We know that the early Christian church had a variety of Scriptures and other source material that informed their faith and shaped their thinking. We also know that after a few centuries the church decided to keep the twenty-seven books of our present New Testament and to treat them as canonical in faith and practice. But the other books did not simply disappear. In fact, many of them remain valuable for understanding the diversity of the early Christian church and the astounding claims of faith on which the church was founded. Learning about these ancient documents need not threaten the church's current orthodoxy and authority; in fact, learning about these texts can help today's Christians form a deeper understanding of the early church.
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