The Forgotten Creed: Christianity's Original Struggle Against Bigotry, Slavery, and Sexism


Product Details

Oxford University Press, USA
Publish Date
6.1 X 9.3 X 0.8 inches | 0.83 pounds

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About the Author

Stephen J. Patterson is the George H. Atkinson Professor of Religious and Ethical Studies at Willamette University. A historian of religion, Patterson specializes in the origins of Christianity, especially the hidden histories found in books that were not included in the Bible. He has authored and co-authored nine books and more than a hundred essays, articles, and reviews, including most recently The Gospel of Thomas and Christian Origins (2013) and The Lost Way: How Two Forgotten Gospels are Rewriting the Story of Christian Origins (2014).


"A valuable resource for those interested in Christian origins and New Testament interpretation... Highly Recommended." -- CHOICE

"With a style as serenely clear as its content is powerfully persuasive, this book is an elegy for Christianity's earliest baptismal creed which promised that Roman distinctions would not become Christian discriminations and that the basic differences of race, class, and gender would not become hierarchies of oppression. When that inaugural creed is forgotten, Christians are born again, not into a transformed world, but simply into the same one as before. Read this book not just as past Christian history but as present American challenge." --John Dominic Crossan, author of How to Read the Bible and Still Be a Christian

"The Forgotten Creed carries a vital message for our time: at the heart of Christianity is a call for solidarity that has been lost. In his careful examination of one of the earliest Christian creeds and rituals, Stephen Patterson reveals our long history of fearing others and exposes the categories used by the powerful to divide, conquer, and oppress. 'What does Christianity have to say about race, class, and gender?' Patterson asks. 'Everything.' At the core of The Forgotten Creed is a vision for communities in which difference is honored, diversity is celebrated, and equality is divine. An urgent, necessary book that should be required reading in every church."--Sarah Sentilles, author of Draw Your Weapons

"A cogent and an inspiring case for the earliest Christian baptismal creed being a proclamation of human dignity for all. It is not only a well-documented argument about an early Christian liturgical fragment, it is a clarion call for an ethical vision urgently needed now."--Pamela Eisenbaum, author of Paul Was Not a Christian

"A positive and nuanced approach to addressing issues of power and diversity."--Library Journal

"Patterson has put his finger on what may have been the transforming content of that first encounter with Jesus. Something about him cut to the heart of the human condition's most troubling aspect--the way, out of fear and for the sake of power, we humans turn accidents of identity into weapons... Patterson is right to lift the old creed up, especially now, and say, 'Why not?'"--James Carroll, American Prospect

"Writing for both lay and academic audiences, Patterson challenges traditional interpretation... he makes a compelling case for the radical equality that he sees as basic to Christianity. A valuable resource for those interested in Christian origins and New Testament interpretation." --Choice Connect Reviews