Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew [Bart D. Ehrman] on musicmarkup.info Lost Christianities and millions of other books are available for instant access. view Kindle eBook | view Audible audiobook. Bart D. Ehrman, Lost Christianities: The Battle for Scripture and Faiths We Never Knew, Oxford University Press, ; isbn , pages, hardcover. Later in the service, my sermon will explore “Lost Christianities and Banned Hill Religious Studies professor Bart Ehrman: Lost Christianities.
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Ehrman has published dozens of book reviews and more than 20 scholarly articles for University Press, ); Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and. Lost Christianities. The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew. Bart D. Ehrman. Publication Date - September ISBN: Lost Christianities Bart Ehrman - Free ebook download as PDF File .pdf), Text File .txt) or read book online for free.
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, Bart D. Ehrman offers a fascinating look at these early forms of Christianity and shows how they came to be suppressed, reformed, or forgotten. All of these groups insisted that they upheld the teachings of Jesus and his apostles, and they all possessed writings that bore out their claims, books reputedly produced by Jesus's own followers.
Perhaps the reason Ehrman does not much explore the question of which group most accurately portrays Christ is that the most likely answer is not sensational. It seems likely that the proto-orthodox interpreted Christ's teachings more accurately than did the Manicheans or the Gnostics.
In Ehrman's sensational version of events, the proto-orthodox, through their "machinations," destroyed these other forms of Christianity, which are themselves occasionally portrayed as more virtuous or liberating than orthodox Christianity. But, how, exactly, do the proto-orthodox, who at the time had no state power and were occasionally subject to persecution, carry out their "machinations" except by intellectual persuasion and accepted authority which itself implies that orthodoxy was established earlier than Ehrman suggests.
Ehrman proceeds almost as if these "lost" writings were lost because the "proto-orthodox" collected every existing copy and set them ablaze in a giant bonfire, and not at all because they were the product of unconvincing religions that ultimately died out after failing to adequately portray Christ to the world.
Most of these "varieties" are not so much lost Christianities as dead Christianities. Despite all this criticism, I give the book two stars an "okay" rating because it contains so much information, all in one place, on early Christian and Gnostic literature, early sects, and the history of Christianity.
I cannot give it more because the information comes obviously processed and arranged to persuade the reader that orthodox Christianity has no more reason to consider itself orthodox than any other form. Religious labels need some definition to be useful at all. And to some degree it may be recognized in our own personal search for truth. Living in harmony with the divine source of life, however it may be conceived, is said to confer present and future happiness.
Ideally we might hope for, even expect, a united front of the spiritually faithful; but opposing forces arise here too, sowing discord and conflict.
Religious differences are often attributed to false or misguided teachers, but many traditions also allude to a more subtle tension be- tween prophets and priests, contemplatives and clerics, and between seekers of divine wisdom and believers of popular faith.
The Assyrians defeated the northern kingdom of Israel in bce and the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem in bce, taking Jewish leaders, priests, and others into exile. After release from captivity, some Jews returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple, reform the worship of Yahweh and, according to 2 Esdras, Ezra was inspired to dictate the 24 public and 70 secret books of the Hebrew scripture to replace those lost in the Exile.
Foreign oppression continued, however, and the later prophets, no doubt influenced by Zoroastrian concepts garnered during the Exile, began to see this not so much as punishment but the work of cosmic powers opposed to God. The living and the dead will all be raised to stand before the judgment of God: the wicked will be condemned to eternal torment or extinction, and those finding favor will live abundantly on a renewed and supernal earth, enjoying the heavenly reign of God.
This Intertestamental Period was a time of intense messianic expectations, during which a similar apocalyptic, bap- tist Jewish sect emerged and diversified into a multi-branched move- ment soon to be called Christianity. For example, while the Qumran writings frequently refer to secret mysteries reserved for the elect and the importance of spiritual knowledge, they clearly glorify the one Lord, his Law, and the goodness of his creation, in contrast to some later Jewish-Christian gnostic texts critical of Yahwistic monotheism:.
My eyes have gazed on that which is eternal, on wisdom concealed from men, on knowledge and wise design hidden from the sons of men;. For He will heal the wounded, and revive the dead and bring good news to the poor.
Most schol- ars date this onset to sometime during the reign of Alexander Janneus in the early first century bce, a prophecy which may have influenced the later Talmudic stories which place Jesus in the same era. However, the messiah did not appear or was not recognized, and the Qumran community began revising its expectations — and writings — to account for the delay. With the Roman capture of Jerusalem, destruction of the Second Temple, and widespread repression in ce, the scrolls were buried in nearby caves and the community dispersed.
He has also translated a number of extracanonical Christian writings included in a companion volume. Not all of these writings are gnostic; in fact many are quite orthodox, but for whatever reason did not make the final cut. This volume comprises 14 gospels, 5 acts of the apostles, 14 epistles and related writings, 9 apocalypses and revelatory treatises, and 5 canonical lists of Christian writings.
Many pseudonymous writings, however, involve radically different motives than forgery or deception. This pseudepigraphical pattern continued within the mystical tradi- tion in the centuries that followed. The clear tendency toward asceticism as a way of preparing for the reception of the mystical tradition, which is already attested to in the last chapter of the Book of Enoch, becomes a fundamental principle for the apocalyptics, the Essenes, and the circle of the Merkabah [Throne] mystics who succeeded them.
Further, while labeling the Gospel of Thomas a forgery on the same grounds, Ehrman exempts the canonical Gospels. In his view, their unknown writers made no special authorial claims, even though later people said they were written by Matthew, Mark, etc. I think this distinction is dubious and leaves the Gospels open to the same charge. These examples illustrate how difficult it is to evaluate the authen- ticity and value of any religious text.
