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Lost Scriptures: Books that Did Not Make It into the New Testament Paperback – September 15, 2005
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"The author of more than ten books on New Testament history and early Christian writings, Ehrman 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."--Library Journal (on Lost Christianities and Lost Scriptures)
"History, it's often said, is written by the victors. Bart Ehrman argues in a pair of intriguing new books that the same could be said of the Bible's New Testament.... Will shock more than a few lay readers."--The Boston Globe
"Lost Scriptures provides a good sample of the literature and illustrates nicely the complex and often exotic world of second- and third-century Christianity."--America
"Fresh authoritative translations of the texts that fell outside in the canon."--Christian Science Monitor
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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.
Confoundingly, many of the books are only published in fragmentary form. In many cases, this was not optional because of the fact that only small fragments of the source documents exist; in the astounding Gospel of Peter, for example, we have only what appear to be the last few chapters, beginning with Pilate at the trial. While this was usually not Ehrman's fault, it was rather frustrating at other times when he truncated some of the books himself, presumably in the interest of saving space.
I read this book in tandem with Ehrman's "Lost Christianities," and I highly recommend doing so. "Lost Christianities" provides historical context for the raw materials of "Lost Scriptures." Brace yourself before beginning, however, because both books are dense and demand considerable attention to detail.Read more ›
I was reared in a setting of somewhat fundamentalist preaching, yet values at home were those of inquiry and evidence toward the world in general. Ehrman's approach is much more to my liking than reiteration of a dogma I've already heard, documented by passages from scripture pre-selected to prove a certain view.Read more ›
These, in other words, were ancient Christian books that Constantine's scholars saw fit to view as heresies, or did not include in the Council's version of what constituted "true" scripture for whatever reason.
The author holds the chair of religion at the University of North Carlina at Chapel Hill, and has translated many of the works himself. He is a recognized, respected scholar in his field.
Although this is a book for laymen in that it reads easily, and is bereft of the usual scholarly jargon, the individual gospels, letters, and acts, etc., are often murky and hard to make sense of.
I think it is because we are unfamiliar with the idioms in use at the time they were written, and the culture from which the writers sprang.
For example, today, to indicate anger in our culture, many people use the uncouth, course phrase "pissed off." That language is tantamount to Aramaic in the beginning of the current era, which then was the language in common use by the people in the Holy land. In a thousand years, our language will have evolved as it has continually in the past. It will be interesting to see how scholars, translating writings from today that use the term will translate the phrase which, although we use it to indicate mild anger, actually will translate to something to do with urination.
And so it goes.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
By the beginning of the 4th Century AD there was not a single belief system regarding Christian doctrine. Read morePublished 1 day ago by S. Martin Shelton
Prof. Ehrman writes clearly so that a layperson can understand some of the more technical issues around the historical critical approach to understanding the early Christian... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Shunyata
WOW, what a book, if you are a Christian, you need to read thisPublished 3 months ago by Tracy Butler