The Gnostic Gospels By Elaine Pagels

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lisaOxfordN96-157's picture
The Gnostic Gospels By Elaine Pagels

Has anyone read it? It’s a study of early Christianity and the Nag Hammadi texts. I thought it was interesting to see a mixing of eastern philosophy into early Christianity and the differing factions, how they hated each other, and the rise of the Roman Catholic Church.

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Old man shouts at clouds's picture
Reading it as you were

Reading it as you were writing!

Cognostic's picture
I thought it was interesting

I thought it was interesting that Jesus ate sperm, Mary or Judas was the chosen disciple depending on what gospel you read, That the Pauline Christians were making up stories, that Jesus killed his playmates, and so much more. I did not read here book, I read the Gnostic Gospels. Most are available on line.

Old man shouts at clouds's picture
@ Cog

@ Cog

I too have read nearly the gnostic gospels, I am re reading them in conjunction with Elaine's book. She writes very well and with rare clarity.

I am finding the differences in the books between codex interesting, also those recovered in Nag Hammadi and earlier greek fragments. Gives a very real feel for the 2nd and 3rd CE conflicts. Puts Irenaeus and Tertullian into a very straight context.

Also, thanks to Elaine am beginning to understand why Ehrlman is promulgating the "probable Jesus" . I do not agree, but I can appreciate his viewpoint.
The Book of Mary (what survives) is a case in point. The dialogue reads like an actual report of an incident, or, a play......I tried some of it out as a scene this afternoon...very real. Maybe the Gnosts used the texts like the FreeMasons use their blue book...something to act out in temple/church and then is a very effective form of learning.

Cognostic's picture
I'm actually convinced that a

I'm actually convinced that a lot of these gospels were plays prior to being written down. The oral tradition lends itself to that and so many people were illiterate that the play was one of the best ways to inform, sway, persuade people. So even when people got together for a reading. *early Christians / agnostics included* I really think they has something akin to a play.

Old man shouts at clouds's picture
@ Cog

@ Cog

And I thought it was just me with my background...but unlike the modern gospels* the gnostics really do seem to have been designed for "live reading" which would tie in with their habit of drawing lots for who conducts services in the various offices such as Bishop, Deacon and Priest.

Glad to see we agree, after all two geniuses can't be wrong, right?

*I find the modern synoptic gospels a very disjointed read with great chunks of missing information, designed to be read 'at' people instead of involving them. Symptomatic of the authoritative version of christianity espoused by the Pauline church in the 2nd and 3rd Century CE.

Cognostic's picture
I just like them because I

I just like them because I know the Church simply removed or did not consider them at the time even though there were popular Christian sects based on them. These books are no more or less authoritative than the books included in the official cannon based on any criteria set forth for the official cannon. Over half of today's King Jame Bible is fought with forgery and late additions. *Bart Erhman and Richard Carrier agree." The Bible we have is a work of FICTION.

toto974's picture
I will read them, seems to be

I will read them, seems to be interesting.

Cognostic's picture
PDF: https://static1
Cognostic's picture
Just finished the book. It's

Just finished the book. It's not so much about the Gnostic Gospels as it is about the politics and culture of early Gnosticism. Random quotes from Gnostic sources appear throughout her book to prove political points and social movements. The book points out the rise of Pauline Christianity to power and its opposition by the Gnostics. It's a worth while read but it is not as much about Gnostic texts as it is about early gnostics and their opposition to Pauline Christianity. It's worth a read.

XaurreauX's picture
I read and enjoyed the book

I read and enjoyed the book The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels and was discussing it earlier today at the 2019 American Atheists Convention in Cincinnati. I highly recommend it.

KagawaMark's picture
I too have read the book, and

I too have read the book, and I like Pagels as a writer. Highly intelligent and great style.

boomer47's picture
Haven't read he Gnostic

Haven't read more than a few bits of the Gnostic gospels.,and that was years ago. Not surprised at the content The extant writings collectively called The Christian Apocrypha contains some pretty weird shit. . However, I would be most surprised if such gospels had anything to do with the person or life of Jesus, as with the official canon.

The Christian Canon was pretty much decided by one man, Bishop Athanasius of Alexandria. It was adopted as [the only] holy writ during the First Nicene council (325ce)) ,which was convened by the emperor Constantine. They also discussed the Arian 'heresy" .The reason had nothing to do with having an homogeneous faith, and everything to do with politics and power. The main aim was to make Rome rather than Constantinople the centre of Christendom. Worked too.

Before that time, most Christian churches had their own canon, many were a long way from Athanasus' list.. This was the time in which the church granted itself the power to decide what was and was not holy [revealed] writ . ---I've always wanted to know how anyone could claim Book Of Revelations is revealed truth. As far I'm aware ,to this day, catholics are embarrassed by its inclusion in the Canon, and try to pretend it's not there. I've aways thought its writers (plural) had either taken some magic mushrooms or were the victims of ergot poisoning.

Among the Nag Hammadi texts is the Gospel Of Thomas .It is mainly alleged saying of Jesus. However, quite a few of them are not included in the New Testament. ---so obviously, they are not authentic revealed texts .The Catholic church and some (not all) protestant Churches dismissed the Gospel of Thomas out of hand.

Addendum: Had never heard of Elaine Pagels, so I looked her up. Seems she is a highly qualified religious scholar at Princeton, with an impeccable reputation. I'll see if can get hold of her book.

Old man shouts at clouds's picture
@ Cranky

@ Cranky

I'll see if can get hold of her book.

MIght be an idea to do that before commenting ...............

boomer47's picture
@old man shouts

@old man shouts


Am I factually incorrect?

Is this book going to contradict decades of comparatives religious studies? Should that occur am I obliged to simply accept her findings? I might accept it as a primary source, but will certainly look for confirmation which contradicts any present position or opinion I hold, I hope I can simply read it with an open mind, without being second guessed before I start .

PS I have obtained a copy in ebook format; haven't loaded it onto my tablet yet .

Cognostic's picture
@Cranky: I think you took

@Cranky: I think you took the comment wrong. I think Old Man was saying that he was going to read more before commenting. I read your comments and they seem spot on with the teachings of Erhman, Carrier, and Pagels among others.

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