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Summary

What did the "other" Scriptures followed by early Christians say? Do they exist today? How could such outlandish ideas ever be considered Christian? If such beliefs were once common, why do they no longer exist?

These are just a few of the many provocative questions that arise from these 24 thrilling lectures. Join the dramatic search for lost Christianities and learn why it's considered such an appealing subject to study.

These lectures focus on the remarkable fact that many of the struggles of early Christians were not against pagans or other nonbelievers but against other Christians. Professor Ehrman will introduce you to these fascinating groups, including the Ebionites (Jewish Christians who accepted a non-divine Jesus as the Messiah), the Marcionites (who believed the God of the Old Testament and the God of Jesus were different), and the Gnostics (who believed in other deities aside from the one true God).

The fascinating heart of this lecture series is its exploration of the Scriptures that were read and considered authoritative by these Christian sects. They provide a fascinating opportunity to study little known and sometimes controversial Scriptures that might have become part of the Bible. You'll explore the Gnostic Gospel of Truth (one of the most powerful and moving expositions of the joy of salvation to survive from Christian antiquity), the Infancy Gospels (which describe events leading up to Jesus' birth and during his young childhood), and the Apocryphal Acts of the Apostles (which provide legendary, imaginative, and entertaining accounts of the activities of Jesus' closest followers).

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2002 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2002 The Great Courses

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  • Ed
  • 05-07-17

as always full of insights

this course expands on a theme that is often referred to in histories of early Cgristianity; variations frim orthodoxy.

I paired it with a history if Judaism in the late Second Temple Period which worked well fir me.

I have tried to find fault with Professor Ehrman's logic many times and inly occasionally made it as far as raised eyebrows.

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  • Michael
  • 16-08-13

Finally Understanding Bart Ehrman

The guided reviews are simply unsuited to reviewing the great courses series.

Ehrman has written books on the subject, but hearing him go through the material in the style of a lecture really helped me to understand early gnostic and heretical/non proto-orthodox beliefs.

If you're interested in the early formation of Christianity before the establishment of the orthodox canon, this is the way to go. Great work, great explanations, just plain great. Well worth the listen, fully recommended.

17 of 17 people found this review helpful

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  • Patrick
  • 05-08-15

Fascinating Review of Alternative Christian Books

Would you consider the audio edition of Lost Christianities: Christian Scriptures and the Battles over Authentication to be better than the print version?

I did not reads the print version.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Interesting question for a course review. Um, Eucibius? Seriously, Professor Ehrman did a wonderful job of giving biographies of the various historical figures who were involved in both the creating of these books (where thay are known) and in those who criticized them. It gives a lot of insight into why various writing did or did not make it into the Christian canon.

Have you listened to any of Professor Bart D. Ehrman’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Yes, he is an excellent scholar and an entertaining lecturer. I can't say that it is any better than any other, nor any worse. They are all excellent.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Fascinating question. At times, it did make me laugh, but it also helped me to understand some facits of Christianity that I have always found puzzling. Professor Ehrman is a true scholar and a wonderful lecturer.

Any additional comments?

If I were still attending college and had the opportunity to sign up for one of Prfoessor Ehrman's classes, I do it in a heartbeat.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • R. Hays
  • 24-03-15

Professor knows his topic, but hard to follow

I loved the topic. I've always wanted to know why some writings made it in to the cannon and others didn't. Dr. Ehrman went a long way toward explaining, although I think it would take a semester (if not a degree) to really get a handle on it it.

I think the professor did as well as he could for the time he had and the complicated topic he had to explain to the layman, such as myself. There were times when his narrative skills just were not up to the challenge, and I still was left trying to sort out what he had just said (while he was already onto the next puzzler).

With that being the only caveat, I highly recommend this course. In fact, I think my next course from The Great Courses will come from him!

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Strid3r
  • 24-01-17

fantastic! chapter 23 blew my mind

really informative and interesting. this lecture is full of amazing facts and insights into how early Christianity formed.

chapter 23 inparticular blew my mind. not to soil anything but it goes over the earliest Greek manuscripts we have and just how flawed they really are.

highly recommended listening to this series!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • benoibe
  • 25-09-13

Wow! A+ Scholarly account of early Christianity.

This lecture series is one of the most interesting I've come across. Prof Ehrman does an excellent job of demonstrating the historical evolution of canon Christianity, and of other forms of Christian belief that are not canonical, but are unbelievably fascinating.

This lecture discusses what did and didn't make it into the New Testament...

I think it may surprise some Christians. I am certainly amazed.
This may not be a book for everyone. I don't believe it's offensive in any way. However, it may make those sensitive and defensive of their faith a little uncomfortable. On the other hand, if you are interested in the historical roots of Christianity and of the many gospels and letters excluded from the Christian bible, this is an OUTSTANDING EXPERIENCE.

