Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew

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Overview

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 ...
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Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Winston Churchill reminded us that history is written by the victors. Nowhere was that more true, according to biblical scholar Bart Ehrman, than in New Testament history. In this fascinating study, he reconstructs early forms of Christianity that were suppressed, reformed, or forgotten. Lost Christianities describes the battles between "proto-orthodox Christians" (the eventual victors) and their Jewish-Christian Ebionite, anti-Jewish Marconite, and Gnostic rivals.
From the Publisher

"A charting of the full theological kaleidoscope would take volumes, but it is possible, using Ehrman's book as a jumping-off point, to examine some of the more striking and widespread of the Christian roads not taken."--Time Magazine (cover story)

"A well-crafted, scholarly tale of forgeries, burned books, doctrinal feuds, and other episodes in the making of the New Testament and the early Church. Or better, Churches."--Kirkus Reviews

"Ehrman's style is marked by the narrative thrust of a good story or even a sermon."--Christian Science Monitor

"This book offers a fascinating introduction to an astonishing range of 'lost Christianities' that flourished at the time when the Christian movement began. Bart Ehrman has the rare gift of communicating scholarship in writing that is lively, enjoyable, and accessible."--Elaine Pagels, Princeton University

"That Ehrman makes his case without pushing into territory considered heretical by many mainstream Christians shows a deft touch with the most volatile of subjects.... Will shock more than a few lay readers. The 27 New Testament gospels, epistles, acts, and revelations, it turns out, were only a handful of the letters, arguments, visions, and accounts of Christ's life in wide circulation in the early centuries of the religion."--Scott Bernard Nelson, The Boston Globe

"Ehrman displays expert knowledge of the texts and the best modern scholarship, as well as sound critical judgment about their content. His balanced exposition of the Gospel of Thomas, with its careful delineation of the different materials in it, is outstanding. His essay on the Secret Gospel of Mark, with its suggestion that the text may be a modern forgery (perhaps even by its learned editor, Morton Smith), reads like a detective story. Studying a text in Lost Scriptures and reading Ehrman's discussion of it can be both informative and engrossing."--America

"The author of more than ten books on New Testament history and early Christian writings, Ehrman has established himself as an expert on early Christianity. These two works should soundly solidify his stature, as they illuminate the flavor and varieties of early Christian belief."--Library Journal (on Lost Christianities and Lost Scriptures)

"A fascinating look at how Christianity was molded."--Dallas Morning News

"Highly readable and based on up-to-date scholarship, Ehrman's book provides an excellent introduction to early Christianity's diversity and the means by which early orthodoxy, and the New Testament canon, developed from it. This lively study will prove eye-opening to a wide variety of readers."--Elizabeth A. Clark, John Carlisle Kilgo Professor, Duke University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195182491
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 9/15/2005
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 106,941
  • Product dimensions: 9.20 (w) x 6.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Bart D. Ehrman chairs the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. An authority on the early Church and the life of Jesus, he has appeared on A&E, the History Channel, CNN, and other television and radio shows. He has taped several highly popular lecture series for the "Teaching Company" and is the author of The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings (Third Edition, OUP, 2003) and Jesus, Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium (OUP, 1999).

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Table of Contents

Chapter One: Recouping Our Loses
PART ONE: Forgeries and Discoveries
Chapter Two: The Ancient Discovery of a Forgery: Serapion and the Gospel of Peter
Chapter Three: The Ancient Forgery of a Discovery: The Acts of Paul and Thecla
Chapter Four: The Discovery on an Ancient Forgery: the Coptic Gospel of Thomas
Chapter Five: The Forgery of an Ancient Discovery? Morton Smith and the Secret Gospel of Mark
PART TWO: Heresies and Orthodoxies
Chapter Six: At Polar Ends of the Spectrum: Early Christian Ebionites and Marcionites
Chapter Seven: Christians "In the Know": The Worlds of Early Christian Gnosticism
Chapter Eight: On the Road to Nicea: The Broad Swath of Proto-Orthodox Christianity
PART THREE: Winners and Losers
Chapter Nine: The Quest for Orthodoxy
Chapter Ten: The Arsenal of the Conflicts: Polemical Treatises and Personal Slurs
Chapter Eleven: Additional Weapons in the Proto-Orthodox Arsenal: Forgeries and Falsifications
Chapter Twelve: The Invention of Scripture: The Formation of the Proto-Orthodox New Testament
Chapter Thirteen: Winners, Losers, and the Question of Tolerance

