50 Ways to Forge a Gospel

50 Ways to Forge a Gospel November 19, 2015

As the song lyrics indicate, it genuinely was at the 2015 York Christian Apocrypha Symposium that I got the idea for this song, and mentioned it to Bart Ehrman over a drink after his keynote address, which was the primary inspiration for the song, although the whole range of papers were in mind and there are nods to many of them.

This is the kind of silliness I tend to engage in when I’ve just finished a project, and so you can tell that my conference paper for SBL is now done. I’ll write about that in a separate post.

I apologize that I didn’t find the time to learn GMaj7#5 and B+ on the guitar with enough confidence to provide a guitar accompaniment, which would have made it closer to the original – this is obviously a parody of Paul Simon’s “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.” This live version recorded in one take was all I have time for, as there are still things to do to get ready for the upcoming conference.

Here are the lyrics:

50 Ways to Forge a Gospel


At a York symposium, Bart Ehrman said to me

Don’t try to whitewash it, just call it forgery

I’m all for nuance, here’s an argument from me

There must be fifty ways to forge a Gospel

Don’t tell me they had no intention to deceive

When Jude used Enoch we can see what he believed

And who knows who Jude was or what tangled web he weaves

There must be fifty ways to forge a Gospel


Claim that he wasn’t dead, Fred

Find his childhood pal, Sal

Write an apocryphon, John

It just takes a good tale

Dialogue with the Savior, Xavier

Have Jesus laugh from the sky, Guy

Write “my wife” on papyrus, Iris

Then say it’s for sale


Bart said the ancients knew

Just what it meant to lie

To fabricate and call it

tribute wouldn’t fly

This kind of thing was enough

To make Tertullian cry

About the fifty ways

People then as now

Did not like to be had

To say you wrote something

You didn’t was still bad

I realized Bart exposed

an academic fad

There must be fifty ways to forge a Gospel

Fifty ways to forge a Gospel


You can claim that you’re Matt, Pat

Or pretend that you’re John, Ron

Hint you travelled with Paul, y’all

And you’ll be home free

Make some angels say “Hark!”, Mark

You might want to use Q, too (or should that be “Q2”?)

Add a whole second book, Luke

Let someone else make it three

Have Jesus teach ’em discreetly, Dmitri

Call it Gospel of Truth, Ruth

Add in the Demiurge, Serge

Gnosticism galore

Have them kiss on the lacuna, Petunia

Add it to Codex Tschakos, Jackos

This might need a new chart, Bart

If there’s this many more


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