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Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture & the Faiths We Never Knew

4.01 of 5 stars 4.01  ·  rating details  ·  3,429 ratings  ·  148 reviews
The early Christian Church was a chaos of contending beliefs. Some groups of Christians claimed that there was not one God but two or twelve or thirty. Some believed that the world had not been created by God but by a lesser, ignorant deity. Certain sects maintained that Jesus was human but not divine, while others said he was divine but not human.

In Lost Christianities, B
Kindle Edition, 320 pages
Published (first published 2002)
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Skylar Burris
Feb 10, 2008 Skylar Burris rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: conspiracy theorists
Shelves: christianity
Here is a sentence from "Lost Christianities" that provides a clue to why the book is not really very sensational, as well as a clue to Ehrman's perspective: "It comes as a bit of a shock to most people to realize that the Church has not always had the New Testament." Perhaps it once came as a shock to Ehrman, but it does not come as a shock to any Christian with an inkling of Christian history. I am reminded of Alexander Pope's phrase, "A little learning is a dangerous thing." Ehrman seems to h ...more
Ken Robert
Ebionites, Marcionites, and Gnostics. Oh my.

This is a great introduction to the history of the competing theologies and practices of early Christians as can best be determined from ancient texts that have been passed down and rediscovered.

The author Bart D. Ehrman, professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, argues and, in my opinion, demonstrates that early Christianity was anything but a monolithic religion and that the beliefs that eventually came to be called orthodox
Justin Evans
When you search for this book on Goodreads, the first two results are Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol,' and Milton's 'Paradise Lost.' Not sure what to make of that.

As for Ehrman's book, I do know what to make of it. Ehrman is a solid scholar who seems to have decided that he needs that cash money baby, so he writes more or less respectable books in such a way that they sound like a Hollywood movie. So nobody argues with a person when they disagree with each other, instead, they "set out" to destroy
Mar 12, 2009 Tyler rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: All; History and Religious Studies Fans
Shelves: non-fiction
Of the four main strands of Christianity prevalent before the fourth century, only one had what it took to emerge as the religion we know today. Theology students are no doubt familiar with this history, but seldom does it make its way past the pulpit. So as a general reader, I found this survey of the earliest years of Christianity informative.

The book, for example, takes up the subject of gnosticism, an early Christian theology that considered matter itself to be evil. Lost Christianities dis
P.D. Bekendam

Most people who self-identify as “bible believing Christians” operate under a certain understanding of the history of Christianity. Whether their view of this history is learned or assumed, it usually goes something like this in a nutshell: "The canonized scripture is the inerrant word of God. The New Testament was formed sometime shortly after Jesus Christ’s resurrection and ascension—most of it from first-hand witnesses to Jesus’s ministry. Because Jesus’s teachings were so clear, and his grea
Steven Stark
If you are interested in early church history, then this a book for you. The followers of Christ were more diverse over the first few centuries of the Christian religion than they are even now. From the Ebionites, who followed the laws of Judaism and used only a version of Matthew as their gospel, to the Marcionites, who only used the letters of Paul and Luke and NO old testament, there were many different interpretations of the religion. This book explores these two groups plus the Gnostics and ...more
Rich DiSilvio
Another excellent book by Bart Erhman. Not only are the historical facts that he presents fascinating--and challenging to many diehard Christians-- but they're "crucial" for ALL to read and understand.

Religion is a very tough and sensitive topic. I know from my own book, which dedicates several chapters to religious beliefs and how these deep ideologies shaped the minds and actions of many great- and also evil -leaders.

The broad array of Christian sects that immediately sprouted up after Jesus
I admit I am an admirer to Bart D. Ehrman and read a lot his books. There are other sources that reveal the hidden books that were among the Christian and their writings that in my opinion most of what is written by Christians to some degree are inspired by the Holy Spirit. Most believers will confess they walk a better life when looking to what the leading of the Holy Spirit will teach.

In his book he shows that different religions since the time of Christianity, but what is missing is fundament
Христо Блажев
“Изгубените християнства” – истинската история на религията, която никога не е била единна:
Никога не съм разбирал защо се говори изобщо за християнство, след като то се проповядва в толкова различни варианти от десетки и стотици големи (католицизъм, православие, протестанство) и малки (мормони, Свидетели на Йехова, адвентисти и какви ли още не) секти. Пълна мешаница от антагонисти, всеки от които претендира за монопол върху върховната, неоспорима (разбира
This book provided quite an educational and eye-opening experience in learning of some historical aspects of the creation of the New Testament. The subtitle of the book appropriately describes "the Faiths that We Never Knew" and primarily focuses on their co-existence (and eventual congealment with the early proto-orthodox church). I was fascinated at the variation of beliefs, forgeries, disagreements and incredible amount of scholarly exploration.

