Lost Scriptures: Books that Did Not Make It into the New Testament
While most people think that the twenty-seven books of the New Testament are the only sacred writings of the early Christians, this is not at all the case. A companion volume to Bart Ehrman's Lost Christianities, this book 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 Apocalypses and Secret Books, and several Canon lists. Ehrman has included a general introduction, plus brief introductions to each piece. This important anthology gives readers a vivid picture of the range of beliefs that battled each other in the first centuries of the Christian era.
Decide Which Pill You'd Like To Take, Mr. Anderson...
By diamondbookstore "diamondbookstore" - June 19, 2006
If you come into this book with a good knowledge of the Bible but a fairly vague knowledge of other ancient Christian works, as I did, you're in for a mind-bending treat.
Ehrman picks a number of "Lost Scriptures" -- that is, books which were at one time considered sacred or near-sacred Christian works but have, for various reasons, not been included in the current Bible -- and he gives a brief prelude to each before offering their English translations. He breaks these books up into 5 groups: the Lost Gospels (think Gospels), Acts (think Acts), Letters (think Paul's Epistles), Apocalypses (think Revelations), and Sacred Cannons. The last section is merely a sample of some lists of what ancient Christians considered sacred books.
What this book deals with is primarily the source documents. That is to say, assigning context to said documents is not this book's mission. Instead, it tries to give a survey of what we now call lost Scriptures... read more
A Good Reference For Those Interested In Early Christianity
By shr nfr "silver944" - June 21, 2004
In this book Dr. Ehrman does an enumeration of many of the early Christian Gospels, Epistles, Apocalypses, and so forth that were written by some of the early Christians other than the proto-orthodox. Due to the nature of their authorship, these gospels did not make it into our current canon and are widely unknown by most people. As with all Dr. Ehrman's books, it is well written, although his contribution to the book is a brief introduction to each of the historical texts. Its primary audience appears to be those people who have an interest in the area and desire a brief statement about the group who wrote the book followed by what text is available from the early writings. It is by no means as exhaustive as "The New Testament Apocrypha" in two volumes by Wilhelm Schneemelcher and R. McL. Wilson. For most people though, this will not impede their appreciation of the topic and serve as a very good introduction to the area.
They Didn't Make The Cut
By The Spinozanator "Spinozanator" - July 28, 2005
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... read more