Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew

Finally finished this book by Bart Ehrman about the Marcionites, the Ebionites, the Gnostics, and other early Christians whose views and writings lost out in the battle to become orthodox and canonical.

The book was very interesting, but a bit unnecessarily repetitive. Perhaps Ehrman subscribes to the Jared Diamond School of Non-Fiction Writing. While reading the book I had a vivid impression of Ehrman lecturing to his Religious Studies classes. "As we have seen..." "We will return to this later..." I'm not surprised to discover, on the rear dust jacket, that Ehrman does audio lectures for the Teaching Company.

Also, perhaps in order to pump up the importance of his field of study, Ehrman likes to ruminate on how our whole intellectual development would be different if, say, Gnosticism had emerged as the dominant form of Christianity. Now, I am sure that history would have been different (in a "butterfly effect" sense, if nothing else), but I rather doubt that Gnosticism would have made all of us mystics today, any more than Christianity has made all of us pacifists.


At 9:15 AM, March 15, 2006, Blogger Sophia Sadek said...

Thanks for the posting.

I've had the chance to see some of Ehrman's videos in a church group setting. He made quite an impression on the audience. His strength lies in making scholarly work accessible to the average individual.

Like all things, his analysis is not perfect. One of the flaws I noted was in the way he treated some of the discrepancies in the Gospels. For example, he saw no obvious reason for the use of miracles in one setting and the withholding of them in another setting.

That's a minor nit compared with some of the more important points he brings up.


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