While most people think that the twenty-seven books of the New Testament are the only sacred writings of the early Christians, this is not at all the case. A companion volume to Bart Ehrman's Lost Christianities, this book offers an anthology of up-to-date and readable translations of many non-canonical writings from the first centuries after Christ--texts that have been for the most part lost or neglected for almost two millennia.
Here is an array of remarkably varied writings from early Christian groups whose visions of Jesus differ dramatically from our contemporary understanding. Readers will find Gospels supposedly authored by the apostle Philip, James the brother of Jesus, Mary Magdalen, and others. There are Acts originally ascribed to John and to Thecla, Paul's female companion; there are Epistles allegedly written by Paul to the Roman philosopher Seneca. And there is an apocalypse by Simon Peter that offers a guided tour of the afterlife, both the glorious ecstasies of the saints and the horrendous torments of the damned, and an Epistle by Titus, a companion of Paul, which argues page after page against sexual love, even within marriage, on the grounds that physical intimacy leads to damnation.
In all, the anthology includes fifteen Gospels, five non-canonical Acts of the Apostles, thirteen Epistles, a number of Apocalypses and Secret Books, and several Canon lists. Ehrman has included a general introduction, plus brief introductions to each piece. This important anthology gives readers a vivid picture of the range of beliefs that battled each other in the first centuries of the Christian era.
Bart D. Ehrman is Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the author of The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings and Jesus, Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium.
"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
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