Nothing in the world is as fascinating and interesting as religion. There are several religious groups that have their own beliefs and teachings that they belief are the only right one. It is through this keen and critical view that faith can be looked into. Christianity during the patristic period was more diverse than anyone can imagine. There were very many groups that had different approaches towards Jesus Christ which happens to be the blueprint for their beliefs and way of worship. In the book Lost Christianities by Bart Ehrman, Christianity is put on the spot. Ehrman seeks to explain how Christianity has fared on since the days of Jesus Christ and how it has transformed to become what it is today. Much of the book talks about how some forms of Christianity withered along the way and how what is seen today as Christianity stood the tests of time to become the dominant way of worship today.
The first reason why this book is very important in the history of religion is because it seeks to explain the emergence of an ‘orthodox’ form of Christianity that has dominated the world for centuries. This is the kind of mainstream Christianity that is seen today. It was not easy for it to become accepted and dominate as there were a lot other movements that existed then. It is therefore imperative to note that the book brings to light some of the most important phases of Christianity that cannot even be found in the bible itself. Much of the work that it covers explains how some books of the bible were scrapped off and how some rituals and traditions were also dropped.
The book through its way of explaining the diversity of the early church or Christianity helps the reader realize how complex it was at the time. Through the book it is easier to understand how various movements played a role in shaping the early church. The author reviews various movements such as such as the Ebonites saw Jesus Christ as fully human, the Marcions who objected to the fact that the deity through whom Jesus Christ spoke who was talked about in the Hebrew bible was himself. The Gnostics too were against the notion of the world being redeemable and just saw Jesus as one who had just come to redeem only the spirit. Through the book, each of these movements is brought to light and what they believed in thus making the book very important in the Christian history. In fact, it is through it that it can be well understood that there were several notions and theories surrounding the human person Jesus Christ and his ministry (Ehrman 80).
Looking at Christianity from this kind of perspective and getting to understand how it has evolved makes it easier to understand the journey it has taken for it to be where it is today. History seeks to bring to light how changes take place and how they impact the present. Maybe, it is from this perspective that people get to know more about something. In regard to the journey taken for Christianity to be where it is today, it is easier to tell that it was never easy. And even with the diversity that is seen in it today, one will be forgiven to look consider the diversity therein. There are very many forms of worship within Christianity today as seen through the different denominations in existence. The variations can be seen through the traditions that are observed, the beliefs that the denominations hold and even the day of worship. From this point of view and in relation to the early forms of Christianity, it is easier to understand the wrangles and differences which are experienced today.
Through the book, it can be understood that together with the very many Christianities, there was no New Testament but very many epistles, sacred texts, books, and even gospels. Through such kind of information, one can conduct an analysis and reach a conclusion that in as much as only the bible can be referred to today, there are so many other writings outside it that are credible and that can be used in worship. By not being included in the New Testament does not just mean that they are not as useful. It is from this perspective that serious Christians need to revisit history and get to unearth some of these hard truths that the bible or other books fail to explain. This implies that there are a host of other materials that can be seen as relevant and helpful in understanding Christianity as a religion and therefore should not be shoved aside.
Through the insights gotten from the book, it cannot be assumed that the New Testament is holistic. This means that there is a possibility that there are a lot of other very important literatures that have been left out that could have been otherwise helpful in Christianity as a whole. Apart from sidelining the other Christianities, there are a lot of other literatures that the mainstream Christianity that we see today left out. If only they could have borrowed from each other and formed a more concrete Christianity then things could have been more different today. This is a major weakness of this Christianity and it cannot conclusively be assumed to be one hundred percent true and correct. This gives room to loopholes that when unearthed, can lead to the realization of very critical flaws in the current form of Christianity.
All in all, the book is a good insight to what we would have expected in the world today if all the other Christianities could have been left to thrive. The book offers the reader or any other person interested in delving into the past a platform to judge what is seen today as Christianity to what was in existence before. This way it is becomes easier to understand the journey Christianity has travelled up to where it is today. It is not surprising that some of the information held therein is not documented in major books that explain the early church more so the Apostolic church and the insights gotten are very helpful not only to practicing Christians but also to everyone. Maybe the world today may have been different if all the Christianities could have been allowed to thrive. Not all of them could have been right but at least there could be diversity in worship and belief. Under the current circumstances, one is left with a lot of questions that lack answers but which offer a major critic to what really Christianity is all about. Through the book, the New Testament may be flawed or not according to what one chooses to believe because it is not all inclusive and can be said to be very biased.
Ehrman, Bart. Lost Christianities: The battles for Scripture and the Faiths we Never Knew. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005