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Lost Christianities


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Table of Contents

Chapter One: Recouping Our Loses ; PART ONE: Forgeries and Discoveries ; Chapter Two: The Ancient Discovery of a Forgery: Serapion and the Gospel of Peter ; Chapter Three: The Ancient Forgery of a Discovery: The Acts of Paul and Thecla ; Chapter Four: The Discovery on an Ancient Forgery: the Coptic Gospel of Thomas ; Chapter Five: The Forgery of an Ancient Discovery? Morton Smith and the Secret Gospel of Mark ; PART TWO: Heresies and Orthodoxies ; Chapter Six: At Polar Ends of the Spectrum: Early Christian Ebionites and Marcionites ; Chapter Seven: Christians "In the Know": The Worlds of Early Christian Gnosticism ; Chapter Eight: On the Road to Nicea: The Broad Swath of Proto-Orthodox Christianity ; PART THREE: Winners and Losers ; Chapter Nine: The Quest for Orthodoxy ; Chapter Ten: The Arsenal of the Conflicts: Polemical Treatises and Personal Slurs ; Chapter Eleven: Additional Weapons in the Proto-Orthodox Arsenal: Forgeries and Falsifications ; Chapter Twelve: The Invention of Scripture: The Formation of the Proto-Orthodox New Testament ; Chapter Thirteen: Winners, Losers, and the Question of Tolerance

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).


What if Marcion's canon-which consisted only of Luke's Gospel and Paul's letters, entirely omitting the Old Testament-had become Christianity's canon? What if the Ebionites-who believed Jesus was completely human and not divine-had ruled the day as the Orthodox Christian party? What if various early Christian writings, such as the Gospel of Thomas or the Secret Gospel of Mark, had been allowed into the canonical New Testament? Ehrman (The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture), a professor of religion at UNC Chapel Hill, offers answers to these and other questions in this book, which rehearses the now-familiar story of the tremendous diversity of early Christianity and its eventual suppression by a powerful "proto-orthodox" faction. The proto-orthodox Christians won out over many other groups, and bequeathed to us the four Gospels, a church hierarchy, a set of practices and beliefs, and doctrines such as the Trinity. Ehrman eloquently characterizes some of the movements and Scriptures that were lost, such as the Ebionites and the Secret Gospel of Mark, as he outlines the many strands of Christianity that competed for attention in the second and third centuries. He issues an important reminder that there was no such thing as a monolithic Christian orthodoxy before the fourth century. While Ehrman sometimes raises interesting questions (e.g., are Paul's writings sympathetic to women?), his book covers territory already well-explored by others (Gregory Riley, The River of God; Elaine Pagels, Beyond Belief), generating few fresh or provocative insights. (Oct.) FYI: Oxford will simultaneously release Ehrman's edited anthology Lost Scriptures: Books That Did Not Make It into the New Testament, which contains new translations of many of the non-canonical writings analyzed in this book. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

"An illuminating book." * Noel Rooney, Fortean Times *

The author of more than ten books on New Testament history and early Christian writings, Ehrman (religious studies, Univ. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill) 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. In Lost Scriptures, Ehrman provides primary texts that did not pass muster for canonical Christianity. They do, however, provide a compelling portrait of competing convictions within Christianity up to the fourth century. Ehrman groups them by literary categories, e.g., gospels, epistles, and apocalypses. While many of these are widely available elsewhere, such as in Ehrman's own After the New Testament: A Reader in Early Christianity (1999), this work is far more comprehensive. In addition, the thematic structure makes this an indispensable companion piece to Lost Christianities. Instead of primary texts, Lost Christianities presents context, history, and commentary surrounding these important early materials. Ehrman argues for the importance of reflecting on what was both lost and gained when these books were excised from Christianity. He argues that the victorious party rewrote the history of the controversy, solidifying the canon along the way in order to support an orthodoxy that would brook no dissent. Scholars and lay readers alike will want to have these works side by side, since Ehrman's intent is to elucidate early Christian divisions through the texts that best represent these rifts. Both books are essential for seminaries, religious studies collections, and any library with a strong interest in early Christianity. Highly recommended.-Sandra Collins, Univ. of Pittsburgh Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

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