While I don't agree with a few of Prof Ehrman's arguments, he makes a point to show all sides of the issue. The listener can make up their own mind. His work opens the door to so much historical discussion and debate in a great way. It's fascinating. I plan to seek out some of the books he discusses. There are really shocking tidbits in this lecture!!

I want to emphasize that this is not an attack against Christianity. Just an historical study of early Christian ideas that don't find their way to the bible. Very very interesting!


14 of 18 people found this review helpful

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  • Sandy
  • 07-11-14

Christology 101 from the beginnning.

Where does Lost Christianities: Christian Scriptures and the Battles over Authentication rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

At the top of the list, I can go over this lecture again and again

What did you like best about this story?

I liked the way it was set up

What does Professor Bart D. Ehrman bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Authority on the subject

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

not possible to listen to these lectures in one sitting.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 21-02-18

excellent overview

This is a great overview of early Christian scriptures. My only real disagreement with Dr. Ehrman is that I believe he is too confident in making claims about early Christian beliefs (as distinct from what we find in these books). To illustrate, future historians will not be able to reconstruct the various beliefs and practices of the Christian communities who have used the KJV Bible as their primary authority simply by having the book. He does bring it around in the end with his discussion of creeds.

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  • Tommy D'Angelo
  • 07-12-17

Solid content but repeated from other courses

Very solid course as usual from Professor Ehrman. He is in the upper echelon of Great Courses professors. He is easy to understand and follow which goes a long way when evaluating a course. If a professor cannot communicate clearly and succinctly then the best content can be tough to get into. My one "but" about his works though has always been that there is much repetition between his courses. More on that in a moment.

But first the good: This course offers a good look into the different types of Christianities and beliefs that existed in the first few centuries AD and how today’s orthodox views about Jesus and his life won out resulting in the formation of today’s accepted New Testament canon. The first three-fourths of the course center on Christian apocrypha and pseudepigrapha books (examples from all genres in the New Testament are included: gospels, acts, epistles, and apocalypses). The contents and messages behind the books are analyzed, illustrating the existence of earlier Christian belief systems that existed in parallel with today’s orthodox views in the first centuries AD. These included:

o The Ebionites who believed that Jesus was human but not divine/God but he was the Jewish Messiah and that the Jewish law must be kept to by all

o The Marcionites who believed that Jesus was divine/God but not human and gentiles did not have to follow Jewish law to be a Christian

o The Gnostics who believed that the god of the Old Testament who created this earth was a corrupted offspring from another god and that secret knowledge of who we are and where we came from (the spark of divine in us) was the path to eternal life not Jesus’ death for sin redemption

o Adoptionists who believe that God adopted Jesus as his Son at his baptism and left him at his crucifixion vs. him being eternally divine

o Christians who believed that all committed believers should abstain from sex including those that are married

Minuses:
1- While a number of gospels, acts, and epistle apocrypha books were examined, only one apocalypse was discussed (The Apocalypse of Peter)

2- A good amount of the information in the course (including much of the last fourth) can be found in other courses by the professor especially relating to how today’s New Testament canon came together and information on a lot of the apocrypha books. I understand the topics have overlap and there are listeners who would not have heard his other courses but I was hoping for something different or new in the last four lectures from this course but it was like re-listening to the “The History of the Bible - The Making of the New Testament Canon” course all over again. I feel like it shouldn't be so alike that you're left feeling like you've paid for the same course twice. Something is wrong there. Likewise the courses “The Greatest Controversies of Early Christian History” and "How Jesus Became God" have very similar info. To be honest this is one of the major reasons why I have shied away from purchasing course "The Historical Jesus" despite my high regard for the professor, his works, his conclusions, and his style. I just find it hard to believe that I will find anything of significant note there that I haven't already heard in his other courses.

3- While there was good discussion on the fact that today’s orthodox view and New Testament won out over other Christianities, there wasn’t much discussion of HOW it did so. I think he alludes to a reason or two and we can suspect why but I find it odd it isn't discussed in any kind of detail.

All in all I would recommend this course to anyone interested in learning more about the early different types of Christianity. If you believe today's orthodox view has always been the dominant view or the ONLY view from Jesus' time to today then this course will certainly open your eyes to a fascinating topic.

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  • Newsanctuary
  • 22-05-16

Very informative

This group of lectures had so much information that I've wondered about for so long. I'm glad that I was able to get a breakdown of some of the most early forms of Christianity.

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  • J. W. Barnett
  • 03-11-15

Excellent summary of lost christianity

This is an excellent introductory course. It gives a basic understanding of early Christian communities and the conflicts between them. Professor Ehrman does an excellent job in summarizing the groups and in his presentation. The pdf notes accompanying the course provide good bibliographic references for further research if desired. The presentation is well balanced and does not emphasize a right or wrong way to approach the subject. Overall, I very much enjoyed the course and would highly recommend it.