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Understanding Christianity

Historians know stuff about Christianity that most of us don’t. Below are some easy options to learn from the comfort of your computer or mobile device.

Three lecture series

The New Testament

The Hebrew Scriptures / “Old Testament”

The Early Church Fathers

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The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings textbook, by Bart Ehrman. Possibly, the most used university intro text on the subject. You can read it online, or use the options to download it as a PDF, epub, or other formats, and read it locally / offline on your device.

– An Online Bible with tools is always handy. This site allows you to look at virtually any version of the Bible that you like, and even look at all the versions of any passage of the Bible at the same time.

– You can kick back and listen to the Bible any time. Start here with the Gospel of Mark. You can move to any place in the Bible you want, and if you check the “continuous play” checkbox, it will read from that spot and, like the energizer bunny, keep going, and going…

Finally, I’d like to recommend two books that might be all that the average person needs to get a better understanding of Christianity than virtually anyone else in their circle of friends. I list these below the items above because you have to go out and buy these 2 books, as apposed to the links above which can all be consumed for free, on the web, right now, from the comfort of your home or mobile devices. YES, I have always hated the titles of this and the Idiots Guide series, I think the titles are bad in that you sort of say “I am a dummy” or “idiot” when you take them off the shelve. But, if you get past that, and understand they are meant to be catchy titles meant to be funny, not a reflection of you, the content of these books is nothing less than excellent.

Christianity for Dummies

The Bible for Dummies

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– Paul Johnson’s A History of Christianity - excellent single volume history of Christianity overview.

– The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings, by Bart Ehrman. pdf / Amazon

Who Wrote the Bible? by Richard Elliot Friedman

The Quest of the Historical Jesus, by Albert Schweitzer (free audiobook via LibriVox.org)

Paul and Jesus; How the apostle transformed Christianity, by James D. Tabor

The Amazing Colossal Apostle, by Robert M. Price

A Concise History of the Catholic Church, by Thomas Bokenkotter

The Life of Jesus Critically Examined, by David Friedrich Strauss (free audiobook via LibriVox.org)

Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest Christianity, by Walter Bauer

On the Historicity of Jesus, by Richard Carrier

Jesus: A Life, by A.N. Wilson (Recommended because it gives you view of someone outside the industry)

Paul: The Mind of the Apostle, by A.N. Wilson (Recommended because it gives you view of someone outside the industry)

The Jesus Puzzle, by Earl Doherty

Jesus Before the Gospels: How the Earliest Christians Remembered, Changed, and Invented Their Stories of the Savior, by Bart Ehrman

Forged: Writing in the Name of God : Why the Bible’s Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are, by Bart D. Ehrman

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Online Resources

Online Bible - BlueLetterBible.org

Audio Bible

Complete writings of the Church Fathers

EarlyChristianWritings.com

List of New Testament Papyri

List of New Testament uncials

Lists of New Testament minuscules

Didache

Gospel Parallels (you REALLY want this physical book; see Gospel parallels)

Dr. Robert M. Price’s recommended reading list

Roman Catholic Encyclopedia

Episcopal Lectionary

Catholic Lectionary

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Creeds

The three Christian groups; Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Protestant, use creeds in an attempt to describe the minimum beliefs necessary to be considered a properly believing orthodox member, avoid heresy or heterodoxy, and subscribe to at least one of the creeds below:

– The Apostles Creed was developed between the second and ninth centuries. It is the most popular creed used in worship by Western Christians.

– The Nicene Creed, largely a response to Arianism, was formulated at the Councils of Nicaea andConstantinople in 325 and 381 respectively and ratified as the universal creed of Christendom by the First Council of Ephesus in 431.

– The Chalcedonian Creed, developed at the Council of Chalcedon in 451, though rejected by the Oriental Orthodox Churches, taught Christ “to be acknowledged in two natures, inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably”: one divine and one human, and that both natures are perfect but are nevertheless perfectly united into one person.

– The Athanasian Creed, received in the western Church as having the same status as the Nicene and Chalcedonian, says: “We worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; neither confounding the Persons nor dividing the Substance.”