Lost Christianities: Christian Scriptures and the Battles over Authentication

Discover myriad works of early Christianity that failed to make the official canon and become part of the Bible in this course by best-selling author and Professor Bart D. Ehrman.
Lost Christianities: Christian Scriptures and the Battles over Authentication is rated 4.7 out of 5 by 131.
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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Enjoyed the style and delivery. I purchased this several years ago. This is my second time going through the course. I find Dr. Ehrman's delivery style enjoyable, energetic, and most importantly very informative. His style of briefly reviewing the prior lecture before moving on, I find to be reinforcing.
Date published: 2021-01-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from More information is a good thing I have listened to several of Dr. Ehrman’s courses and read most of his books. It has changed the way I view my Christian faith. I have had to admit to myself that there are so many historical and philosophical perspectives I never learned in Sunday school or church. It is my job to reconcile the information and viewpoints to come to my own conclusion concerning faith and Christianity. I’m a better person for it.
Date published: 2020-07-05
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Lost Christianities The problem is not with the material but with Ehrman's delivery. It's as if he's compiled a great deal of information and is giving a report. Nothing touches him, excites him, troubles him, etc so that after a while it all runs flat. In fact, there were moments when I fell asleep.
Date published: 2020-05-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Lost Christianities I am very happy with the lectures and the presenter always does such a fine job.
Date published: 2020-04-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A revelation! This is a real eye-opener. I had no idea that these groups existed and the little known texts existed. It all gives one a pause.
Date published: 2020-04-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from love his teaching techniques - how long should this review be?
Date published: 2020-03-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Historical Perspective Christinanty Professor Ehrman is an excellent teacher and has such a vast knowledge of the history of how orthodox Christianity became what we understand today. It is fascinating to learn about all the different Christian beliefs that existed before the orthodox faith was established. With this course, and other courses by Dr. Ehrman, I feel I have a much greater understanding of the true history behind the Christian faith.
Date published: 2019-09-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very complete I'm still taking the course and enjoying it very much. Some of the material is a review for me and some is new information. I really appreciate the amount of background resources and historical texts that the presenter uses. It gives me new sources to search.
Date published: 2019-04-04
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In the first centuries after Christ, there was no "official" New Testament. In fact, many Christians held beliefs that today would be considered bizarre, including the belief that Christ's death and resurrection had nothing to do with salvation. What did these "other" Scriptures say? Do they exist today? If such beliefs were once common, why do they no longer exist? These are just a few of the many provocative questions you explore in Lost Christianities: Christian Scriptures and the Battles over Authentication.


Bart D. Ehrman
Bart D. Ehrman

Anyone who’s interested in understanding what the words of Jesus might mean in the modern world cannot take them at face value and apply them to the present situation without seeing how that situation is different from his own.


The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Dr. Bart D. Ehrman is the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He completed his undergraduate work at Wheaton College and earned his M.Div. and Ph.D. from Princeton Theological Seminary. Professor Ehrman has written or edited 27 books, including four best sellers on The New York Times list: Misquoting Jesus: The Story behind Who Changed the Bible and Why; God's Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question-Why We Suffer; Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (and Why We Don't Know about Them);and Forged: Writing in the Name of God-Why the Bible's Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are. Professor Ehrman also served as president of the Society of Biblical Literature, Southeastern Region; book review editor of the Journal of Biblical Literature; editor of the Scholars' Press monograph series The New Testament in the Greek Fathers;and coeditor-in-chief for the journal Vigiliae Christianae. Professor Ehrman received the John William Pope Center Spirit of Inquiry Award, the UNC Students' Undergraduate Teaching Award, the Phillip and Ruth Hettleman Prize for Artistic and Scholarly Achievement by Young Faculty, and the Bowman and Gordon Gray Professorship (awarded for excellence in undergraduate teaching).

By This Professor

Lost Christianities: Christian Scriptures and the Battles over Authentication


The Diversity of Early Christianity

01: The Diversity of Early Christianity

Modern Christianity is widely diverse in its social structures, beliefs and practices, but this diversity is mild compared to the first three centuries A.D., when Christians disagreed on such basic issues as how many gods there were, or whether Jesus was human, divine, both, or neither.

32 min
Christians Who Would Be Jews

02: Christians Who Would Be Jews

This begins by considering key terms used in the course, such as orthodoxy and heresy, followed by an introduction to the Ebionites, who maintained Jewish practices while believing that Jesus was the messiah.

31 min
Christians Who Refuse To Be Jews

03: Christians Who Refuse To Be Jews

This lecture examines the Marcionites, a group of heretics diametrically opposed to the Ebionites. Using the apostle Paul as his source, their leader, Marcion, insisted that true Christianity had nothing to do with Judaism.

31 min
Early Gnostic Christianity-Our Sources

04: Early Gnostic Christianity-Our Sources

The Gnostics believed that special knowledge brought salvation to souls trapped in the evil, material world. Before 1945 and the discovery of the Nag Hammadi library, information about this widespread group of Christian sects came almost solely from the writings of Irenaeus, Tertullian, and other church fathers who opposed them.

30 min
Early Christian Gnosticism-An Overview

05: Early Christian Gnosticism-An Overview

This lecture provides an overview of the Gnostic religions. It considers their possible origins within a Judeo-Christian tradition that maintained that God had created the world and controlled it. This was hard for some Jews and/or Christians to accept.