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 23 )
Rating Distribution

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 23 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 8, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Lost Christianities

    In Lost Christianities, biblical scholar and author Bart D. Ehman thoughtfully explains the evolution of Christianity. It is fascinating to see how the competing sects of Christianity clashed and conquered. It is an invaluable read, especially for Christians.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 17, 2005

    Solid historical book about the early Christians

    I purchased this book after hearing the author speak on NPR. I was very impressed by the book and would recommend it to anyone who really wants to learn about the early Christian church. You will find many surprises!! I compared the book to many other sources and found it 100% accurate.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 6, 2011

    Recommended

    Ehrman has a great writing style, fresh and lively. The guy obviously has a passion for his subject and it comes out in this book. While easy to read this is not a light weight book, you'll get real depth here about the varieties of early christian text and thought along with plenty of footnotes and references if you want to dig deeper. A great even handed introduction to early christianity for laymen amd scholars alike.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2007

    A reviewer

    Ehrman writes with a fascination towards the discoveries and controversies surrounding the protorthodox assembling of the New Testament. While there is obvious temptations to attack the divinity and integrity of the New Testament, Ehrman sticks to the facts. As he outlines the historical conflicts and controversies surrounding the formulation of the canon, what occurs to me is that it is more than amazing that we are left with a book(New Testament) that actually makes sense.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 30, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Great information that is news to most lay people

    Ehrman provides details on many of the books that did not make it into what is now the sacred canon for the Christian relegion. He explains what is known of the believes of the early church and how they and the written materials were excluded from what we now call Christianity. This will be news for many who think the Bible contains everything that was written by the early church.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2012

    Awesome Book full of good information.

    One of Ehrman's best efforts at providing a historical framework for why certain books did not make it into today's Bible. He is at his best when he sticks to historical data rather than biased interpretation. He is often accused of pushing Agnosticism on evangelicals, but I do not find that here. Instead, he provides an excellent contextual lens withbwhich to understand the "hows" and "whys" of being sects formations and why they were considered heretical in light of today's church. For the reader that perhaps wishes to go beyond mere devotion and actually get some rich history behind Scripture, I thought this was an excellent read. Ehrman is a better professor of Christian history than a critic of it. Good read.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 13, 2011

    Highly recommend

    I am slogging through it. It is difficult reading from my layman's point of view, but I find it very interesting. I am quite curious to finding out how Christianity achieved it's present form and what was "lost".

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 22, 2005

    Interesting but appears biased

    Has it occured to Mr Ehrman that God may have guided the Scriptures to their conclusion. He portrays it all as a battle that was somehow won by 'Proto-Orthodoxy', like as though, maybe it should not have won the battle. The scriptures discuss the 'anti-christs' and false teachers, but Mr Ehrman implies that was put in to justify 'Proto-Orthodoxy' and that all the scriptures we read were biased to the 'Ortho-orthodoxy' view after the fact. I'm sorry, but I have a problem with that. Even he does not have the original scriptures so to suppose that the ones we read are biased to a later belief is a bit of a stretch for me. Some of the Apostles were still around when this battle was going on. (John was the last to die and that was after Revelation was written) Their charge was to vet the scriptures and to guide the churches in the proper Godly belief. I don't think it was an accident that the current Scriptures won out in the battle. It is not an accident that the Old Testament and New Testament tie together so closely either. Christianity has not accepted the Old Testament just because it prophesies the Messiah. The Old Testament points to the New Testament and gives viability to it. The Old Testament even ties Christianity to Abraham. In fact there is stong evidence that there are as many decendents of Abraham that are Christian as are Jews. Mr Ehrman needs to review some other thoughts by biblical scholars about his so-called contradictions in the Scriptures. He implies there are so many discrepencies that the scriptures are hard to believe.

    2 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 19, 2014

    I find the early Christian era fascinating, and worth researchin

    I find the early Christian era fascinating, and worth researching to understand the early battles that shaped the world's largest religion. This book does well to explore this subject without becoming to scholarly or boring. Overall if this is a subject that interests you this is worth reading.  

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 17, 2012

    For the brave and open minded seeker only!

    The mystery of creation, the creator has long been humanized in order for groups to control. As new discoveries are made, as in the Dead Sea scrolls and other religious writings, the mystery remains just that. . . a mystery. This book is a must read.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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