The Many Faces of Christ: The Thousand-Year Story of the Survival and Influence of the Lost Gospels
Categories: Church History
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The Thousand-Year Story of the Survival and Influence of the Lost Gospels. The standard account of early Christianity tells us that the first centuries after Jesus' death witnessed an efflorescence of Christian sects, each with its own gospel. We are taught that these alternative scriptures, which represented intoxicating, daring, and often bizarre ideas, were suppressed in the fourth and fifth centuries, when the Church canonized the gospels we know today: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The rest were lost, destroyed, or hidden.
In 'The Many Faces of Christ,' the renowned religious historian Philip Jenkins thoroughly refutes our most basic assumptions about the Lost Gospels. He reveals that dozens of alternative gospels not only survived the canonization process but in many cases remained influential texts within the official Church. Whole new gospels continued to be written and accepted. For a thousand years, these strange stories about the life and death of Jesus were freely admitted onto church premises, approved for liturgical reading, read by ordinary laypeople for instruction and pleasure, and cited as authoritative by scholars and theologians.
The Lost Gospels spread far and wide, crossing geographic and religious borders. The ancient Gospel of Nicodemus penetrated into Southern and Central Asia, while both Muslims and Jews wrote and propagated gospels of their own. In Europe, meanwhile, it was not until the Reformation and Counter-Reformation that the Lost Gospels were effectively driven from churches. But still, many survived, and some continue to shape Christian practice and belief in our own day.
Offering a revelatory new perspective on the formation of the biblical canon, the nature of the early Church, and the evolution of Christianity, 'The Many Faces of Christ' restores these Lost Gospels to their central place in Christian history.
This chapter list gives the structure of the book:
Gospel Truths: The Myth of the Lost Gospels
Christ's Many Faces: The Survival of the Old Gospels in a Wider Christian World
The Isles of the West: How Irish and British Churches Kept Ancient Christian Cultures Alive
Old Gospels Never Die: Ancient Gospels That Gave the Medieval Church Its Best-Known Images of Christ
Two Marys: How Alternative Gospels Continued to Present the Feminine Face of God
The New Old Testament: Tales of Patriarchs and Prophets That Became Christian Gospels
Out of the Past: The Heretical Sects That Preserved Ancient Alternative Scriptures for a Thousand Years
Beyond the Horizon: Muslim and Jewish Versions of the Earliest Christian Traditions
After Darkness, Light: How the Reformation Era Drove the Ancient Gospels from the Churches
Scriptures Unlimited? The Place of Alternative Scriptures in Christianity
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