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95 of 97 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars First Steps in Christian Beginnings, May 29, 2000
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E. T. Veal (Chicago, Illinois USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: After the New Testament: A Reader in Early Christianity (Justice) (Paperback)
Though the Church in the Second and Third Centuries is a "Dark Age" in the minds of most Christians, the darkness is not due to lack of data. The 19th Century series "The Ante-Nicene Fathers" runs to 5,000-some large pages in small type - and it was not complete even in its own day. Subsequent discoveries, most notably the Nag Hammadi library of Gnostic-Christian literature, have added much to our knowledge or, oftentimes, to our perplexity.
Professor Ehrman's selection of readings gives an overview of this vast forest. He has selected 76 works, mostly self-contained excerpts, though a few are complete. In addition to familiar items that cannot be omitted from such a collection (e. g., the Epistle to Diognetos, large parts of the Epistles of St. Ignatios, and selections from Justin Martyr, Tertullian and Origen), we are given much that later generations found heretical, dubious or silly: apocryphal Scriptures, esoteric Gnostic speculation and writings by Christians who refused to recognize any separation between their faith and Judaism. The texts are arranged thematically (e. g., "The Attack on Christianity: Persecution and Martyrdom in the Early Church", "Anti-Judaic Polemic", "The Development of the Liturgy") in such a way that neighboring pieces illuminate one another.
The translations have all appeared in print before, and the editor deserves credit for choosing clear, readable versions. His introductions, while well-suited to the intended audience, are open to criticism. On the positive side, they are judicious and nonpartisan, avoiding (except on the topic of the ministry of women in the early Church, where no mainstream modernist can afford to be completely candid) speculation beyond the evidence. On the negative, they are so judicious that the untutored reader is left unaware of controversies that have a major impact on the meaning of the texts. To take a significant instance, Prof. Ehrman blandly states that "most scholars" date the manual of Church discipline known as the "Didache" to c. 100 A.D. True enough, but some date it much earlier and some much later, and its value as evidence depends crucially on the time and place from which it came.
All in all, for anyone who would like to know more about pre-Nicene Church history, this volume is, if not the last word, a useful and interesting preface.
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37 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Profitable Read, September 2, 2004
This review is from: After the New Testament: A Reader in Early Christianity (Justice) (Paperback)
I used this book in a course on Early Judaism and Early Christianity, which I took as an undergraduate. Although one may read a secondary reader, there is nothing like reading a well-chosen sampling of primary texts - and the selections here are just that: well-chosen.

Although the Church traces its lineage and heritage through a particular history - the New Testament, followed by the Apostolic Fathers and they themselves followed by the Church Fathers - in reading this volume one immediately notices a spectrum of thought, filled with every subtle shade of variation that one could imagine. It is in reading the differences and polemical writings contained here that makes the battles between traditions so fascinating: after the New Testament, one can rightly speak of earliest Christianities. Somehow or another, though, they all find their raison d'etre in Jesus, the itinerant Jewis Hasid from Nazareth.

Perhaps one may be generous enough to say that every writing in this book seeks to answer Christ's question to the Apostles: "Who do you say that I am?" From Gnostic writings and proto-orthodox Church Fathers to apocryphal Gospels and "lost" Epistles, one is thrust into a mass of movements, each of which claims to have the answer to this question. (And, as a side note, it turns out that the views of the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches are, in fact, among the most ancient of these various other traditions.)

Ehrman's introductions are short and to the point; they are helpful and note where writings develop earlier, more historical traditions, if writings were later declared orthodox or heretical and what the polemical context was of a particular piece. He also notes where texts were once used and where they were popular, and if and when they fell out of favor. Lastly, and most interestingly to this reader, is the short section that notes the development of the canon of the New Testament and how many books that are now taken for granted were hotly debated in those early centuries.

