Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew Paperback – 15 Sep 2005
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"An illuminating book." (Noel Rooney, Fortean Times)
About 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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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.Read more ›
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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A great research book, for putting the past into what really happened and not what man thinks that happened as we are very mislead these days by many things. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Elsie
Ehrman does his usual slick job. A great deal recycled from earlier bookks (Forged, Jesus Interrupted). I liked the treatment of the Morton Smith controversy.Published 9 months ago by Peter Marchant
This guy knows how to write a great book , not trying to be all officious plane speaking informative and open minded recommend to allPublished 11 months ago by Anthony John Bennett