Cover image for Lost scriptures : books that did not make it into the New Testament
Lost scriptures : books that did not make it into the New Testament
Ehrman, Bart D.
Publication Information:
New York : Oxford University Press, [2003]

Physical Description:
vi, 342 pages ; 24 cm
Non-canonical gospels: The gospel of the Nazareans -- The gospel of the Ebionites -- The gospel according to the Hebrews -- The gospel according to the Egyptians -- The Coptic gospel of Thomas -- Papyrus Egerton 2: the unknown gospel -- The gospel of Peter -- The gospel of Mary -- The gospel of Philip -- The gospel of truth -- The gospel of the savior -- The infancy gospel of Thomas -- The proto-gospel of James -- The epistle of the apostles -- The Coptic apocalypse of Peter -- The second treatise of the Great Seth -- The secret gospel of Mark ; Non-canonical acts of the apostles: The acts of John -- The acts of Paul -- The acts of Thecla -- The acts of Thomas -- The acts of Peter ; Non-canonical epistles and related writings: The third letter to the Corinthians -- Correspondence of Paul and Seneca -- Paul's letter to the Laodiceans -- The letter of 1 Clement -- The letter of 2 Clement -- The "letter of Peter to James" and its "Reception" -- The homilies of Clement -- Ptolemy's letter to Flora -- The treatise on the resurrection -- The Didache -- The letter of Barnabas -- The preaching of Peter -- Pseudo-Titus ; Non-canonical apocalypses and revelatory treatises: The Shepherd of Hermas -- The apocalypse of Peter -- The apocalypse of Paul -- The secret book of John -- On the origin of the world -- The first thought in three forms -- The hymn of the pearl ; Canonical lists: The Muratorian canon -- The canon of Origen of Alexandria -- The canon of Eusebius -- The canon of Athansius of Alexandria -- The canon of the Third Synod of Carthage.
Reading Level:
1300 Lexile.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BS2832 .E37 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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We may think of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament as the only sacred writings of the early Christians, but this is not at all the case. Lost Scriptures offers an anthology of up-to-date and readable translations of many non-canonical writings from the first centuries afterChrist--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 Actsoriginally 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 horrendoustorments 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, thirteenEpistles, a number of Apocalypes and Secret Books, and several Canon lists. Ehrman has included a general introduction, plus brief introductions to each piece. Lost Scriptures gives readers a vivid picture of the range of beliefs that battled each other in the first centuries of the Christian era. It is an essential resource for anyone interested in the Bible or the early Church.

Author Notes

New Testament scholar Bart D. Ehrman grew up in Lawrence, Kansas and graduated from Wheaton College in 1978. He earned his Masters of Divinity and PhD from Princeton Theological Seminary and has taught at Rutgers University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he is the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor. He has published more than 20 scholarly and popular books, including three New York Times bestsellers, plus numerous articles and book reviews.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

