Lost Scriptures: Books that Did Not Make It into the New Testament

Lost Scriptures: Books that Did Not Make It into the New Testament

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by Bart D. Ehrman, Niki Meston, Pam Dyson, Jenny Shaw
     
 

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We may think of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament as the only sacred writings of the early Christians, but this is not at all the case. Lost Scriptures offers an anthology of up-to-date and readable translations of many non-canonical writings from the first centuries after Christ--texts that have been for the most part lost or neglected for almost two

Overview

We may think of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament as the only sacred writings of the early Christians, but this is not at all the case. Lost Scriptures offers an anthology of up-to-date and readable translations of many non-canonical writings from the first centuries after Christ--texts that have been for the most part lost or neglected for almost two millennia.
Here is an array of remarkably varied writings from early Christian groups whose visions of Jesus differ dramatically from our contemporary understanding. Readers will find Gospels supposedly authored by the apostle Philip, James the brother of Jesus, Mary Magdalen, and others. There are Acts originally ascribed to John and to Thecla, Paul's female companion; there are Epistles allegedly written by Paul to the Roman philosopher Seneca. And there is an apocalypse by Simon Peter that offers a guided tour of the afterlife, both the glorious ecstasies of the saints and the horrendous torments of the damned, and an Epistle by Titus, a companion of Paul, which argues page after page against sexual love, even within marriage, on the grounds that physical intimacy leads to damnation. In all, the anthology includes fifteen Gospels, five non-canonical Acts of the Apostles, thirteen Epistles, a number of Apocalypes and Secret Books, and several Canon lists. Ehrman has included a general introduction, plus brief introductions to each piece.
Lost Scriptures gives readers a vivid picture of the range of beliefs that battled each other in the first centuries of the Christian era. It is an essential resource for anyone interested in the Bible or the early Church.

Editorial Reviews

Many Christians believe that the 27 books of the New Testament comprise the only sacred writings of the early Christianity. Dr. Bart Ehrman, the chair of the department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, disagrees. He has edited an anthology of 15 Gospels; 5 non-canonical Acts of the Apostles; 13 Epistles; a number of Apocalypses and Secret Books; and several Canon Lists.
From the Publisher
"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)

"History, it's often said, is written by the victors. Bart Ehrman argues in a pair of intriguing new books that the same could be said of the Bible's New Testament.... Will shock more than a few lay readers."—The Boston Globe

"Lost Scriptures provides a good sample of the literature and illustrates nicely the complex and often exotic world of second- and third-century Christianity."—America

"Fresh authoritative translations of the texts that fell outside in the canon."—Christian Science Monitor

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199743681
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
10/02/2003
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Sales rank:
510,120
File size:
1 MB

