The book has three major sections. The initial part focuses on the position of four Christians who have not succeeded in joining the New Testament. The author studies the portion of “The Gospel of Peter,” which ends up surviving until the crucifixion. The “Apocalypse of Peter,” gives a brief discussion of hell. The last chapter of the book includes the Acts of the Apostle Paul and the Gospel of Thomas, with more on Jesus ‘ teachings.
Erhman has indeed taken an extensive research to present his objectives through a respectful and more scholarly view of the subject too. Apart from the book captivating the reader’s mind, it presents a touch of the reader’s heart too. In this case, Erhman may have achieved the desired result of his book to his audience or readers.
The book discusses various agendas that lie behind both the “scripture” and “heresy.” The author shows the way in which many writings had supported one faction of Christianity or by describing these writings, how they existed, and how their discovery had passed after so many years, and how they were studied by scholars. However, in the whole discussion, Ehrman fails to present his own agenda. He just seems to provide an account of each faction ‘s opinions and priorities without leaning on either of the sides. In this case, the reader is moved to a deeper, more informed and appreciation of Christianity from the book. The resulting appreciation ends up creating the desire of replacing the divisive dogma towards healing spirituality in the book.
The early Christians never had The New Testament. Only later came the New Testament, where it also ended up being the main tool in the war between various groups for supremacy. The book promoted the unification into orthodoxy of several disparate churches. The orthodoxy, however, supported derogatory opinions of those whose “scriptures” in the New Testament were excluded. The New Testament is basically only a collection of writings that affirm clear beliefs of Christianity. Ehrman has an account for the pros and cons associated with the writing of the book in a unique way.
Ehrman has written a fascinating book on early Christian texts, which was not originally part of the New Testament and the Christian sects that vanished due to it to a powerful and orthodox Christian religion in the world. The rapid and widespread growth of Christianity coupled with improvements in communication made the local churches support a number of influences of different conflicting views about God, Jesus, and the interpretation of apostolic teachings too. The writings that had omission from the New Testament canon were to have late consideration as true and authentic representations of Christ teachings by these different sects of Christians. Indeed, this is the point where the signs o0f Christian unity began to find its roots after many decades of divisions and parallelisms due to the different kinds of conflicting ideologies that each these sects had towards the beliefs in Christianity. This variety of views also saw the emergence of sects like the anti-Jewish Marcionites, who disowned the Old Testament since they saw it as an irrelevant material to them towards their Christian understanding and, therefore, they opted to follow the instructions contained in the writings of Paul. They also believed that Jesus never had flesh and even blood in his body unlike the Ebionites, who viewed Paul as a heretic and believed that Jesus could have resulted from the union of Mary and Joseph.
The crucifixion of Christ resulted in the flourishing of all manner and forms of Christian beliefs and worship in the eastern part of the Roman Empire after so many decades. A number of these movements described by the author include their philosophies and their writings too. There were the Jewish that followed Jewish law and the anti-Jewish who rejected Jewish law and the various sects who had their own deep philosophies. Each of these sects had their own written propaganda about the accounts of the supposed teachings of Jesus or the accounts of the activities done by the disciples of Jesus.
Ehrman tries to figure out the forgeries and proceeds to tell the audience or the reader on what he or she deserves to know about the literature and the unnecessary inclusion by the “proto-orthodox” Church leaders in the New Testament. He narrates about an interesting tale of a modern day forgery alongside an ancient forgery of the “Gospel of Thomas.” Many of the early Christian writings are not nowadays available since only a small description of them and the sects they represented is what still exists up to date. The early Christianity might have been different as at present and encompassing since it does everything.
The early Christians had different conflicting views about the Christianity itself. Some sects believed there was no one God in heaven since they believed that there could be about twelve to thirty living gods. There was a Christian’s sect that had the belief that the world was not due to God’s creation. They had their own belief that the world may have been created by a lesser and an ignorant deity. Another group insisted that Jesus be a human being and not spiritual, while others believed that Jesus could have been a divine. There was no way he could have been a human being too since no human being has been found to perform the activities Jesus did while He was on earth. The author in the end tries to explain how these lost Christianities end up being suppressed, reformed, or forgotten later. Despite all these groups having insisted that they were following the teachings of Jesus and his apostles, and they were all possessed with writings that lead them out to their claims, with their books ending up being reputedly produced by the followers of Jesus. Ehrman has shown that the recent archaeological work recovered from different kinds of key texts, which reveal the diversity of the religion.
These discoveries talks much about the ways in which the heroes document history. He entirely makes his discussion to cover several “lost scriptures” like forged gospels. There is a viable faith in writings of Simon Peter who is the closest disciple and the alleged Christ twin brother. Groups like the Jewish-Christian Ebionites, the anti-Jewish Marcionites, and various “Gnostic” sects also have attention. Ehrman tries to explain deeply the battles that existed between “proto-orthodox Christians”; those who followed by standardized Christian views, the canonical books of the New Testament faith and the heretics groups as they referred them whom they overcame at last. The Lost Christianities marks the stage for the beginning of politics, power, and the clash of ideas among Christians in the past decades before another group came to realize that its ideologies were the best to have adoption for use in the
Today’s Christian Life
Ehrman has clearly displayed his expertise in modern scholarships and the texts knowledge that accompanies a sound critical judgment on the ideologies he tries to show about the past Christianity as compared to the present the Christianity of today. The way he balances the exposition of the Gospel of Thomas through careful delineation of its various contents leads to making the book more outstanding. The author also through his comparison of the history of books of New Testament and the early Christian writings makes him emerge as an established expert in Christianity. These comparisons also contribute to the flavor and the varieties of the beliefs and thoughts of the early Christians.
- Ehrman, Bart D. Lost Christianities. 1st ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003. Print.