Lost Scriptures: Books that Did Not Make It into the New Testament
Bart D. Ehrman
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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.
Unity, consuming matter within him self like ﬁre, and darkness by light, death by life. If indeed these things have happened to each one of us, then we must see to it above all that the house will be holy and silent for the Unity. (It is) as in the case of some people who moved out of dwell ings having jars that in spots were not good. They would break them and the master of the house would not suffer loss. Rather �he� is glad because in place of the bad jars (there are) full ones which are
that they had not yet received form nor yet received a name, each one of which the Father begets. Then, when they re ceive form by his knowledge, though truly within him, they do not know him. But the Father is perfect, knowing every space within him. If he wishes, he man ifests whomever he wishes by giving him form and giving him a name, and he gives a name to him and brings it about that those come into existence who, before they come into existence, are ignorant of him who fashioned them. I
with re spect to him; I did not sin. The 12 proph ets were laughingstocks, since they have come forth as imitations of the true prophets. They came into being from the image of the Hebdomad, as though it had become stronger than I and my brethren. But we are innocent with respect to it, since we did not sin. Moses was a laugh ingstock, a “faithful servant,” being named “the friend”; they bore witness concerning him in iniquity, since he never knew me. Neither he nor those before him, from Adam
sad. (Jerome, Commentary on Ezekiel, 18:7) The Gospel of the Egyptians The Gospel of the Egyptians is another Gospel that has been lost since the early centuries of Christianity. The only access we have to it is in the quotations of an early church father, the late second-century Clement of Alexandria, who at one point identiﬁes one of his non-canonical quotations of the words of Jesus as having come from this book (fragment 5). Most of Clement’s quotations of the Gospel involve
then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, ‘It is in the sea,’ then the ﬁsh will precede you. Rather, the kingdom is inside of you, and it is outside of you. When you come to know yourselves, then you will become known, and you will realize that it is you who are the sons of the living father. But if you will not know yourselves you dwell in poverty and it is you who are that poverty.” 4 Jesus said, “The man old in days will not hesitate to ask a small child seven days old