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The Gnostic Gospels [Kindle Edition]

Elaine Pagels
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £8.99
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Book Description

As discussed in The Da Vinci Code... Long buried and suppressed, the Gnostic Gospels contain the secret writings attributed to the followers of Jesus.

In 1945 fifty-two papyrus texts, including gospels and other secret documents, were found concealed in an earthenware jar buried in the Egyptian desert. These so-called Gnostic writings were Coptic translations from the original Greek dating from the time of the New Testament. The material they embodied - poems, quasi-philosophical descriptions of the origins of the universe, myths, magic and instructions for mystic practice - were later declared heretical, as they offered a powerful alternative to the Orthodox Christian tradition.

In a book that is as exciting as it is scholarly, Elaine Pagels examines these texts and the questions they pose and shows why Gnosticism was eventually stamped out by the increasingly organised and institutionalised Orthodox Church.

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If you must buy one of the many books being pumped out this season to capitalise on the film of the mega-selling book [THE DA VINCI CODE], this is the one to get. (SUNDAY HERALD (7.5.06))

Book Description

As discussed in The Da Vinci Code... Long buried and suppressed, the Gnostic Gospels contain the secret writings attributed to the followers of Jesus.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1926 KB
  • Print Length: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson; New Ed edition (25 July 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #55,178 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
125 of 131 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Losers' Side of the Story 6 Feb. 2004
The Gnostic Gospels which were discovered in Egypt in 1945 show us the variety of gospels circulated among early adherents during the first few centuries after Christ. In describing the effects of these gospels on the evolution of Christianity Elaine Pagels is able to make a complex subject seem quite understandable.
We always knew that orthodox believers frequently denounced gnostic ideas. The discovery of the gnostic texts has revealed how gnosticism defended itself and in turn attacked orthodox beliefs.
The othodox position was that the generations of Christians who lived after the time of the apostles could not possibly have the same access to Christ as the apostles did during Christ's lifetime. Therefore these later Christians would have to look to the church and its bishops for teaching and leadership. The gnostic attitude was that access to God was available to any believer and some church elders themselves may not yet have had
this same God experience. Many gnostics believed that all who had received this gnosis had transcended the authority of the church's hierarchy. People received gnosis when they came into contact with the living Christ.
The main benefit I have received from reading THE GNOSTIC GOSPELS has been a greater appreciation of the early development of Christianity. I was able to see for the first time the other side of the story - a view of a contentious debate among early Christians from the losing side.
As for the winning side, it had never occurred to me before reading Pagels' book that the structure of the Roman Catholic church was based on an organizational model of the Roman army.
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101 of 106 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not Quite What I Expected 18 Nov. 2002
This book was not quite what I thought it would be however it was still very good. I was hoping for a printing of the Gnostic Gospels themselves. But what I got was a study of The Gnostic Religion versus the Roman Catholic Church and other orthodox Christian sects. Offering compelling information on the differences of their beliefs in the writings of The New Testament.
The book also explains what Gnosis is, is God male or female? Is there more than one God, proven in the Bible? It talks of how the two Christian Churches were formed in the beginning and how and why the present version won out. Also of interest is a chapter on the Christians suffering under the Roman Empire.
This book was thought provoking and kept my interest throughout. It touched on a lot of subjects for such a short project. While I don't think this book should be considered the final word on any debate about Christianity or the Gnostic Religion I believe that it certainly should be on any list when it comes to understanding Gnostics.
Read with an open mind and this book will lead you down paths you had not considered. Explain an alternate way to read some of the versus in the Bible. Talk of recently found teachings from the days of Jesus and before. Don't miss this one.
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113 of 119 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I know what I know... 22 Dec. 2005
By Kurt Messick HALL OF FAME
In her prize-winning book 'The Gnostic Gospels', a book which has remained in the popular eye for the past two decades since its first publication in 1979, Elaine Pagels has put together a popular treatment of a hitherto (but since more popularly-accessible) academic-only subject. The discoveries of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Nag Hammadi Library were very much a topic of conversation, but always topics about which things were spoken, rather than of which things were spoken. This book helped change that in common parlance, and also served as a basic primer for those new to the field who would then proceed to more in-depth study and analysis.
In her relatively substantial introduction, Pagels goes through a history of the coming into light of the texts of Nag Hammadi, contrasting it with the more popularly known Dead Sea Scrolls. However, the Nag Hammadi texts also had their fair share of intrigue and cloak-and-dagger kinds of dealings, until finally coming into the relatively safe hands of museums and academics.
Pagels proceeds from this background with a brief history of Christian thought in the first few centuries after Christ. She particularly highlights the contrasts between orthodoxy and catholic trends, and how each relates to a gnostic point of view. What are the issues of the resurrection? Why was this taken literally? What authority is conferred upon those who saw the risen Lord, and why was it not so evenly spread (Mary Magdalene, alas, seems to have gotten the short end of the stick authority-wise, despite being listed numerous times as the first witness of the resurrection, and indeed the apostle to the apostles, proclaiming his resurrection to the unbelieving men).
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Impossible to put down... 22 Oct. 2000
By ich
I started reading this book while attempting to write an essay on 'The appeal of Gnosticism' and ended up reading it from cover to cover in about 8 hours. I'm a student and sometimes I feel alienated from my work but this book reminded me of all the questions that interest me.... why we say the apostles creed and why orthodoxy evolved as it has.... how modern churches reflect tendencies that were deemed heretical by the early church ... this book really deals with the theology developed by gnostics and its relation to the mainstream Christianity. Yet it does all this in a thoroughly accessible way, a respectable work that doesn't drown you with references. This is a thoroughly balanced and informative work written in a manner which should entice even the most inexpert non-bookworm to learn more about the 'secret knowledge' gnostic groups claimed to have and how it affected the development of the Christian Church and has continued to do so. I thoroughly recommend it.
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