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Lost Scriptures: Books that Did Not Make It into the New Testament (2003)

by Bart D. Ehrman

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1,210613,227 (3.62)12
"We may think of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament as the only sacred writings of the early Christians, but this is not at all the case. Lost Scriptures offers an anthology of up-to-date and readable translations of many non-canonical writings from the first centuries after Christ - texts that have been for the most part lost or neglected for almost two millennia." "Lost Scriptures gives readers a vivid picture of the range of beliefs that battled each other in the first centuries of the Christian era. It is an essential resource for anyone interested in the Bible or the early Church."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)
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A collection of non-canonical Christian writings, some complete and some fragmentary; many with new translations by Ehrman. Ehrman provides a brief description and historical context of each one. An excellent resource for anyone interested in early Christian writings beyond the Bible. ( )
  FriendshipFLibrary | May 19, 2018 |
I don't know how to rate this book since there is minimal, but appropriate, comment by the author. It is essentially a representative collection of documents written around the time of the Christ event (50-300 C.E.) many of which were discovered after the current canon was "established." All of these writings were excluded from current canon usage either because they were not available during the selection process, they were hidden, they were censored, or they were part of the canon of branches of Christianity that died out and were lost.

This book is a companion and sequel to Ehrman's book The Lost Christianities which gives the historical background of the fits and starts, successes and failures of the early believers. I would strongly recommend reading that book first, and there are frequent references to it in the footnotes. The current book is a collection of the writings from that time and includes much from the recently discovered Nag Hammadi library and other recently found sources as well as other writings passed over for one reason or another.

Ehrman is a biblical archaeologist and as such deals with facts, translations and examples. It is not a book of faith and belief, and Ehrman gives only a brief contextual introduction to each translation. The translations contain letters, gospels and apocalyptic writings not found in the current canon, and those who hold the current biblical canon as "inerrant" may well be shocked when they venture outside of their familiar comfort zone to realize what's out there and what got left behind. Highly recommended to open minded readers who want to see the bible in its historical context. ( )
1 vote mldavis2 | Jun 23, 2014 |
Excellent resource on important writings that offer alternative explanations to the events and people around the Christian mythos. ( )
1 vote uujeff | Feb 13, 2013 |
In my view, Bart Ehrman is the most important New Testament scholar of this generation. I have heard him speak, have listened to his tapes and have read his books. He absolutely exudes competency, always pointing out that he is looking at his subject from the point of view of a historian. In the case of "Lost Scriptures," this means he will not be an advocate for or against any particular book that did not make the cut. Instead, he will try to put each book in its historical perspective considering the political tone of the times: "We should not overlook the circumstance that in some times and places these 'other' writings were in fact sacred books, read and revered by devout people who understood themselves to be Christians...for the New Testament itself is the collection of books that EMERGED from the conflict, the group of books advocated by the side of the disputes that eventually established itself as dominant and handed the books down to posterity as 'the' Christian Scriptures...moreover, the victors in the struggles to establish Christian orthodoxy not only won their theological battles, they also rewrote the history of the conflict; later, readers, then, naturally assumed that the victorious views had been embraced by the vast majority of Christians from the very beginning."
3 vote oldmanriver1951 | Jan 30, 2008 |
Fascinating reading. Just don't take it as Gospel! ( )
1 vote jontseng | Jan 4, 2007 |
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First words of the reconstructed Gospel of the Nazoreans — It is written in a certain Gospel that is called "according to the Hebrews" (if in any event anyone is inclined to accept it, not as an authority, but to shed some light on the question we have posed) that another rich man asked [Jesus], "Master, what good thing must I do to have life?"
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Even though millions of people world-wide read the New Testament — whether from curiosity or religious devotion — very few ask what this collection of books actually is or where it comes from, how it came into existence, who decided which books to include, on what grounds, and when.
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"We may think of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament as the only sacred writings of the early Christians, but this is not at all the case. Lost Scriptures offers an anthology of up-to-date and readable translations of many non-canonical writings from the first centuries after Christ - texts that have been for the most part lost or neglected for almost two millennia." "Lost Scriptures gives readers a vivid picture of the range of beliefs that battled each other in the first centuries of the Christian era. It is an essential resource for anyone interested in the Bible or the early Church."--BOOK JACKET.

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We may think of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament as the only sacred writings of the early Christians, but this is not at all the case. Lost Scriptures offers an anthology of up-to-date and readable translations of many non-canonical writings from the first centuries after Christ--texts that have been for the most part lost or neglected for almost two millennia.
Here is an array of remarkably varied writings from early Christian groups whose visions of Jesus differ dramatically from our contemporary understanding. Readers will find Gospels supposedly authored by the apostle Philip, James the brother of Jesus, Mary Magdalen, and others. There are Acts originally ascribed to John and to Thecla, Paul's female companion; there are Epistles allegedly written by Paul to the Roman philosopher Seneca. And there is an apocalypse by Simon Peter that offers a guided tour of the afterlife, both the glorious ecstasies of the saints and the horrendous torments of the damned, and an Epistle by Titus, a companion of Paul, which argues page after page against sexual love, even within marriage, on the grounds that physical intimacy leads to damnation. In all, the anthology includes fifteen Gospels, five non-canonical Acts of the Apostles, thirteen Epistles, a number of Apocalypes and Secret Books, and several Canon lists. Ehrman has included a general introduction, plus brief introductions to each piece.
Lost Scriptures gives readers a vivid picture of the range of beliefs that battled each other in the first centuries of the Christian era. It is an essential resource for anyone interested in the Bible or the early Church.
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