One could easily spend hundreds of dollars collecting the various works that were important to and written by early Christians/s/s/s/s/...; this book is a wonderful, well-written selection of those works. As a supplement to studies in early Christianity, Judaism and/or later Antiquity, it will prove to be quite helpful and informative. For the interested lay person, this book will also prove to be both informative and an excellent introduction to the subject. In short, it is a profitable read.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A nice serviceable volume of worthwhile texts, July 26, 2003
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This review is from: After the New Testament: A Reader in Early Christianity (Justice) (Paperback)
Professor Ehrmann has assembled a nice collection of Christian (orthodox and heterodox) writings from the period immediately following the New Testament and before the Council of Nicea. Although these are not brand new translations and all are readily available in other collections, the easy-to-read double column textbook format, the thematic way the texts are categorized, and the brief, helpful introductions make this anthology well worth its price. This volume and Ehrmann's other anthology THE NEW TESTAMENT AND OTHER EARLY CHRISTIAN WRITINGS are essential companions to his THE NEW TESTAMENT: A HISTORICAL INTRODUCTION TO THE EARLY CHRISTIAN WRITINGS.
On the frustrating side, there is much overlap between Ehrmann's two anthologies--in fact, I ended up buying them both because it was too much trouble to compare the tables of contents to see which volume included more non-New Testament works. Also somewhat disappointing was the fact that there are no bibliographic references to the supplied texts (each chapter introduction concludes with a short list of general topic books "For Further Reading"). I would, at least, like to know if there are other respected translations or commentaries in print on any of these texts. Another oddity: The Didache is split into three parts and presented out of sequence (with the document's brief chapter 6 being omitted altogether). This is not inappropriate, considering that Ehrmann has arranged his texts topically so readers can read significant key documents in relation to one another (such as, The Structure of Early Christianity [Did ch 11-15]; The Development of the Liturgy [Did 7-10]; Leading the Upright Life [Did 1-5]).
This is a nice, handy collection of key texts that I'm sure I'll return to over and over, especially as I read other books about the beginnings of the early Church.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Early Christianity, a serious study, December 14, 2007
By 
L. J. Austin "RevJim" (Chico, CA United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: After the New Testament: A Reader in Early Christianity (Justice) (Paperback)
Most Christian professionals have little understanding of what happened after the first half of the first century. This book carries perspective beyond that point to the understanding of the formation the Orthodox Chrtistianity (Western Orthodox). An essential tool for interpreting the New Testament and its developemnt into theologies that form the religion's beginning today. Christianity is not the religion of Jesus. It is the religion that developed about Jesus and this book helps us understand that early period. The interpretation of its impact on us today is up to current individuals.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars After the New Testament:A Reader in Early Christianity, August 4, 2009
By 
J. G. Hodges (Cheyenne, Wy. USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: After the New Testament: A Reader in Early Christianity (Justice) (Paperback)
After skimming the book, it is my opinion that this book would be best used in a study or classroom setting. It is my intention to present this book to my Sunday School teacher and consider it for study. The class is more progressive and most will accept it as history(not like most classes I have attended). Bart Ehrman's books are very easy reading. I have learned a great deal from all the books I have ordered.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommended!, May 1, 2011
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This review is from: After the New Testament: A Reader in Early Christianity (Justice) (Paperback)
For anyone interested in what happened in the span of time shortly after the death of Christ, this book contains a great collection of writings from many of the founding fathers of modern Christianity. These were the writers and ministers who defended the truth and helped spread it throughout the world. They were intelligent people who also give us a feel for the suffering they endured. This book is a good starting point for people who want to know more about that time.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Fast service, August 21, 2013
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This review is from: After the New Testament: A Reader in Early Christianity (Justice) (Paperback)
Since I have not started class yet I can only reply how quickly I got the book. Later after I start studying, I might adjust this. Good job.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent compilation of non-canonical works, December 1, 2012
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This review is from: After the New Testament: A Reader in Early Christianity (Justice) (Paperback)
Useful companion collection for my Bible studies. Suitable photos and introductory sections for each article/book. Also interesting accompanying historical information was provided which nicely complemented/supplemented the photos and graphics.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Historic Christianity, April 28, 2009
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This review is from: After the New Testament: A Reader in Early Christianity (Justice) (Paperback)
Mr Ehrman leaves no stone unturned in tapping the vast and ever expanding reservoir of archaeological and hermeneutic studies of the early Christian movement. At the top of his class and certainly a blessing to read compared to some of the much dryer dissertations one comes across in the religious studies genre.
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After the New Testament: A Reader in Early Christianity (Justice)
After the New Testament: A Reader in Early Christianity (Justice) by Bart D. Ehrman (Paperback - October 22, 1998)
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