In Lost Christianities, Bart Ehrman offers a compelling look at the early forms of Christianity and shows how they came to be suppressed, reformed, or forgotten. Each of the early Christian groups insisted that they upheld the teachings of Jesus and his apostles, and they all possessed writings that bore out their claims, books reputedly produced by Jesus' own followers. Modern archaeological work has recovered a number of key texts, which reveal religious diversity that says much about the ways in which history gets written by the winners. Ehrman's discussion ranges from considerations of various "lost scriptures" to the disparate beliefs of such groups as the Jewish-Christian Ebionites, the anti-Jewish Marcionites, and various "Gnostic" sects. Ehrman examines in depth the battles that raged between "proto-orthodox Christians"-those who eventually compiled the canonical books of the New Testament and standardized Christian belief-and the groups they denounced as heretics and ultimately overcame.
Scrupulously researched and lucidly written, Lost Christianitics is an eye-opening account of politics, power, and the clash of ideas among Christians in the decades before one group came to see its views prevail.