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.
"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)
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Gnostoc Gospe;s deals with a special and somewhat arcane subject. It is not comparable to toehr books
the desription of the diference between gnostic and orthodox think on the nature of Jesus
The author is the reader. She is clear in her atirulation and convincing in here scholarship
An essential book for anyone interested in the development of Christian faith
Recognizing what motivated the early apostles to choose the gospels they did to develop
Discussion of the mystical aspects of the lesser known gospels.
Well done very informatove.
The topic was interesting, well written and well read but I was expecting a reading of Gnostic Scriptures and that I did not get.
The genuine personal search of the author
I'm not one of faithful just a history nut.
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.
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