This anthology of non-canonical gospels, acts of the apostles, epistles, apocalypses and related writings in highly readable English translation is designed as a companion to Bart Ehrman's Lost Christianities: The Battle for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew. Of the 47 early Christian writings that are included in this book, 19 are translated by Ehrman, while the rest are reproduced with permission from contemporary critical translations. Each writing is preceded by a short introduction to its background and context. The entire work is prefaced by a general introduction, and concludes with the inclusion of five canonical lists (Muratorian, Origen, Eusebius, Athanasius, Third Synod of Carthage), serving to elucidate, in the author's words, the "considerable debate concerning which books to include" (p. 5).
In terms of critical scholarly analysis and detailed bibliographical references, Lost Scriptures does not compare to the older scholarly works in this field, e.g., Wilhelm Schneemelcher's New Testament Apocrypha or J.K. Elliott's The Apocryphal New Testament. Indeed, scholars and serious students might find its introductory essay (pp. 1-5) and the background information to each early Christian text to be sparse, simplistic, and at times, sweeping. To fill in this lacuna, Erhman repeatedly directs readers to the relevant pages of Lost Christianities. This is a less than adequate solution at best, as it requires readers to purchase a copy of Lost Christianities for this purpose. Other significant shortcomings to this otherwise handy work include the lack of an index and a bibliography for readers who are interested in delving further. In particular, the omission of an index significantly diminishes the usefulness of this book to readers who are interested in cross-referencing or searching for the occurrences of keywords or thematic ideas across these early Christian writings. Nonetheless, taken as a whole, Lost Scriptures serves as a highly accessible introduction to the diversity and plurality of early Christian writings for a popular audience.