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The Gnostic Gospels | [Elaine Pagels]

The Gnostic Gospels

The Gnostic Gospels provides engaging listening for those seeking a broader perspective on the early development of Christianity. Author and noted scholar Elaine Pagels suggests that Christianity could have developed quite differently if Gnostic texts had become part of the Christian canon.
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Publisher's Summary

The Gnostic Gospels provides engaging listening for those seeking a broader perspective on the early development of Christianity. Author and noted scholar Elaine Pagels suggests that Christianity could have developed quite differently if Gnostic texts had become part of the Christian canon. Without a doubt: Gnosticism celebrates God as both Mother and Father, shows a very human Jesus' relationship to Mary Magdalene, suggests the Resurrection is better understood symbolically, and speaks to self-knowledge as the route to union with God.

Pagels argues that Christian orthodoxy grew out of the political considerations of the day, serving to legitimize and consolidate early church leadership. Her contrast of that developing orthodoxy with Gnostic teachings presents an intriguing trajectory on a world faith as it "might have become".

©1979 Elaine Pagels; (P)2006 Random House, Inc. Random House Audio, a division of Random House, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"The first major and eminently readable book on gnosticism benefiting from the discovery in 1945 of a collection of Gnostic Christian texts at Nag Hammadi in Egypt." (The New York Times Book Review)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (306 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Colin ReadingUnited Kingdom 02-27-07
    Colin ReadingUnited Kingdom 02-27-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A must-read"

    There is so much to know about Christ, the origins of the Christian faith, and how it turned out the way it has.
    Unfortunately for a great many reasons the contents of these and probably many other texts have been hidden from the world for hundreds of years and its great to have these particular ones set out so well in their greater context.

    This book introduces and suggests things that most Christians (or anyone for that matter) would never consider a possibility, enhances many pieces of understanding and severely challenges others.
    There's no new religion here, but the one you had is supplied with some interesting additions!

    Dr Pagels' extensive subject knowledge of the texts of the Nag Hammadi library as well as other historical, political and religious sources, brings up some key questions and facts, attempts to answer them in light of a far wider body of evidence and leaves the reader wanting to continue the study...
    Which is possibly the best thing a book like this can do

    15 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laura Boynton Beach, FL, USA 05-19-06
    Laura Boynton Beach, FL, USA 05-19-06
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    "The other side of Jesus"

    Interesting, enlightening and intense: the listener learns about another side of Jesus, one that encourages his disciples to find the truth within themselves.

    The issues before the early church are discussed and you come to understand why the church rejected these gnostic teachings. They felt that Jesus intended to be accessible to more than an educated, elite few. That's hard to argue, but the idea of self-knowledge is also appealing, at least to me.

    Dr Pagels refrains from editorializing, which I appreciated. She tells you what the manuscripts say, develops some of the concepts, and leaves it to you to decide what you believe.

    This book is so packed with information that I think I would have preferred the printed form, so I could re-review particular passages. I also found the reader's voice to be rough and raspy, unlike Dr Pagel's voice which is smooth and pleasant (as seen on TV).

    Overall, very worth the effort, and you'll probably want to listen to it more than once.

    22 of 23 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chi-Hung Riverside, CA, USA 01-01-08
    Chi-Hung Riverside, CA, USA 01-01-08
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    "A very clear argument."

    I enjoyed this book, as the author presented a very clear account of the strives between Christian Orthodoxy and Gnostic Christianity. It is no wonder that this book has stood as an authoritative work on the subject.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cornelia B. Green Valley, AZ 02-25-10
    Cornelia B. Green Valley, AZ 02-25-10
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    "Disappointing"

    I was looking forward to this book, and was disappointed. The author spends more time talking about what is referred to as the catholic church and/or the "Orthodox" Christian church, and "Orthodox" christianity, rather than on what the Gnostic Gospels reveal, the story behind them etc.

    5 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Seeker77 Dunkirk, MD United States 05-08-12
    Seeker77 Dunkirk, MD United States 05-08-12
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    "This title is not a reading of the Gnostic Gospels"
    Any additional comments?

    The topic was interesting, well written and well read but I was expecting a reading of Gnostic Scriptures and that I did not get.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James LARCHMONT, NY, United States 04-30-12
    James LARCHMONT, NY, United States 04-30-12
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    2
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    Performance
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    "Stimulating exploration of early Christian Thought"
    Where does The Gnostic Gospels rank among all the audiobooks you???ve listened to so far?

    The Gnostoc Gospe;s deals with a special and somewhat arcane subject. It is not comparable to toehr books


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Gnostic Gospels?

    the desription of the diference between gnostic and orthodox think on the nature of Jesus


    What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

    The author is the reader. She is clear in her atirulation and convincing in here scholarship


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    No


    Any additional comments?

    An essential book for anyone interested in the development of Christian faith

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christine Alpharetta, GA, United States 04-17-12
    Christine Alpharetta, GA, United States 04-17-12
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    "Very interesting information"
    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Gnostic Gospels?

    Recognizing what motivated the early apostles to choose the gospels they did to develop
    the church.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Discussion of the mystical aspects of the lesser known gospels.


    Any additional comments?

    Well done very informatove.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    ALBERT EARL SHEAR GLENDALE, CA United States 05-16-12
    ALBERT EARL SHEAR GLENDALE, CA United States 05-16-12
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    "The early politics of christianity"
    What made the experience of listening to The Gnostic Gospels the most enjoyable?

    The genuine personal search of the author


    Any additional comments?

    I'm not one of faithful just a history nut.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Wurtland, KY, USA 09-25-07
    David Wurtland, KY, USA 09-25-07
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    "Too feminist for me"

    The author is an acknowledged expert on the Gnostic Gospels having wrote a Ph.D in the subject at Harvard and Oxford. But, a feminist slant appears about 3 hours into the work and it then becomes a thinly veiled platform for a feminist agenda. I lost interest in the audiobook then.

    The narrator also seems to get agitated when discussing the unfair way in which Paul describes the role of women in the Church --this having little to do with the Gnostic Gospels directly.

    You will like this book if you are a feminist and are searching for early Christian texts that confirm your predispositions. I find it peculiar that the God that created the universe would care whether Jesus kissed Mary on the mouth.

    I found Paul Johnson's book on the History of Christianity more interesting although it is not unfortunately for offer on audio.

    13 of 50 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Renee Tucson, AZ, United States 02-05-09
    Renee Tucson, AZ, United States 02-05-09
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    "if you're really into bibliography"

    I cannot recommend this too highly.

    "Contributors to this analysis include R.H. Smith, in Great Britain, G.B. Smuythe, in the Netherlands, D.H. Lawrence, in Germany, L.D. Clark, in Poland. . . " and on and on and on. For those who like it, it's what they like.

    There's interesting stuff in here, somewhere, but when it's on your iPod you can't just turn the page.

    4 of 30 people found this review helpful
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