I continuously wondered throughout the course of
A comprehensive and very accessible introduction to biblical history and early Christian sects from one of the leading researcher's on the subject. I particularly enjoyed the discussion on textual differences- those that happened by accident and those that were inspired by a need to bring the text into line with non-heretical philosophy, and the detective work done by scholars to distinguish which is which. The last chapter which dwells hypothetically on what if one of the other forms of early C ...more
Audio download of 24 lectures, 30 minutes each, and an 144 page lecture guide.
Before widely available written texts about the teachings of this relatively unknown Jesus of Nazareth in the first century CE, there were many different opinions about the true meaning of this man. Was he a man or God, or just a spirit of piety? Dr Erhman examines the history behind some of these questions, fairly, in my opinion. While it is pretty clear that Bart has an agenda, I think he lays out the fact so that th
Lee Harmon
One of Ehrman’s best, I think. Thought-provoking and speculative, yet grounded, this book explores alternative early Christianities before “Proto-Orthodox Christianity” won the battle and shoved the rest aside. You’ll read about the Ebionites, the Marcionites, Gnosticism, and the evolving orthodox church. Ehrman puts all on even ground so that each has an equal voice, because recent discoveries such as the Dead Sea Scrolls have proven just how diverse Christian practices really were back in the ...more
This is an okay introduction to the history of the construction of the Christian canon, and a discussion of some of the theological ideas held by various ancient Christian sects which didn't survive antiquity. I did learn some things which were new to me—about the Marcionites and Ebionites—but never really got into the book otherwise.

Ehrman's not a particularly good writer on a technical level (I don't think it's necessary to be that repetitive even in a work of popular history on a sensitive t
Audio download of 24 lectures, 30 minutes each, and an 144 page lecture guide.
Before widely available written texts about the teachings of this relatively unknown Jesus of Nazareth in the first century CE, there were many different opinions about the true meaning of this man. Was he a man or God, or just a spirit of piety? Dr Erhman examines the history behind some of these questions, fairly, in my opinion. While it is pretty clear that Bart has an agenda, I think he lays out the fact so that th
Growing up in a Christian family, the Bible just was. It existed, it was the word of God. But how did that come to be? The first time I learned about the authorship of the Bible was interestingly enough, in my Catholic High School's Freshman Religious Studies class. I learned about the source material for the Gospels (Q) and other interesting tidbits. Still, it wasn't discussed much, or in great detail.

As it turns out, there were many forms of early Christianity. Their teachings varied widely fr
Kristopher Swinson
I can't recommend this to anyone lacking a thorough familiarity with the pitfalls in higher criticism, which can ultimately lead one to question everything and believe very little. (I've often said I would heartily shake hands with anyone who'd read J. Reuben Clark's Why the King James Version, of their own accord.) For one, even where there's an ambiguity over the authorship of Hebrews within the LDS faith (see Szink, in How The New Testament Came to Be), the inspiration thereof was never a mat ...more
What I liked most about this series of lectures was the substantial context it provided about the ancient writings that were included or rejected from the canon we now know as the Bible. Ehrman maintains an objective tone, though you can tell he doesn't support some of the interpretations that are common today. I found his approach to be thoughtful and enlightening. A few most notable insights for me included that the 27 books we know as today's New Testament were originally selected by one man ...more
Chuck Springer
I must say that this book was a great follow-up to " Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why" by Bart Ehrman. I would highly recommend this book for anyone interested in the origins and early evolution of the Christian religion.

Essentially, in the years that followed the life of Jesus Christ, a wide variety of beliefs went under the name "Christian," including many later denounced as heresy. This book opens the reader's mind to the possibility that the traditional "orth
Really really good book. It has finally given me the motivation to start reading The Bible and gave a really interesting history of early Christianity. I think the author did a great job of keeping the book very academic and factual, especially with such a sensitive topic as religion. It did this without ridiculing the religion so it was overall a very enjoyable read.

I think the author did a good job of making this accessible to the lay person. Most obscure academic terms are spelled out and I n
Robb Bridson
This is a book that reveals some of the "sausage-making" of religion. To the nonbeliever, it's an amazing history lesson, but I'd imagine to the believer, it is a challenge to faith-- not so much to faith in God but certainly to faith in the institutions that claim to speak for Him.

