Friday, November 10, 2006

The Pre-Nicene New Testament

The Pre-Nicene New Testament

The Pre-Nicene New Testament
Fifty-four Formative Texts
hardback. 1,248 pages. / 1-56085-194-5 / $49.95

Through to the mid-fourth century AD, there were twice as many sacred writings in circulation in Christendom as were ultimately canonized for the New Testament. Not until AD 367, forty-two years after the famous Council of Nicea, would Saint Athanasius begin sorting through and determining which works should be granted special status. Prior to that time, Christians had recognized only the Hebrew Bible as scripture, all other works being seen as expressions rather than as sources of faith. Out of political necessity, and for the sake of unity and order in the church, canonization was harshly imposed on the churches. For scholars today, seeking to understand the breadth of early Christian teachings, it is important to consider all available sources. To that end, Professor Price offers the earliest extant versions of fifty-four books, all of which were once considered sacred, including both the New Testament books and lesser known works. These have been compiled into a single convenient, readable, and reliable volume.

from the jacket:

"Robert Price's Pre-Nicene New Testament is a Herculean effort. All the main texts are here and then some. Everything the student, specialist, or enthusiast might need—and in a new, refreshing, accurate, and personal, as well as consistent, translation. The collection even includes Mandaean texts about John the Baptist and Samaritan-rooted ones about Simon Magus and his colleagues or school—and even Marcion.

"But from my perspective, what is most interesting is that Price has actually grasped the importance and true significance of the Dead Sea Scrolls as fundamental texts to the development of pre-Gnostic Pauline/Johannine/Marcionite 'Christianity' and gives a translation of what he labels the Qumran 'Hymns of the Just' and the controversial 'Letter on Works Righteousness' (MMT), which he identifies as the fabled 'Letter to Abgarus'—a communication to 'the Great King of the Peoples beyond the Euphrates,' delivered by 'Judas Barsabbas' or 'Thaddaeus' (a.k.a. 'Judas the brother of James') to 'the King of the Edessenes.'

"The student will be grateful for this far-reaching and exhaustive effort on the part of Professor Price. A must for any aficionado of the context, content, and roots of early Christianity."

—Robert H. Eisenman, Professor of Middle East Religions and Archaeology, California State University, Long Beach; Visiting Senior Member of Linacre College, Oxford University; author of James the Brother of Jesus and The New Testament Code

"This book is a feast of well-digested learning, building on the work of the giants of German scholarship. Exploring the context from which Christianity and its familiar scriptures emerged in the fourth century, Price has selected important witnesses to the early debate: the Book of John the Baptizer, the Generations of Jesus, the Gospel of the Hebrews, Gospel of Peter, Gospel of Thomas, letter of Barnabas, the prophecies of Hermas, and many more. He offers his own translations and reconstructions, highlighting key issues and, alongside the New Testament, throwing new light on familiar themes. The ideas are controversial and will provoke debate, but they should inspire much needed discussion among those who truly seek to discover the teachings of Jesus."

—Margaret Barker, past president of the Society for Old Testament Study and current editor of the society's monograph series; author of The Temple Roots of Christian Liturgy and other acclaimed works.

Robert M. PriceRobert M. Price holds doctoral degrees from Drew University in both theology and New Testament. He is currently Professor of Biblical Criticism at the Center for Inquiry Institute in Amherst, New York, and editor of the Journal of Higher Crit-icism. His books include Deconstructing Jesus, Paul as Text: The Apostle and the Apocrypha, and The Widow Traditions in Luke-Acts: A Feminist-Critical Scrutiny. He has published in the American Rationalist, Dialogue, Evangelical Quarterly, Journal of Psychology and Theology, Hervormde Teologiese Studies, Reformed Journal, and elsewhere.

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