The author of more than ten books on New Testament history and early Christian writings, Ehrman (religious studies, Univ. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill) 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. In Lost Scriptures, Ehrman provides primary texts that did not pass muster for canonical Christianity. They do, however, provide a compelling portrait of competing convictions within Christianity up to the fourth century. Ehrman groups them by literary categories, e.g., gospels, epistles, and apocalypses. While many of these are widely available elsewhere, such as in Ehrman's own After the New Testament: A Reader in Early Christianity (1999), this work is far more comprehensive. In addition, the thematic structure makes this an indispensable companion piece to Lost Christianities. Instead of primary texts, Lost Christianities presents context, history, and commentary surrounding these important early materials. Ehrman argues for the importance of reflecting on what was both lost and gained when these books were excised from Christianity. He argues that the victorious party rewrote the history of the controversy, solidifying the canon along the way in order to support an orthodoxy that would brook no dissent. Scholars and lay readers alike will want to have these works side by side, since Ehrman's intent is to elucidate early Christian divisions through the texts that best represent these rifts. Both books are essential for seminaries, religious studies collections, and any library with a strong interest in early Christianity. Highly recommended.-Sandra Collins, Univ. of Pittsburgh (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Lost Christianities is a terrific book. In clear and energetic writing, Ehrman (UNC, Chapel Hill) offers a picture of early Christianity that varies dramatically from the picture most people have. He provides brief evocations of widely contrasting alternatives to the "orthodox" Christianity that eventually prevailed; these alternatives (they lasted, even thrived, for centuries) included Ebionite Christianity, which tried to keep Christianity within the orbit of Judaism; Marcionite Christianity, which tried to deny the Jewish roots of Christianity altogether; and various forms of Gnostic Christianity that tried in numerous ways to deny that Christ had been a human being at all. This complex picture emerges from the very diverse literature of early Christianity that has come to light over the past century. Once it was excluded from the official New Testament collection, however, and once it was condemned for one reason or another as heretical, most of this literature was lost. Interest in these books was confined to dwindling and increasingly marginal groups, and the leaders of the triumphant "catholic" (universal) church were all too eager to see the volumes disappear. Ehrman describes these books in some detail, and recounts how each was rediscovered. Some of these documents have been familiar to scholars for centuries, but many were entirely unknown as recently as a few decades ago. The author's narratives of rediscovery are themselves sometimes astonishing, and would be worth reading even if the actual texts were less significant.In the companion volume Lost Scriptures, Ehrman provides translations of these same ancient books. As a supplement to Lost Christianities, this second volume is very useful. It is, however, somewhat frustrating on its own: introductions to the texts are exceedingly brief and continually refer to Lost Christianities; some longer texts are abridged or excerpted. As a result, the reader is never quite sure of having seen the whole picture. The books should be acquired as a pair, and libraries with collections in religion, theology, or church history are urged to do so. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. All levels. R. Goldenberg SUNY at Stony Brook

Table of Contents

General Introductionp. 1
Non-Canonical Gospelsp. 7
The Gospel of the Nazareansp. 9
The Gospel of the Ebionitesp. 12
The Gospel According to the Hebrewsp. 15
The Gospel According to the Egyptiansp. 17
The Coptic Gospel of Thomasp. 19
Papyrus Egerton 2: The Unknown Gospelp. 29
The Gospel of Peterp. 31
The Gospel of Maryp. 35
The Gospel of Philipp. 38
The Gospel of Truthp. 45
The Gospel of the Saviorp. 52
The Infancy Gospel of Thomasp. 57
The Proto-Gospel of Jamesp. 63
The Epistle of the Apostlesp. 73
The Coptic Apocalypse of Peterp. 78
The Second Treatise of the Great Sethp. 82
The Secret Gospel of Markp. 87
Non-Canonical Acts of the Apostlesp. 91
The Acts of Johnp. 93
The Acts of Paulp. 109
The Acts of Theclap. 113
The Acts of Thomasp. 122
The Acts of Peterp. 135
Non-Canonical Epistles and Related Writingsp. 155
The Third Letter to the Corinthiansp. 157
Correspondence of Paul and Senecap. 160
Paul's Letter to the Laodiceansp. 165
The Letter of 1 Clementp. 167
The Letter of 2 Clementp. 185
The "Letter of Peter to James" and its "Reception"p. 191
The Homilies of Clementp. 195
Ptolemy's Letter to Florap. 201
The Treatise on the Resurrectionp. 207
The Didachep. 211
The Letter of Barnabasp. 219
The Preaching of Peterp. 236
Pseudo-Titusp. 239
Non-Canonical Apocalypses and Revelatory Treatisesp. 249
The Shepherd of Hermasp. 251
The Apocalypse of Peterp. 280
The Apocalypse of Paulp. 288
The Secret Book of Johnp. 297
On the Origin of the Worldp. 307
The First Thought in Three Formsp. 316
The Hymn of the Pearlp. 324
Canonical Listsp. 329
The Muratorian Canonp. 331
The Canon of Origen of Alexandriap. 334
The Canon of Eusebiusp. 337
The Canon of Athanasius of Alexandriap. 339
The Canon of the Third Synod of Carthagep. 341