Would you like to tell us about a lower price? If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support? 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.
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Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Preview — Lost Christianities by Bart D. 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.
Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. Published September 15th by Oxford University Press first published More Details Original Title. Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Lost Christianities , please sign up. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 4.
Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Jan 01, Skylar Burris rated it it was ok Recommends it for: conspiracy theorists. Shelves: christianity. Here is a sentence from "Lost Christianities" that provides a clue to why the book is not really very sensational, as well as a clue to Ehrman's perspective: "It comes as a bit of a shock to most people to realize that the Church has not always had the New Testament.
I am reminded of Alexander Pope's phrase, "A little learning is a dangerous thing. This book often plays a "what if" game. What if orthodox Christianity didn't win out? What if the Gnostics or the dualists or the Marcionites or the Ebionites won out? Well, it's an amusing hypothetical, I suppose, but it's rather like saying, "What if the Constitution didn't become the standard for the U. This question, perhaps the most essential question, is one Ehrman seems to regard as unimportant.
He explores why the so-called proto-orthodox "won" out, offering reasons that range from geography to forgery and slander, but he does not spend much time asking whether their theology is more accurate, more true, than the theology on offer by the other "varieties" of Christianity.
Is it likely that a sect teaching that the God of the Old Testament is evil has grasped a true representation of the 1st century Jew Jesus? Is it likely that a sect teaching there are twelve gods has grasped a true representation of the 1st century monotheist Jesus? Is the theology of a gospel written over years after Christ's death to be trusted more than the theology of a gospel written within less than thirty years of his death?
To Ehrman, these are irrelevant questions. What is relevant is that these "varieties" existed and that their adherents claimed to be followers of Christ, and therefore, presumably, the orthodox have no reason to claim they are orthodox.
Ehrman leaves the reader with the impression that the "proto-orthodox" are but one group of Christians among many, no more likely to have grasped a true understanding of Christ and his teachings than any other group of self-labeled Christians. Perhaps the reason Ehrman does not much explore the question of which group most accurately portrays Christ is that the most likely answer is not sensational.
It seems likely that the proto-orthodox interpreted Christ's teachings more accurately than did the Manicheans or the Gnostics. In Ehrman's sensational version of events, the proto-orthodox, through their "machinations," destroyed these other forms of Christianity, which are themselves occasionally portrayed as more virtuous or liberating than orthodox Christianity. But, how, exactly, do the proto-orthodox, who at the time had no state power and were occasionally subject to persecution, carry out their "machinations" except by intellectual persuasion and accepted authority which itself implies that orthodoxy was established earlier than Ehrman suggests.
Ehrman proceeds almost as if these "lost" writings were lost because the "proto-orthodox" collected every existing copy and set them ablaze in a giant bonfire, and not at all because they were the product of unconvincing religions that ultimately died out after failing to adequately portray Christ to the world. Most of these "varieties" are not so much lost Christianities as dead Christianities. Despite all this criticism, I give the book two stars an "okay" rating because it contains so much information, all in one place, on early Christian and Gnostic literature, early sects, and the history of Christianity.
I cannot give it more because the information comes obviously processed and arranged to persuade the reader that orthodox Christianity has no more reason to consider itself orthodox than any other form.
Religious labels need some definition to be useful at all. If we say the orthodox Christians those who canonized the Bible, those who established the creeds, those who spread the church throughout the world have no more right to define Christianity than anyone else, then the Muslims and Unitarians are Christians too; they're just Christians who view Christ differently than orthodox Christians, and so the religious term becomes meaningless.
It's almost as if someone started speaking of the "varieties of Judaism" and began behaving as though the Samaritans and the Christians had as much authority to define Judaism as the Jews. I suggest that anyone who reads this also read the second half of Timothy Paul Jones's "Misquoting Truth" for two different perspectives.
Also of interest are the actual noncanonical texts, many of which can be found collected in "Lost Books of the Bible. View all 22 comments. Mar 19, Ken Robert rated it really liked it. Ebionites, Marcionites, and Gnostics. Oh my. This is a great introduction to the history of the competing theologies and practices of early Christians as can best be determined from ancient texts that have been passed down and rediscovered. The author Bart D. Ehrman, professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, argues and, in my opinion, demonstrates that early Christianity was anything but a monolithic religion and that the beliefs that eventually came to be called orthodox Ebionites, Marcionites, and Gnostics.
Ehrman, professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, argues and, in my opinion, demonstrates that early Christianity was anything but a monolithic religion and that the beliefs that eventually came to be called orthodox were more a matter of evolution than revelation. Who was Jesus? Was he fully human, fully divine, a mix of the two, or both things at once? Is there one God, two gods, or many gods? Is the earth the creation of a Supreme Being or the work of a bumbling and perhaps evil quasi-supreme being?
To be called a Christian, did you first have to be Jewish? Are the Hebrew scriptures sacred? Are they relevant? Which of the many books in circulation gospels, epistles, apocalypses were inspired, apostolic, and worthy of preserving? Which of them were heretical, dangerous, and worthy of destruction? These and many other questions had differing answers depending on who you asked and at what point in time you asked them.
Whether you're a Catholic, a mainline Protestant, an Evangelical, or, like me, a secularist, it's an interesting read. Oct 14, Justin Evans rated it liked it Shelves: history-etc. As for Ehrman's book, I do know what to make of it. Ehrman is a solid scholar who seems to have decided that he needs that cash money baby, so he writes more or less respectable books in such a way that they sound like a Hollywood movie. So nobody argues with a person when they disagree with each other, instead, they "set out" to destroy When you search for this book on Goodreads, the first two results are Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol,' and Milton's 'Paradise Lost.
Arguments are not conducted with any sense of rational or historical validity, they are more or less wars in which discussants have an arsenal or weapons and use tactics rather than syllogisms.
In the grand tradition of late twentieth century academia, Ehrman assumes that the other is good, no matter its constituent parts, and that what wins out is bad, no matter its comparative rational or historical accuracy. I don't doubt that force was involved in the winners becoming winners, but it certainly wasn't the only thing involved, which this book may suggest.
So, if you're aware of all this, and can translate out of academese on the fly, LC will be very interesting. If not you may be very puzzled, or even disgusted by the way he casts this 'battle,' or his preference for the more ludicrous early Christian doctrines. In either case, it's a quick, easy read, and parts one on the discovery of non-canonical early christian texts and two on the varieties of early christian thought and practice are well worth your attention.
Only those Christians whose knowledge of Christianity is bounded by Billy Graham in the past and the Apocalypse in the future will be shocked to learn in part three that people argue about religious texts. But those people don't read anything anyway, so it's really a superfluous hundred pages.
Lost Christianities : The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew
A revealing look at the Early Church and the intense struggle to form the canon of the New Testament. 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.
Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew
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