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Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew Paperback – 27 Oct 2005

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: OUP USA; New Ed edition (27 Oct. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195182499
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195182491
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 2.5 x 15.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 142,866 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

Review

"An illuminating book." (Noel Rooney, Fortean Times)

About 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).

Inside This Book

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First Sentence
Ancient Christians knew of far more Gospels than the four that eventually came to be included in the New Testament. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Carruth on 18 Feb. 2011
Format: Paperback
Ehrman masterfully demonstrates that there were many flavours of Christianity in the past, most of which did not survive. Most intruiging are the Ebioties, the Jewish Christians, who actually revered Jesus' brother James rather than the Apostle Paul. Although they likely preserved a more accurate teaching about Jesus, this sect died out when the emerging Catholic Church (Ehrman calls them the proto-orthadox) triumphed over all.

The story of how the proto-orthadox won the day is told in a way that is accessible to the layman.

This book is a fascinating study of these alternative christianities and their often weird understanding of Jesus and God. I can recommend it to anyone who has a passing interest in the early history of Christianity.
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105 of 113 people found the following review helpful By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAME on 27 April 2006
Format: Hardcover
Like the famous ice-cream store chain, Christianity offers a wide selection of options. At least one should meet the needs of the discriminating shopper. With so many consumers selecting the standard vanilla or chocolate fare, some of the more esoteric flavours fade from view. Ehrman seeks to bring some of the unusual or even obsolete versions of Christianity back into view. From the "orthodox" perspective , of course, many of these will seem distasteful, even bizarre. As he notes, from the now-available sources, the other "versions" should be granted equal weight with what has become "traditional". Certainly, the other writings on Jesus' teachings are no less plausible than what is currently believed by many.

In relating this captivating account of "lost" Christianities, Ehrman stacks a variety of writings against those he deems "proto-orthodox". The proto-orthodox are those who laid down a foundation later adopted by the Roman Empire as "official". Among the proto-orthodox writings is condemnation of the alternative "Christianities". These include the Gnostics, made more recently famous by the books found at Nag Hammadi in Egypt in 1945, and the "Gospels" of such figures as Peter, Thecla and a reputed twin brother of Jesus himself. The greatest departure from today's "orthodox" [if anything as diverse as modern Christianity can have such] are the docetists, who deny that Jesus had a corporeal state. As he concedes, the docetists in effect, thereby refute the notion of Jesus dying for the benefit of the rest of us.

Ehrman's running theme is that Christianity, indeed the history of the entire planet, might have taken a drastically different tack had one or more of these Christianities been granted greater impact on what people believed.
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74 of 80 people found the following review helpful By Kalgari on 26 Sept. 2004
Format: Hardcover
An excellent read presenting the many contentions between fundamentalist sects of the first centuries following Christ's execution, how this has shaped and influenced the present day Christian faith and why the present books form our modern day New Testament.
Thankfully, the theological terminology used is explained as encountered making the book accessible to the large majority of readers. The value of this book is enhanced by the frequent quotations and references to the many "Christian" texts detailed in the companion book "Lost Scriptures".
The companion text, by the same author, is certainly not essential for a general understanding of the material is this book. I would suggest "Lost Scriptures" could be considered for purchase after the complete reading of this book.
I will warn that the author at certain stages reiterates previous conclusions in order to cement further assumption. Repeat reading the same findings of certain early Greek and Roman theologians can become tiresome. Overall the author is to be commended for his generally even-handed approach to the mass of material available. There is a wealth of knowledge obtainable from this work.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Roland on 5 Jun. 2008
Format: Paperback
The "Lost Christianities" of Bart Ehrman is a very neutral description of the Christian history of the first 3 centuries AD. Ehrman has no axe to grind with competing scholars no dogmatic bias, just the open minded attempt to describe the different streams of Christianities before the orthodox were left as winners.

Part 1 of the book is evaluating the different forgeries of Gospels, epistles, revelations and prophecies which were circulating in the ancient Middle East. Gospels of different authors suppressed from the orthodox winners, sometimes only available as fragmented quotations from opponents of the other camp.

Part 2 is describing the 4 different main directions of early Christianity:
- Ebonite's based on the Jewish ancestry, following more the original apostle teachings, using the Gospel of Matthew and consider Jesus as a human teacher not divine `Son of God' but just adopted from God.
- Marcionites breaking completely with the OT and consider the Jewish God YHWH as imperfect creator of the earth and the true God is sending his son only as spirit (docetic) to wrestle control back from YHWH and forgive the sins of humans entrapping them to YHWH by faking a mortal dead of Jesus.
- Gnostics who are looking for the `Jesus within' everybody and consider only the truly knowing and enlighten elite as eternal spirits. They are predominantly in Egypt and were using several Gospel texts many of them found in Nag Hamadi, interpreting these texts as way to knowledge of the divinity inside themselves.
- The fourth group Ehrman calls proto-orthodox who considers Jesus as divine but made of flesh and blood, which caused many discussions even inside the proto-orthodox camp.
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