The New Testament and Other Early Christian Writings: A ReaderBart D. Ehrman (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1997) 416 pp., $22.50 (paperback)
Gathered here for the first time in one volume are all Christian writings known to have been written during the first years of the Church (30–130 A.D.). When the canon of the New Testament was fixed in the fourth and fifth centuries, 27 books were included, but they were not the only Christian writings produced during the first hundred years of the Church. Bart Ehrman, associate professor of religious studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, begins with an overview of how the canon was formed, giving the reader a general background to the texts; each text is then presented in an accessible English translation accompanied by a discussion of the text’s author, date of composition and major themes. The texts included range from the Gospels of Thomas and Peter to Paul’s Letter to the Romans to the Apocalypse of Peter. These writings reflect the variety of early Christian views on such topics as God and Jesus, ethics, ritual practices and salvation.