Why Are People So Fascinated with ‘Lost’ Books of the Bible?

Exactly one month ago, I published a TGC article on the recently discovered ‘gospel’ manuscript from Oxyrhynchus, P.Oxy. 5575. This new manuscript is noteworthy for many reasons (which I cover in the article), but mostly because it includes material from the Gospel of Thomas laid alongside material from Matthew and Luke.

While such a discovery certainly deserves academic attention, the internet “buzz” generated by this new manuscript has been fascinating to watch. Indeed, it reminds me that there always seems to be a disproportionate cultural fascination with “lost” Gospel or “hidden” texts about Jesus.  Write an article about the canonical Gospels and you might get a few hits. Write an …

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Where Are All the Heretical Bishops in the Second Century?

I’ve noticed that Michael Bird has recently posted an article on heresy and orthodoxy in early Christianity. From what I can tell (I can’t see the entire article because it’s behind the paywall), he is pushing back against the popular narrative, originally suggested by Walter Bauer in his 1934 book Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest Christianity, which insists that Christianity was wildly diverse in the earliest centuries and that the heretics outnumbered the orthodox. It was not until the 3rd and 4th centuries, according to Bauer, that the orthodox began to turn the tide.

But I think there’s an additional way to test Bauer’s theory. Let’s ask a simple …

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Did the Heretics Outnumber the Orthodox in Early Christianity?

One of the most common arguments about early Christianity—made popular by Walter Bauer’s 1934 book Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest Christianityis that the earliest centuries had such enormous doctrinal diversity that the “heretics” were as prevalent, if not even more numerous, than the “orthodox.” It was not until the 4th century, it is argued, that the orthodox began to turn the tide.

But let’s test this theory by asking a simple question: who were the bishops in second-century Christianity?  Who were the leaders of all these churches? If heresy was as widespread as orthodoxy, we should expect to find a number of bishops that are openly Marcionite, Ebionite, …

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Is the New Testament Really Filled with Contradictory Theologies?

Perhaps no book in the history of the world has received as much scrutiny and criticism as the Bible.  For generations, scholars have picked apart every aspect of this book: its history, its transmission, its veracity, its theology, its morality, etc.  It has been criticized, ridiculed, mocked and condemned.

Those who are in the academic world—college students, grad students—feel this tension acutely. In fact, this is why I wrote my most recent book, Surviving Religion 101: Letters to a Christian Student on Keeping the Faith in College (Crossway, 2021).

However, in their haste to heap criticism on the Bible, occasionally critics offer arguments that actually prove to be inconsistent with …

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The Heresy of Orthodoxy: Was the NT Text Reliably Transmitted?

This post is the final installment in a series of videos where Andreas Köstenberger and I discuss the theory of Walter Bauer on unity and diversity in early Christianity.

These discussions are based on our book, The Heresy of Orthodoxy: How Contemporary Culture’s Fascination with Diversity Has Reshaped Our Understanding of Early Christianity (Crossway, 2010).

You can find the prior four installments here, here, here, and here.

In this last video, we tackle the very important issue of textual transmission.  Skeptics have argued that the wild theological diversity in early Christianity would not only have led the church to have different canons, but it would also …

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