NT Gateway The formation and selection process for the New Testament was very much human…and political. See the various links and books on NT Gateway. NTCanon.org provides helpful information, including a cross reference table of the New Testament and other works and the early Christian authorities that spoke regarding them.
For a general overview, there are many good sites: Biocrawler’s Guide to the New Testament, for one; for an extremely fascinating source history of where beliefs came from about abortion, the confession of sin, and even Mary’s virgin status in the church, check out Early Church Fathers.
For a more unorthodox look at religion alongside science, check out the fantastic Meta Religion site. It has thorough, well-organized, and up-to-the-minute information in English and Spanish on everything from the paranormal to neurology – putting the big questions in context of a modern society.
From Jesus to Christ This Frontline series which aired on PBS traces the evolution of Christianity through the transformation of its central figure. It documents the transformation of Jesus, a simple Jewish carpenter, into The Christ (Messiah or Annointed One) by his followers in the first few centuries after his death. The series is no longer being aired, but the website remains intact with many great resources regarding this early period of Christianity, including audio files from the documentary, historical information on the Hellenistic and Jewish culture of Jesus’ day, and profiles of the first Christian communities. The series may be purchased on DVD.
The Gospel of Judas Recently announced to the public, a manuscript of the lost Gospel of Judas has been restored and translated by National Geographic in conjunction with Maecenas Foundation for Ancient Art and the Waitt Institute for Historical Discovery. You may download a PDF file of the English or Coptic versions, or you may use the online interactive version with images of the original manuscript and overlays in English or Coptic. Timelines, historical information, restoration, and conservation information are also included on the site.
Early Christian Writings provides an extensive library of both canonical and non-canonical Christian works. There are four major categories, which make for easier browsing. The first is the New Testament, which includes canonical works as found in the New Testament. (The works included in the canon of scripture were those thought to be the oldest, and thus written by true witnesses to Jesus’ life and works. Historians have since found that a number of the books were written at later dates or by authors other than those attributed to having written them.) Next is the Apocrypha, including on-canonical works not found in the Bible, such as the Gospel of Mary and the Acts of John. The Gnostic section includes non-canonical works developed by the Gnostic Christians, which focused on “secrets” and “enlightenment”. (The Gospel of John, which was included in the canon of scripture, is the oldest gospel and contains metaphysical language and imagery common to Gnostic works. This gospel is thought to be heavily influence by the Gnostics. And finally, Church Fathers has letters written by key theologians of early Christianity such as Tertullian and Clement.
Bible Gateway A Bible database with search capabilities based on keyword, passage, or topic. You may look up a single chapter – or an entire book. There are 19 versions in English alone, most notable of which is “The Message.” This modern day version by Eugene Peterson was designed not as a study Bible (as it is not a direct translation), but as a reading Bible to help modern day readers appreciate the depth and profundity of the original message. Versions are also available for another 42 languages including Spanish, Japanese, Bulgarian, and Arabic.
And almost anything by Elaine Pagels is a fascinating read, whether on The Origin of Satan or The Gnostic Gospels, a book which won both the National Book Critics Award and the National Book Award, in addition to making it on to the Modern Library’s top 100 best books list.
For serious scholars, Jack Turner’s recommended reading list is as handy as it gets.