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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 Scriptures 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
falstaff1962 More than 1 year ago
As with many of Ehrman's writings, I found this to be thoroughly entertaining and accessible. I am a particular fan of this type of history of the various forms of Christianity and Ehrman provides some fine examples of the various writings left out of the New Testament (for a variety of reasons). Don't read this as an attack on religion, a view that these books should have been included or anything like that. The fact is that they were written as someone's belief (Gnostic and otherwise) and are legitimate views. And to the other reviewers. Please stick to reviewing the book at hand and not pontificating about your various views. There are other (and far better) forums for that type of discussion.
Ski-Bray More than 1 year ago
This book isn’t what I would call exciting reading, but if you’re interested in the early religious writings it is informative. There is short introduction about each of these “lost books” and then the actual translation. Of course, these books weren’t actually “lost” because we have copies of them today, but they were “missing” for centuries until they were discovered in modern times. They are early gospels, acts, epistles, and apocalypses that seemed to disappear for a time. Some are complete translations, some are just fragments, and some are what we have learned from quotes in other writings. Some actually seem like they could have been included in the Bible. They go from interesting and informative to boring and absurd or ridiculous. In one there’s a talking dog. Of course, wasn’t there a talking donkey in the Bible? We also have a smoked tuna that was resurrected and that Mary was checked to make sure she was really a virgin. I wonder who did that? For me, the interesting ones were the Gospel of Mary, the Acts of John and Thecla (Paul’s companion), The Shepherd of Hermas, The Infancy Gospel of Thomas , which I believe are the only writings of Jesus’ early life, and The Coptic Gospel of Thomas, which reveals 114 secret teachings of Jesus. Many say that these writings of Thomas may be closer to what Jesus actually taught than what we find in the New Testament. Of course, I'm also sure that many would adamantly disagree with this statement. Several of these writings were quite controversial. In a few Jesus has a twin brother, Didymus Judas Thomas. One of the most interesting is the fragmentary Gospel of Mary. There are several references to the intimate relationship she had with Jesus. In one, it states, “there were three Marys who walked with the Lord: A Mary is his sister and his mother and his lover.” In another it references Mary as the “consort of Christ is Mary Magdalene.” In this gospel, she is also given a high status among the apostles, “Jesus loved her more than us.” I never really knew what it took for an early writing to be accepted as canonical. This book tells me: they had to be ancient (near the time of Jesus), apostolic, catholic, and orthodox. Yet what is considered heresy would definitely depend on your point of view. Most of these early writings were rejected by the church because they preached a Gnostic point of view, leaned toward a too ascetic lifestyle, or were, at the time, thought to be falsely written in the name of an apostle. Yet some modern Bible scholars believe that some of the apostolic writings included in the New Testament were not actually written by who they claim. I believe this book is actually written as a resource for one of Ehrman’s other books, Lost Christianities. As I mentioned earlier, some of the “lost books” were interesting and some weren’t, and I found myself scanning and skipping through some of them. This book probably would been better if I had read Lost Christianities first. If you’re looking for shocking revelations, this isn’t the book for you. Read this book if you are able to have an open mind about the New Testament and have an interest in early religious writings. It gives insight into these early times, the thoughts of these early writers, and the culture of this time period. Know beforehand that some of these early writings are not that interesting, but it makes for a good reference book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you are interesting in taking your knowledge of biblical scripture this is the book to help you get started.
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guitaoist3 More than 1 year ago
gotta wonder why the vatican hates these scriptures...maybe its because they give the believer more power than the church
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am fascinated that so many christians are so quick to turn to the bible to reinforce and confirm their views on homosexuality being a sin. These so called people believe that every word in the bible was inspired by the heavenly Creator Himself. I on the other hand do not, I think that those people who clain that everyword is an order, law or layout for how we are to live our lives, ought to take a closer look at the bible. First of all, the bible is very clear at letting us know exactly when GOD is speaking as well as when JESUS is speaking. There are several accounts in the old testament where GOD is walking with or talking with people. Such ex's. are- adam and eve, in the garden-Moses and the 10 commandments, Noah, and warning him of the flood, Issac, and Jacob. David, Joseph, as well as shadrac, meishac, and abendigo, in the fire, even lott. In the new testament, again, we are clear as to when JESUS , is commanding, healing and spreading the new doctrines, and laws to be obeyed. I guess that my point to all of this is that, the people critisizing gay people coming in the name of JESUS, who scream their going against GOD's Laws or HIS word, should look at the times that we know for sure when they are talking. Isn't it funny that the subject isn't brought up once, which leads me to believe that the times that it is mentioned is nothing more than opinions, or laws, customs of the times, as to what was accepted and what wasn't..
Guest More than 1 year ago
How this person dares to say 'I am fascinated that so many christians are so quick to turn to the bible to reinforce and confirm their views on homosexuality being a sin. These so called people believe that every word in the bible was inspired by the heavenly Creator Himself. I on the other hand do not, I think that those people who clain that everyword is an order, law or layout for how we are to live our lives, ought to take a closer look at the bible' You MUST take a closer look at the bible yourself...because rigth now you sound very ignorent!!! Take a look Lv 18: 1-30 and you will have your answer. Good luck!