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

Paperback | August 12, 2005

byBart 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 butnot 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 outtheir 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'sdiscussion 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-JewishMarcionites, 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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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 butnot divine, while others said he was divine bu...

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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Format:PaperbackDimensions:320 pages, 6.1 × 9.21 × 0.98 inPublished:August 12, 2005Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195182499

ISBN - 13:9780195182491

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Table of Contents

Chapter One: Recouping Our LosesPART ONE: Forgeries and DiscoveriesChapter Two: The Ancient Discovery of a Forgery: Serapion and the Gospel of PeterChapter Three: The Ancient Forgery of a Discovery: The Acts of Paul and TheclaChapter Four: The Discovery on an Ancient Forgery: the Coptic Gospel of ThomasChapter Five: The Forgery of an Ancient Discovery? Morton Smith and the Secret Gospel of MarkPART TWO: Heresies and OrthodoxiesChapter Six: At Polar Ends of the Spectrum: Early Christian Ebionites and MarcionitesChapter Seven: Christians "In the Know": The Worlds of Early Christian GnosticismChapter Eight: On the Road to Nicea: The Broad Swath of Proto-Orthodox ChristianityPART THREE: Winners and LosersChapter Nine: The Quest for OrthodoxyChapter Ten: The Arsenal of the Conflicts: Polemical Treatises and Personal SlursChapter Eleven: Additional Weapons in the Proto-Orthodox Arsenal: Forgeries and FalsificationsChapter Twelve: The Invention of Scripture: The Formation of the Proto-Orthodox New TestamentChapter Thirteen: Winners, Losers, and the Question of Tolerance

Editorial Reviews

"Highly readable and based on up-to-date scholarship, Ehrman's book provides an excellent introduction to early Christianity's diversity and the means by which early orthodoxy, and the New Testament canon, developed from it. This lively study will prove eye-opening to a wide variety ofreaders."--Elizabeth A. Clark, John Carlisle Kilgo Professor, Duke University