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The Missing Gospels: Unearthing the Truth Behind Alternative Christianities Paperback – October 9, 2007


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 260 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (October 9, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0785289062
  • ISBN-13: 978-0785289067
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #454,352 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The wild success of Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code has spawned a thriving cottage industry of both supporters and critics. One of Brown's more controversial assertions is that the emergence of Christian orthodoxy was based not on its merit but on the politics of the winning side. Here, Bock sums up the evangelical perspective as he challenges the idea that orthodoxy "emerged" at all. Rather, he argues, it survived its many challenges in the early centuries of the Christian church because it best reflected the thoughts and teachings of Jesus and the apostles. The author, who teaches New Testament at Dallas Theological Seminary, considers the idea that Christianity needs to be "reimagined"—reformed in the image of recent archeological and literary discoveries—to be an ill-advised attempt to rewrite history. He takes on those scholars who want to reinterpret Christianity in light of early Gnostic teachings that denied the oneness of the Father and the Son and spiritualized the gospel stories into myths. Bock recognizes this is pretty sophisticated stuff, and offers the reader a helpful chapter outlining times, names and ideas, providing a useful framework for the rest of his book. While not conclusively proving his thesis, Bock does provide a lively and readable survey of competing beliefs in Christianity's earliest days. (Aug. 8)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

Darrell Bock has written a timely and valuable study for anyone curious about the question of lost or missing gospels. Cutting his way through a great deal of hype and misinformation, he provides a solid, scholarly grounding to the early history and development of the gospel traditions. In the process, he makes nonsense of theories that Gnostic texts in any sense represented the suppressed core of Christian truth, concealed by a sinister institutional church. A breath of sanity!
-Philip Jenkins, Professor of History and Religious Studies, Pennsylvania State University

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Darrell L. Bock (PhD, University of Aberdeen) is professor of New Testament at Dallas Theological Seminary.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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This book is a serious, scholarly analysis of historical texts and theology written by a PhD professor.
D. MILLS
While there are some similarities, they are also major differences, and the traditional and alternative views were set apart from each other very early on.
Amazon Customer
Readers will be both challenged and encouraged through what they learn from this well researched and written text.
J. Barrett

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

78 of 84 people found the following review helpful By J. Barrett on July 27, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Darrell Bock has written an excellent followup book to his "Breaking The Da Vinci Code" (2004). Bock notes in the preface that "for more than ten years I have wanted to write this book for a popular audience... I would do this not primarily for those who study this material as a vocation, but for those who were hearing about it." Thus, the targeted audience makes this book as readable as it could be, yet coming from a top-notch scholar like Darrell Bock, it is also full of great information regarding such topics as Gnosticism, early Christian diversity, and orthodoxy in the early church (specifically the first two centuries).

While dealing indirectly with some of the claims from The Da Vinci Code, this book deals more directly with the claims of Walter Bauer and the New School as well as the claims of Bart Ehrman's "Lost Christianities" (2003) and "Lost Scriptures" (2003) and others.

The table of contents are as follows:

1) Making a scorecard: The Periods and Players of Early Christianity

2) Discussion fo a Key Alternative View: About Gnosticism and Its Definition

3) Dating the Origin of Gnosticism

4) Early Christianity's Diversity and Historical Judgments

5) The Claims of Walter Bauer and the Roots of the New School

6) The Nature of God and Creation, Part 1

7) The Nature of God and Creation, Part 2

8) Jesus: Divine and/or Human? Part 1

9) Jesus: Divine and/or Human? Part 2

10) The Nature of Humanity's Redemption: Spiritual or Also Physical? Part 1

11) The Nature of Humanity's Redemption: Spiritual or Also Physical?
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41 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on September 5, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Darrell Bock is one of our finest contemporary New Testament scholars. As a conservative evangelical, he is well placed to take on the latest trends and fads of liberal and radical theology. He did this quite well recently in his critique, Breaking the Da Vinci Code (Nelson, 2004)

Here he takes on the hype and hoopla associated with the discovery of various gospels and religious writings, especially those found at Nag Hammadi in Egypt in 1945. These discoveries have led to claims that many gospels and religious texts have been suppressed or discounted by the church.

In addition, there are now many who have been convinced that there has been some massive cover-up job by the church to suppress these so-called hidden gospels. Both the New Age movement, and Dan Brown, among others, have been making these sorts of claims.

Thus it is often claimed that the Christianity that exists today is not the real thing, and that we need to give credence to these various gospels, and the alternative understandings of Christianity. What are we to make of these claims? Is the traditional understanding of Christianity now obsolete? Does the Bible we now possess need radical altering to take into account, or include, these new discoveries?

In a nutshell, Bock says no. The four canonical gospels, part of the 27 books in the New Testament, are there, and these new gospels are not, for good reason. The early church was aware of these alternative books, and gave them short shrift. And so should we. While they may provide some helpful background understanding to Christianity, and demonstrate the richness and diversity of religious life in the early centuries, these new gospels and alternative Christianities are not to be equated with their orthodox counterparts.
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36 of 43 people found the following review helpful By D. MILLS on August 11, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In 1945 a set of ancient texts were found in a cave in Nag Hammadi, Egypt. These books described a different Jesus and a different God not to mention a completely different Christianity. Some believe and some scholars have written texts claiming that these findings call for a complete rethinking of the Christian religion. Dan Brown based his novel "The Da Vinci Code" partially on these findings. Darrell Bock writes this book to analyze these new findings. He analyzes their estimated dates as well as their content. It's not a complete study of the complete series of texts, but it's sufficient for the average reader.

"The Da Vinci Code" was an exciting mystery novel with twists around every corner based partly on history but mostly on fantasy. This book is a serious, scholarly analysis of historical texts and theology written by a PhD professor. Some may find a detailed, technical analysis like this to be boring.

The same author wrote "Breaking the Da Vinci Code" which covers the same material but not as indepth as this book.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By F. Martin on October 3, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Bock has written a careful analysis of modern claims about diversity in New Testament Christianity. He reasons slowly and deliberately to show the reasonableness of his conclusions. That careful analysis is both a positive and negative in the book. It is a positive in that it is convincing, but it is a negative in that the book sometimes moves so slowly that the reader can lose Bock's overall line of argument.

I wonder if this book will hold the attention of most lay readers. The chapters where Bock describes the teaching of the Gnostics and the New Testament can become overly long. Those chapters are necessary, however, to sustain Bock's argument. Without them there would be no reasoned argument but only assertion. That's exactly what the "new school" does, and Bock properly wants to avoid that.

For a quick summary of Bock's historical argument, read chapters 1, 4, 5, & 14. In the chapters where Bock lays out the teaching of the Gnostics and the NT, just read the summaries at the end of the chapters.
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