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295 of 326 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How Did We Get the Bible and Modern Christianity?, September 29, 2003
This review is from: The Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew (Hardcover)
Review of Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew, by Bart D. Ehrman
Reviewer: Mark Lamendola
The advice "Don't discuss politics or religion" usually makes good sense, because such discussions often pit one uninformed opinion against another-with a net negative result.
What happens, however, when a person undertakes massive research to present an objective, respectful, scholarly view of a religious subject? One possible result is a captivating book that opens your mind and touches your heart. Bart Erhman achieved that result with this book.
Ehrman discusses the various agendas of the authors behind both "scripture" and "heresy." He discusses how various writings supported the case for one faction of Christianity or another. He discusses what these writings were, how they came to be, how they were discovered after centuries of being lost, and how scholars have analyzed them.
During all of this discussion, Ehrman doesn't push an agenda of his own. Indeed, he appears to explain the views and goals of each faction without taking the side of any of them. Consequently, the book moves the reader to a deeper, more informed, appreciation of Christianity. That appreciation creates a desire to replace divisive dogma with healing spirituality.
The New Testament did not exist in early Christian times. It came about much later, and was a weapon in the battle for dominance among various factions. It served to unite many disparate churches into an orthodoxy. But, that orthodoxy necessarily negated the views of those whose "scriptures" weren't included in the New Testament. The New Testament is a collection of writings that support a particular set of views of Christianity (Ehrman explains why this is both a good thing and a bad thing).
Many of the canonized books are not what they are commonly purported to be. In fact, some of them are forgeries. At first glance, such a statement seems inflammatory. Perhaps that's why Ehrman takes the reader through the evidence-rather than making simple proclamations. Here's a tidbit to consider. You may not know that III Timothy was considered for canonization, but then dropped-while II Timothy was included though it was known to be a forgery. What about the other books of the New Testament? And what about the other books that didn't make it into the New Testament? Ehrman answers those questions in a manner that does not attack Christianity, but instead reframes it in the spirit of truth.
Many churches have split over differences in "following God's Word." Often, the underlying disagreements arise over interpretations of a passage in the New Testament. The "combatants for Christ" may mean well, but they both are most likely basing their differing interpretations on a forgery-rather than an Apostolic letter. As a result, we have many sects of Christianity rather than one true way.
As varied as our flavors of Christianity are today, however, the variance was much greater in the early years of Christianity. Understanding this basic fact and understanding where our divisive doctrines came from will help anyone be a better member of the Christian family. For anyone who seeks to achieve such a goal, this book tills the soil and plants the seed. If you can do just a little watering and weeding, your faith will grow like a mustard seed.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 11, 2007 10:39:38 AM PDT
Bahr Naseer says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on Feb 24, 2009 2:29:03 PM PST
Enigma says:
M.L.

>>> During all of this discussion, Ehrman doesn't push an agenda of his own.

Sigh, if the author didn't have an agenda he would have never written a book. The very fact that you are reading a book is because the author has an opinion on this matter and is putting forth his agenda trying to sell it to the public.

Bart D. Ehrman, whether you agree with him or not, has a very strong agenda and he has written a multitude of books preaching his doctrines, dogmas and beliefs. It does not take much research to find out that he has a minority viewpoint in many cases and that most secular historians disagree with most of his hypothesis.

It's one thing to agree with an authors argument but we should all be aware that their argument is agenda driven.

Steven Tooley

In reply to an earlier post on May 17, 2012 4:22:43 PM PDT
Steven, the matter is that Erhman presents evidence, so the reader is able to look at this evidence for themselves and draw their own conclusions. Everyone has a degree of bias, but the study of history takes this into account. What we need to do is to look at the evidence presented, and sift through it for ourselves. By the way, historians always disagree; it provides us with an opportunity to publish more papers. When someone writes a doctorate, for example, most will disagree because it is new research. New research is not usually welcomed by the majority. Yet whether people agree or not is not the point. The point is the evidence. He cites his sources - all one has to do is examine them. It's not as if he invented his evidence - that is the point. One is welcome to draw different conclusions.
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M. L Lamendola
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   

Location: Merriam, KS USA

Top Reviewer Ranking: 1,597