"The Lost Bible" is a collection of works from the rich body of sacred ancient literature, the 'unofficial scriptures' which, for a variety of reasons, were not incorporated into the Jewish and Christian Bibles. Highly accessible and superbly illustrated, this book presents an astonishing range of powerful and beautiful writings, rich in character, incident, spiritual profundity and literary merit. In the centuries around the beginning of the Common Era, the Jewish people drew spiritual inspiration from hundreds of sacred stories, not just those that make up the Hebrew Bible we know today. "Early Christianity" also possessed a wealth of writings considered authoritative; many of these did not become part of the New Testament but they remained popular among believers and were important in spreading the faith. After the Jewish and Christian canons were established, many of these works disappeared into obscurity, some of them suppressed. Some writings were entirely lost, while others survived in translations; some were widely known, while others circulated only among small groups and sects.
But many continued to animate and influence the faithful, and provided a rich source of popular legends and traditions. With deft and profound scholarship, the late Professor Roy Porter presents the general reader with a selection of these extraordinary and beautiful works, assessing their context, character and importance. More than 100 text extracts are presented and discussed, ranging from what are claimed to be the very words written by Eve herself to a treasury of legends that include the strange miracles and violent outbursts of the boy Jesus. Each entry consists of an introduction and an enlightening commentary, alongside the translated extract in clear, up-to-date language.
The late J.R. Porter was Professor Emeritus of Theology at the University of Exeter. His publications include The Oxford Companion to the Bible, Harper's Bible Dictionary, The Illustrated Guide to the Bible and Jesus Christ (last two DBP).