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…  See more details below

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.

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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:
9780199756681
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
09/15/2005
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Sales rank:
338,339
File size:
4 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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