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

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  5,436 ratings  ·  215 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
Paperback, 294 pages
Published September 15th 2005 by Oxford University Press (first published 2002)
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Skylar Burris
Jan 01, 2008 rated it it was ok
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
P.D. Bekendam
Aug 10, 2012 rated it really liked it

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
Justin Evans
Oct 14, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: history-etc
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 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: All; History and Religious Studies Fans
Shelves: history
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
Erik Graff
Sep 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Christians
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: religion
Bart Ehrman's books are all quite readable and understandable to any acquainted with the texts of the various Christian bibles. This volume, companion to his 'Lost Scriptures', considers, broadly, the formation of the various Christian canons in the fourth and fifth centuries and what was lost, textually and religiously, in the formulation and enforcement of orthodoxy. Like the other volume, some of the rejected texts are discussed, but his focus is on the 'Christian' groups behind those scriptu ...more
Steven Stark
Jan 29, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Lee Harmon
Jul 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 07, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Rich DiSilvio
Jun 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Pamela Tucker
Aug 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Jan 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Danielle Deforest
Jul 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Easy read on Christianity when it wasn’t Catholic, Protestant or Baptist, which is believing in Jesus our savior as both human and Devine. It was whether you believed in one God, two God or 365! That Jesus was Gnostic instead of Jewish. That you disregarded all of the Old Testament and it’s traditions or kept them close. Who knew the truth because there was no New Testament until the 3rd century. This book details the battles that took place between these Christianities (sp?), their writings, wh ...more
Jul 26, 2017 rated it did not like it
Biased scholarship, misleading turns of phrase, superficial understanding of Christianity and heresy. It is an embarrassment that a scholar would write this.
Mark Collins
May 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
So I downloaded the audiobook "Lost Christianities," but it is apparently a series of recorded lectures by Ehrman under the same title. I am including this review under the book "Lost Christianities" because I'm seeing that there's a lot of overlap in content if not form.

This was a great overview of many of the early Christian sects during the years following Jesus's death. The main takeaway message seems to be that there was no single "Christianity," until the fourth century (with the Council
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
Dean Summers
Bart D. Ehrman, Lost Christianites: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew. ISBN 9780195141832.

In Lost Christianities, Bart Ehrman has written two books in one. Book One is a very fine survey of the wide variety of religions of the Second and Third Centuries C.E. that each claimed to represent Jesus Christ, a larger-than-life figure from the early First Century C.E. You may have heard of Jesus Christ. He is the one whose birth parts the Western calendar into B.C.E. and C.E. (form
Jul 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: classics, philosophy, tgc
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
J.M. Hushour
Aug 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
I'm about as religious as a brick and it's a topic of conversation that often finds me slinking towards the nearest bottle of Hendrick's because people who like to argue about it are usually irreconcilable, insufferable (especially atheists!), and probably not drunk enough.
However, I do like to read about religion especially its history since religions are created and minded and tended by people, mostly, who have no powers, little-to-no foresight and who usually contain questionable odors, the l
Jan 25, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
T. K. Elliott (Tiffany)
I can unequivocally recommend this book for anyone who wants to learn about the early history of Christianity and How It Got The Way It Is.

Ehrman writes from the perspective of a historian, not a theologian, so he is not trying to push one particular view as "true" - his intent is to discuss what all these disparate people, who all called themselves Christians, actually believed. What we have nowadays, he makes plain, is the result of a sort of last-man-standing war of attrition.

There's probably
Rossrn Nunamaker
Mar 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, religion
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.

Chuck Springer
Oct 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I now understand why Ehrman could sell so many books, beyond just writing things about Christianity that are sometimes controversial. He happens to be an extremely engaging writer, and at least in this text, he is one who comes across as quite reasonable. I had in some ways expected not only to largely disagree with Ehrman but also to be angered by him. This book did neither to me. This is not to say that I agreed with everything that Ehrman had to say, but he gave me a lot to think about, and w ...more
Robb Bridson
Jun 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
May 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
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. ...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

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