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Book Title: The Gnostic Gospels|
The author of the book: Elaine Pagels
Edition: Phoenix (Orion)
Date of issue: April 6th 2006
ISBN 13: 9780753821145
City - Country: No data
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Reader ratings: 7.8
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 29.61 MB
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The apocryphal gospels, discovered by a farmer in 1945 at Nag Hammadi in Upper Egypt, are here explained in the context of late second-century RC church history. Gnostic (gnosis, Gk: knowledge) Christians did not believe that human intermediaries (priests, etc.) were necessary for an individual to find God. For the gnostics, enlightenment was an entirely inward and self-determined process. Gnostic Christians believed that Jesus was not divine but an ordinary man with an extraordinary message. They did not believe in the resurrection of the flesh. They did not believe in the eucharist, nor did they have any eschatalogical beliefs. They believed in a higher supreme god and a lower creator god, Yahweh, the Jewish god, who maliciously made man in his image and demanded to be worshipped by him. They believed that "secret wisdom" was handed down to the Apostles by Jesus, esoteric knowledge which was not vouchsafed to ordinary believers but only to mature ones. The gnostics believed that through their inner way of knowing God that they were then able to exceed the knowledge of the Apostles. There is language in the New Testament to support this idea of Jesus's secret wisdom. For the masses Jesus had only parables, exoteric knowledge appropriate to the less spiritually advanced. Late in the book some of the techniques for achieving gnosis are reviewed and they are surprisingly close to those used by Buddhists. Though Buddhists are nontheistic what they and the gnostics do has uncanny similarities. Elaine Pagels shows us that there was no early Christian golden age. That is to say, an age that had uniform teachings accepted by all. Instead the teachings were far more diverse than they are today, and highly contentious. Moreover, the RC church could have developed radically differently if some of these writings had been accepted, instead of being purged, as they were, so that someone, perhaps a monk belonging to a monastery near Nag Hammadi, buried them in a jar under the sand 1,600 years ago. I found the book fascinating and fun to read. I recommend it highly, as I do her Adam, Eve and the Serpent: Sex and Politics in Early Christianity, The Origin of Satan: How Christians Demonized Jews, Pagans and Heretics and Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas.
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Read information about the authorElaine Pagels is a preeminent figure in the theological community whose scholarship has earned her international respect. The Harrington Spear Paine Professor of Religion at Princeton University, she was awarded the Rockefeller, Guggenheim & MacArthur Fellowships in three consecutive years.
As a young researcher at Barnard College, she changed forever the historical landscape of the Christian religion by exploding the myth of the early Christian Church as a unified movement. Her findings were published in the bestselling book, The Gnostic Gospels, an analysis of 52 early Christian manuscripts that were unearthed in Egypt. Known collectively as the Nag Hammadi Library, the manuscripts show the pluralistic nature of the early church & the role of women in the developing movement. As the early church moved toward becoming an orthodox body with a canon, rites & clergy, the Nag Hammadi manuscripts were suppressed & deemed heretical. The Gnostic Gospels won both the Nat'l Book Critic’s Circle Award & the Nat'l Book Award & was chosen by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best books of the 20th Century.
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