Altered, distorted, and spurious writings nevertheless were and are a major problem for every religion relying on scripture. Throughout the book Ehrman explores these and other issues of textual development and transmission within early Christian communities. These communities are difficult to charac- terize because information is often scant, inconsistent, and prejudiced; moreover, like modern Christian sects, they sometimes modified their views, differed among themselves, and split.
Hence Ehrman depicts what is thought to be representative.
As to secret teachings, aside from the virtually certain inference of Jewish esotericism, there are several references in the Pseudo-Clementine literature used by the Ebionites, e.
While Ehrman discusses the Pseudo-Clementines, he does not, however, mention this aspect. At the other pole were the Marcionites, founded by the second- century theologian, Marcion, son of a Christian bishop and a bishop himself. He had been troubled by the dichotomy between the wrathful, vengeful, and harshly punitive God of the Hebrew Bible and the loving, merciful, and forgiving God preached by Jesus.
Sent by the former, Christ was neither the promised messiah nor was he born of a woman. Ehrman continues with a broad survey of the origins and tenets of Christian Gnostics who attempted to address the question of why the wicked prosper and the righteous suffer — and their writings which depict the material world as the imperfect sometimes evil creation of an ignorant creator, usually identified with Yahweh.
Part 4 — What Is Gnosticism? Not baptism alone sets us free, but gnosis [knowledge]: who we were, what we have become; where we were, whereinto we have been thrown; whither we hasten, whence we are redeemed; what is birth and what rebirth.
Individuals and groups differed mainly on questions as to who is saved, how and when redemption or enlightenment is to be accomplished, what are true conceptions of God and the universe, and why evil and suffering exist — questions which touch the deepest and most sensitive issues of human life and conduct. Scripture and doctrine ultimately derive from them, yet their underlying basis — the revelation of divine wisdom — presupposes prophets, sages, seers, mystics, and anointed ones who are the receivers and transmitters of spiritual knowledge.
Heresy, however, is a word with an interesting but little known history. Each sect hairesis was a community to which its adherents chose to belong — just as a modern day Christian might choose to be a Methodist or a Catholic. But now obstacles to it spring up within Christianity itself.
The devil cannot resist sowing weeds in the divine wheat field — and he is successful at it. True Christians blinded by him abandon the pure doctrine.
In the 19th century, as newly-discovered Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Persian, and Asian religious texts began to broaden the western intellec- tual horizon, interest in Gnosticism once again began to stir, possibly in reaction to what these texts implied about Jewish and Christian origins, scripture, and doctrine.
According to King, such definitions for the most part only recon- structed the master story which viewed Gnosticism as a post-Crucifixion deviation influenced by other and inferior religious systems.
However, a group of scholars calling themselves the History of Religions School turned elsewhere for the origin of Gnosticism, seeing roots also in the religions of Iran, Babylonia, and India, as well as a proto-Gnosticism in pre-Christian Judaism.
The mid-twentieth century saw a major shift in thinking led by the work of Walter Bauer, who also challenged the longstanding assump- tion that Gnosticism was a secondary development in the history of Christianity. More importantly, he focused his immense scholarship on the master story.
Perhaps the greatest challenge to old notions of early Christian- ity has been the Nag Hammadi texts and the Dead Sea Scrolls, which clearly indicate that the earliest Christian groups were rooted in and part of a larger esoteric movement proclaiming salvation through bap- tismal initiation and gnosis.
Of the highest One, Eugnostos writes: He is immortal and eternal, having no birth; for everyone who has birth will perish. Or the book popular among Christian readers of the second century, the Shepherd of Hermas, which, like the book of Revelation, is filled with apocalyptic visions of a prophet? We now know that at one time or another, in one place or another, all of these noncanonical books and many others were revered as sacred, inspired, scriptural. Some of them we now have; others we know only by name.
Only twenty-seven of the early Christian books were finally included in the canon, copied by scribes through the ages, eventually translated into English, and now on bookshelves in virtually every home in America. One thing that was lost, of course, was the great diversity of the early centuries of Christianity. But virtually all forms of modern Christianity, whether they acknowledge it or not, go back to one form of Christianity that emerged as victorious from the conflicts of the second and third centuries.
These gains are obviously significant and relatively well known.
It is these losses which we will be exploring throughout this book. In this book we will examine these lost books that have now been found, along with other books that were marginalized by the victorious party but have been known by scholars for centuries. We will also consider how the twenty- seven books of the New Testament came to be accepted as canonical Scripture, discussing who made this collection, on what grounds, and when. The Stakes of the Conflict Before launching into the investigation, I should perhaps say a word about what is, or at least what was, at stake.
Throughout the course of our study I will be asking the question: What if it had been otherwise? What if some other form of Christianity had become dominant, instead of the one that did? The creeds still spoken in churches today might never have been devised. The New Testament as a collection of sacred books might never have come into being. Or it might have come into being with an entirely different set of books, including, for example, the Gospel of Thomas instead of the Gospel of Matthew, or the Epistle of Barnabas instead of the Epistle of James, or the Apocalypse of Peter instead of the Apocalypse of John.
It is conceivable that if the form of Christianity that established itself as dominant had not done so, Christianity would never have become a major world religion within the Roman Empire. Had that happened, the empire might never have adopted Christianity as its official religion.
On the other hand, the empire might have converted to a different form of Christianity and the development of Western society and culture might have developed in ways that we cannot imagine. However one plays such games of imagination, it is clear that the victory of one form of Christianity was a significant event both for the internal workings of the religion and for the history of civilization, especially in the West.