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The Gnostic Gospels Paperback – 6 Apr 2006

4.3 out of 5 stars 65 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: W&N; New Ed edition (6 April 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0753821141
  • ISBN-13: 978-0753821145
  • Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 1.3 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 32,582 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Review

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.

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Format: Paperback
A fortuitous event occured on an Egyptian hillside nearly half a century ago. The finding of a set of papyrus books might have sundered the Christian world irreparably. Or it might have heralded a new ecumenical movement undreamt of in an earlier day. The books proved to be the writings of a Christian sect known as the Gnostics. This group formed shortly after the death or disappearance of the teacher known as Jesus. The followers of this teacher generated many interpreters in the years after his disappearance, but these were either absorbed in the orthodoxy created by Roman Emperor Constantine or killed or driven into exile by the hierarchy established by his fiat. Most of their writings disappeared with them.
Pagels, a specialist in the Gnostic gospels, presents the story of the find and outlines the philosophy with sympathy and clarity. In six succinct chapters, she reveals the drastic departure from what we know as Christianity today. Although others have questioned the notion of the Trinity, the Gnostics were firmly opposed to the tripartite division of one spirit into three identities. The "resurrection", so firmly entrenched in today's faith, was viewed in a completely different way by the Gnostics. Their writings contest the notion of Jesus as a deity in human form. Furthermore, the Gnostics couldn't accept the restricted group of "observers" of the resurrected Jesus that orthodox accounts relate. Displays of the spirit would occur down through time, they contested, and to all who were prepared to see it. This universal revelation overturned the sort of hierarchical structure that was developing among other Christians and would be endorsed by Constatine. The Gnostics felt relations with the deity should be universally available.
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Format: Paperback
Noted historian of the early church Elaine Pagels has produced a clear, cogent, and very effective introduction to the subject of Gnosticism, a different form of Christianity that was declared heretical and virtually stamped out by the orthodox church by the start of the second century after Christ. Most of what we knew of the Gnostic belief system came from the religious authors who worked so hard to destroy the movement, but that changed drastically with the still relatively recent discovery of a number of lost Gnostic writings near Nag Hammadi in Upper Egypt. Unlike the Dead Sea Scrolls, this momentous discovery of ancient papyri has received little attention, and I must admit I went into this book knowing virtually nothing about Gnosticism. As an historian by training and a Christian, the information in these "heretical" texts intrigue me, and I believe that Christians should challenge their faith by examining material that does not fall in line with accepted beliefs. I should note that Pagels does not attempt to summarize or examine in detail the Gnostic Gospels in and of themselves; her particular focus here is the way in which Gnosticism affected the rise of the orthodox church that declared the Gnostics heretics. Still, she presents a great deal of information on many of the newly discovered texts and inarguably shows that the Christian church was founded in a society espousing a number of contradictory viewpoints.
Pagels does a good job of presenting the context in which the early Christians lived and eventually argued against one another. The debate was seemingly one over spiritual authority, and social and political issues played a part alongside purely religious disagreements between different factions.
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Format: Paperback
Elaine Pagels' excellent book titled "The Gnostic Gospels" is about the works of a Christian Coptic Sect discovered at Nag Hammadi, Egypt in 1945. Although the Gnostic Gospels were compiled in 140 A.D., scholars say their traditions may be older than the gospels in the New Testament.
It was interesting to read the manuscript with 118 sayings of Christ gathered by St. Thomas known as the Gospel of St. Thomas. Although many of Christ's sayings are already in the New Testament there is one big difference: Jesus emphasizes salvation through self-knowledge and faith. Salvation through self-knowledge and faith makes more sense to me as salvation without self-knowledge would make us vulnerable to manipulation while salvation without faith could lead grandiosity and isolation.
"The Gnostic Gospels" invites the reader to deal with the old controversy-was the Bible divinely inspired or did it evolve at the hands of churchmen with various political, social and religious purposes? Why is the Gospel of St. Thomas not included, what constitutes being "divinely inspired" and is the Bible the only book God has written through humankind?
Solomon Schepps wrote in "The Lost Books of the Bible" that the official Biblical text was completed by two major counsels, in North Africa in Hippo (Augustine Bishopric) in 393, and in Carthage in 397. He said that there had been great difficulty in choosing the Gospels and after much debate, only four were chosen. The Gospel of St. Thomas was rejected as it opened by saying the he who understands the words of Jesus will be saved which is in direct contradiction to the chosen Gospels and Paul's Epistles, which says he who believes will be saved.
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