgeries of it impossible. He quotes a passage from Cesar Vichard (1639-1692), Abbe de Saint Real’s Vie du Jesus Christ (1638) and compares it with the original text from Luke 2:8-14. While the Abbe’s language is eloquent, due to its lack of simplicity, it does not compare with the inspired quotation. In Carson’s words, “The greatest of human writers cannot, in a few sentences, imitate the noble simplicity of Scripture” (Carson, “Characteristics of the Style of Scripture,” 29).
A quote that has special relevance to Erhman’s forthcoming book, Carson says, “Forge the Bible! As well might it be supposed that some idiot forged the Iliad, and fathered it on Homer” (Ibid.).