31 min
The Gnostic Gospel of Truth

06: The Gnostic Gospel of Truth

One of the most intriguing documents from the Nag Hammadi library is the Gnostic Gospel of Truth. It does not relate stories about the life of Jesus, but instead celebrates the "good news" that Jesus brought. The views of God, the world, Christ, and salvation here stand in stark contrast with those that became orthodox within Christianity.

31 min
Gnostics Explain Themselves

07: Gnostics Explain Themselves

This lecture considers two writings that attempted to explain the Gnostic system to outsiders. Ptolemy tries to show that neither the one true God nor the Devil could have inspired the Old Testament. In the Treatise on the Resurrection, the anonymous author insists that, contrary to the claims of proto-orthodox Christians, the resurrection is of the spirit, not the flesh.

31 min
The Coptic Gospel of Thomas

08: The Coptic Gospel of Thomas

The Gospel of Thomas is the most significant Nag Hammadi document. It consists of 114 sayings attributed to Jesus, with no reference to his miracles, death, or resurrection.

31 min
Thomas' Gnostic Teachings

09: Thomas' Gnostic Teachings

Understanding the Gnostic story can help explain the teachings in the Coptic Gospel of Thomas. Rather than the savior who dies for the sins of the world, Jesus is portrayed as the divine teacher who reveals the truth necessary for salvation.

31 min
Infancy Gospels

10: Infancy Gospels

The Gospels of the New Testament say very little about Jesus' life as an infant and young boy. This "lost period" is the subject of several early Gospels, however, including the Proto-Gospel of James, and the Infancy Gospel of Thomas.

31 min
The Gospel of Peter

11: The Gospel of Peter

A fragment is all that remains of the Gospel allegedly written by Jesus' disciple Peter. Early writings proclaim it a forgery. This description of Jesus' trial, crucifixion, and resurrection is both similar to, and strikingly different from, canonical accounts.

31 min
The Secret Gospel of Mark

12: The Secret Gospel of Mark

In 1958 at the Mar Saba library near Jerusalem, scholar Morton Smith found a fragment of a letter supposedly written by the 2nd-century church father Clement. It indicated that a second edition of Mark's Gospel existed, and was intended only for the spiritually elite. Is this letter authentic or a modern forgery?

31 min
The Acts of John

13: The Acts of John

To some extent, the noncanonical Acts are modeled on the Book of Acts in the New Testament. They differ, however, in that each is about only one of the major apostles in early Christendom: John, Peter, Paul, Andrew, and Thomas.

31 min
The Acts of Thomas

14: The Acts of Thomas

The Apocryphal Acts resembled the ancient romances (novels). While the Christian Acts use many of these conventions, their goal is to counteract the views that the romances embraced.

31 min
The Acts of Paul and Thecla

15: The Acts of Paul and Thecla

One of the most popular apocryphal accounts from Christian antiquity involved the conversion and exploits of Thecla of Asia Minor, an aristocratic woman who converts to the Christian faith through the preaching of Paul.

30 min
Forgeries in the Name of Paul

16: Forgeries in the Name of Paul

A number of letters survive that are credited to the apostle Paul, but which were clearly fabricated. This lecture considers two sets of such correspondence. Evidently forged in the fourth century, these letters were meant to portray Paul as equal to the greatest minds of his day.

31 min
The Epistle of Barnabas

17: The Epistle of Barnabas

The Epistle of Barnabas is not considered forged. Although later attributed to Paul's traveling companion Barnabas, it is actually anonymous. This is one of the most virulently anti-Jewish treatises of Christian antiquity.

31 min
The Apocalypse of Peter

18: The Apocalypse of Peter

This lecture examines an Apocalypse of Peter completely unrelated to the one previously discussed. This is a proto-orthodox composition that represents the first surviving narrative of a guided tour of heaven and hell, a forerunner of Dante's Divine Comedy.

31 min
The Rise of Early Christian Orthodoxy

19: The Rise of Early Christian Orthodoxy

The standard definition of orthodoxy was proffered by the 4th-century church father Eusebius. He maintained that orthodoxy was the view taught by Jesus and his apostles.

31 min
Beginnings of the Canon

20: Beginnings of the Canon

Christianity was unique among religions of the Greco-Roman world in emphasizing the importance of belief instead of cultic practice, and in its insistence that it was the only true religion. The formation of the New Testament canon can be seen as a development among Christians to root their beliefs in the teachings of Jesus and his apostles.

31 min
Formation of the New Testament Canon

21: Formation of the New Testament Canon

Contrary to popular belief, the canon of the New Testament's 27 books did not emerge at the very beginning of the Christian movement. Although written during the 1st century, or soon thereafter, it took 300 years before these books were declared to be canonical.

31 min
Interpretation of Scripture

22: Interpretation of Scripture

Deciding which books to include in the canon was not enough to ensure the proto-orthodox understanding of the Christian faith. There were numerous ways to interpret the books of Scripture, and the early Christian centuries saw numerous debates over interpretation.

31 min
Orthodox Corruption of Scripture

23: Orthodox Corruption of Scripture

Of the nearly 5,400 copies of New Testament writings that survive today (in the original Greek), no two are exactly alike. All of the available texts were copied by hand. Some of the discrepancies appear to have been intentional.

31 min
Early Christian Creeds

24: Early Christian Creeds

The final lecture considers the formation of the Christian creeds: statements of faith to determine what was true (orthodox) and what was false (heretical). The well-known creeds of the 4th century, such as the Nicene Creed, developed from earlier formulations known as the "Rule of Faith," and from confessions by converts before baptism.

31 min