That said, the book makes it clear why the Pauline model succeeded and the others failed (the book goes perfectly with Rodney Stark's classic "How New Religions Succeed") and gives an eye-opening glimpse into how not
Neil Hanson
Ehrman is very good at speaking in plain and understandable language about topics that folks often try and make complex and hard to understand. Folks who want no part of asking hard questions about the modern western orthodoxy will not like this or others of his books. You can see this plainly in the reviews and comments folks leave regarding his books.

However, if you're someone who asks the hard questions and you're willing to evolve and grow your faith as you learn more, then you'll very likel
This is a fascinating book about the diverse early christian cults that existed in the decades immediately following the death of Jesus. Ehrman is a careful and insightful scholar who not only offers well thought our opinions on the subject, but also explains how the majority of scholars have reached such conclusions. My only hesitation in recommending this book is for those who have read some of Ehrman's other works. This is because some of the information contained here is repeated from earlie ...more
Барт Ърман задълбава в първите векове от н.е, в изследване на корените на християнството. Какво е било то преди Новият завет да бъде изобщо съставен? В какво са вярвали ранните християни и как са поддържали така желаното от тях единомислие? Колко версии има за Христос и какво е останало до ден днешен. Какви са били първите ереси и какво всъщност е ерес? Със сигурност, независимо дали сте вярващ или атеист, тези теми трябва да представляват интерес за вас, защото ние малко или много сме продукт н ...more
As an introduction to the various forms of christianity, e.g. Gnosticism or Marcionism, that existed in the first few hundred years of this odd spin-off of Judaism. Ehrman, a recognized authority of early christianity also is a skilled writer, making this a fine introduction to the early chaos that in time coalesced into the christian orthodoxy. If happen to believe in churchy stuff, or just have an interest in the early history of the most influential religious movement in the history of especi ...more
Mike Porter
An outstanding book. It is the history of the creation of the New Testament from the earliest copies we have today, some 5400, to the adoption of the New Testament we have today which occurred in the late 4th Century.

What I found fascinating was the evidence that exists for the many, many sects of early Christianity that emerged after the death of Jesus. Some sects were aligned with Judaism, some were Gentile only, others were very different like the Gnostics. Discoveries in the 20th Century of
Ehrman racconta (in modo particolareggiato e accattivante) di tutti i cristianesimi diffusi nei primi anni dopo la morte di Cristo: ebioniti, adozionisti, marcioniti, proto-ortodossi e gnostici. Parla dei loro scritti, delle loro lotte, di chi vinse. Ci spiega quanto sia stata incerta la lotta, fino all'ultimo. Fornisce una serie di ipotesi convincenti sul perché vinsero quelli che oggi chiamiamo "ortodossi", e che a noi paiono gli ovvi vincitori solo perché siamo nati e cresciuti da ortodossi.
Rossrn Nunamaker
I had read this book around ten years ago and decided to re-read it.

I'm not a theology student, but for whatever reason I find the period of time of Jesus' death and the two centuries immediately following very intriguing.

This interest led me to reading several of the books that never made it into the New Testament, which led me to wonder why?

Bart Ehrman's "Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew" introduces some answers and explanations to that question.

Excellent read on nascent currents in early Christianity, delivers an overview of the various Factions -- ebionites, marcionites, gnostics and proto-orthodox (author label for the segment that eventually emerged victorious). Describes content of various apocryphal gospels, epistles and revelations used by the various factions, focusing on the "lost" manuscripts, many of which surfaced in 20th century as a result of dead sea scrolls and nag hammadi discoveries.
Susan Ozmore
Ehrman discusses various early Christian sects as well as the texts which inform us of their beliefs. This includes groups such as the Ebionites, Marcionites and the Gnostics. He compares their beliefs to the proto-orthodox beliefs which would eventually become the official tenets of the Christian church. Much of what we know about these groups comes from their critics, early church fathers who viewed them as heretics. Many of the "heretic's" sources have been suppressed or destroyed. Ehrman sor ...more
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Bart D. Ehrman is the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill. He came to UNC in 1988, after four years of teaching at Rutgers University. At UNC he has served as both the Director of Graduate Studies and the Chair of the Department of Religious Studies.

A graduate of Wheaton College (Illinois), Professor Ehrman received both his Masters of Div
More about Bart D. Ehrman...
Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible & Why We Don't Know About Them God's Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question - Why We Suffer Forged: Writing in the Name of God Lost Scriptures: Books That Did Not Make It Into the New Testament

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