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4.0 out of 5 stars Looking at history turned upside down, 25 Sep 2010
This review is from: Reading Judas: The Controversial Message of the Ancient Gospel of Judas (Paperback)
Elaine Pagels has devoted her research and her profound scholarship to unearthing and interpreting the evidence for the "lost " gospels which were rejected by the earliest Christian authorities. "The Gospel of Judas" seems the most unlikely and the most heretical of all of these. Existing in a fragmentary text, already copied from a lost and disputed original, the outcast Apostle is revealed as an outraged critic and denier of the mainstream New Testament tradition.

The text of this gospel is hard to understand, let alone interpret; Judas is accusing the other Apostles of leading Christian men and women to death and destruction, and to blasphemy of Christ's teaching. Elaine Pagels explains why this revolutionary history as told by a 2nd century writer attacks the legacy of Christianity in this way. Her explanation is in many ways shocking.

But in four outstanding chapters of explanation before the gospel translation itself, Elaine Pagels lays out an extraordinary new look at the history of early Christianity, of how difficult it was for the first Apostles and their converts to establish a unified church and body of doctrine, sweeping as the new faith did across the world, coming up against the traditions of other cultures. At the same time, they were coming to terms with the meaning of the death and resurrection of Christ.

Elaine's books are radical, rely on the best scholarly evidence, and are profound and searching in their quest for meaning. They demand courage and thoughtfulness from the reader. You may reject her view of what happened to the early Christian views that were banned as heretical; but you will find yourself examining your own in depth.
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