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

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

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by Bart D. Ehrman
     
 

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The early Christian Church was a chaos of contending beliefs. Some groups of Christians claimed that there was not one God but two or twelve or thirty. Some believed that the world had not been created by God but by a lesser, ignorant deity. Certain sects maintained that Jesus was human but not divine, while others said he was divine but not human. In Lost

Overview

The early Christian Church was a chaos of contending beliefs. Some groups of Christians claimed that there was not one God but two or twelve or thirty. Some believed that the world had not been created by God but by a lesser, ignorant deity. Certain sects maintained that Jesus was human but not divine, while others said he was divine but not human. In Lost Christianities, Bart D. Ehrman offers a fascinating look at these early forms of Christianity and shows how they came to be suppressed, reformed, or forgotten. All of these 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's own followers. Modern archaeological work has recovered a number of key texts, and as Ehrman shows, these spectacular discoveries 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"--including forged gospels supposedly written by Simon Peter, Jesus's closest disciple, and Judas Thomas, Jesus's alleged twin brother--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 Christianities 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.

Editorial Reviews

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

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

"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

"Ehrman displays expert knowledge of the texts and the best modern scholarship.... His balanced exposition of the Gospel of Thomas, with its careful delineation of the different materials in it, is outstanding."—America

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199727124
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
10/02/2003
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Sales rank:
122,751
File size:
3 MB

Meet the Author

Bart D. Ehrman is Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the author of The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings and Jesus, Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium.

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Lost Christianities 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
JosephNicholas More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Winterlight00 More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Rick_in_Brick More than 1 year ago
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.
Nsp88 More than 1 year ago
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.  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Doubles More than 1 year ago
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".
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rewardsofcuriosity More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.