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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

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  •  
    Colin ReadingUnited Kingdom 02-27-07
    Colin ReadingUnited Kingdom 02-27-07
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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

    17 of 17 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.

    26 of 27 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chi-Hung Riverside, CA, USA 01-01-08
    Chi-Hung Riverside, CA, USA 01-01-08 Member Since 2010
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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.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    CHET YARBROUGH LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, United States 12-06-14
    CHET YARBROUGH LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, United States 12-06-14 Member Since 2015

    Faced with mindless duty, when an audio book player slips into a rear pocket and mini buds pop into ears, old is made new again.

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    "THE TRUE CHURCH"

    Elaine Pagels is a Professor of Religion at Princeton University. She has a Ph.D. in religion from Harvard University. Modern Library calls Pagels’ book, “The Gnostic Gospels” one of the 100 most important books of the twentieth century.

    For all religious organizations and particularly the Christian church, “The Gnostic Gospels” shakes the foundations of institutional religion. Like the beginning of a story of adventure and mystery, Pagels recounts the discovery of a fifty-two text collection of papyrus sheets recounting the beginnings of the Christian church.

    Frustration remains at the conclusion of “The Gnostic Gospels”, even after reading Pagels’ insightful interpretation, because gnostic documentation is, like every written document of the time, removed from “witnesses to the truth”, i.e. people who lived in Jesus’ time.

    However, the Coptic text shows that in the near-beginnings of the Christian religion there were questions about who Jesus was and what he was about; i.e. was he simply a prophet or the Son of God, was he preaching for the creation of a religion or were historical facts manipulated to create a religious hierarchal institution, was Mary Magdalene a conjugal companion or disciple?

    Pagels’ interpretation in “The Gnostic Gospels” suggests that Jesus was a prophet; that his life story was manipulated to create a religious hierarchal institution, and that Mary Magdalene was a disciple.

    The more fundamental issue in “The Gnostic Gospels” is the idea of the “Kingdom of God” being present within every human being, then and now, and that self-knowledge is the source of admittance to grace. If one believes this teaching, it does not necessarily require abandonment of organized religion but it suggests that church institutions’ only role is to aid personal revelation; not to ritualize admittance to the “Kingdom of God” by christening mankind or bludgeoning all who do not accept a church’s vision of religion.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    CB 02-25-10
    CB 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.

    9 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Seeker77 Dunkirk, MD United States 05-08-12
    Seeker77 Dunkirk, MD United States 05-08-12 Member Since 2011
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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.

    6 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark D Friend 94103 02-24-15
    Mark D Friend 94103 02-24-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Amazing book based upon much research."

    Information is presented in a logical manner which the listener can then research on their own.

    The documents found shed light on the early formation of christinality. it leaves the listener wondering what was lost in the burning.

    I highly recommend this book. The listener will likely need to listen over and over in order to fully comprehend the facts presented.

    This has become a prized audio book in my collection. Those who purchase will likely feel the same.

    Lastly, Lorna does a remarkable job reading for the listener. Her pauses, change in tone and other skills show that she is a consummate professional to which I must say "thank you".

    This is a must read if your on your quest to learn; to move forward, to form a closer relationship with God.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Krush 04-22-15
    Krush 04-22-15 Member Since 2015

    Mr Krush

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    "Too general"
    Would you try another book from Elaine Pagels and/or Lorna Raver?

    I listened to Prof. Pagels book on the Gospel of Thomas and was a little disappointed as she spoke very little of this specific gospel and more about the history of the Catholic Church. In any case, she got me intrigued about the gnostic gospels so I tried listening to this book and it's more of the same. She doesn't reveal exactly what is in these secret and/or gnostic gospels. I am returning this book. I wish the Nag Hammadi Scriptures were on audible.


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    Not really finding what interests me...Nag Hammadi by Marvin Meyer is not in audible, Meister Eckhart's texts are not available and there is nearly nothing on Hindu Vedantic philosophy. So I don't know.....


    Would you listen to another book narrated by Lorna Raver?

    Yes, why not.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Gnostic Gospels?

    It's not what I would have cut, it's what is missing that is the problem.


    Any additional comments?

    Please add more philosophy and religious texts to audible.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ray 04-13-15
    Ray 04-13-15 Member Since 2015
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    "If you're done with Christianity but want the trut"

    Book touches on the teachings of Thomas the contender a man who would've single handedly flipped the church upside down

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James LARCHMONT, NY, United States 04-30-12
    James LARCHMONT, NY, United States 04-30-12 Member Since 2010
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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

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