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The Gnostic Gospels (1979)

von Elaine Pagels

Weitere Autoren: Siehe Abschnitt Weitere Autoren.

MitgliederRezensionenBeliebtheitDurchschnittliche BewertungDiskussionen / Diskussionen
4,385422,051 (3.89)1 / 63
"A startling account of the meaning of Jesus and the origin of Christianity based on gnostic gospels and other secret texts, written almost 2,000 years ago, recently discovered near Nag Hammadi in Upper Egypt"--Jacket subtitle.
  1. 30
    The Essential Gnostic Gospels: Including the Gospel of Thomas & the Gospel of Mary von Alan Jacobs (riverwillow)
  2. 20
    Gnosis: Die Botschaft des fremden Gottes (Verlag der Weltreligionen Taschenbuch) von Hans Jonas (haven1)
  3. 10
    Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew von Bart D. Ehrman (Panairjdde)
    Panairjdde: This is actually a recommendation by Elaine Pagels herself, written inside her book Beyond Belief
  4. 10
    Secret Gospels: Essays on Thomas and the Secret Gospel of Mark von Marvin W. Meyer (Panairjdde)
    Panairjdde: This is actually a recommendation by Elaine Pagels herself, written inside her book Beyond Belief
  5. 00
    The Gospel of Thomas (New Testament Readings) von Richard Valantasis (Panairjdde)
    Panairjdde: This is actually a recommendation by Elaine Pagels herself, written inside her book Beyond Belief
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» Siehe auch 63 Erwähnungen/Diskussionen

In 1952 nr Nag Hammadi in the upper Egyptian desert, 52 papyrus texts were discovered in an ancient earthenware jar. including gospels and other secret writings dating back some 2000 years to the beginning of the Christian era. After years of scholarly investigation and analysis, the Nag Hammadi texts have turned out to be among the most important archaeological discoveries of modern times. Professor Pagels’ book is the first account written for the general reader about these profoundly revealing documents.
The so-called gnostic writings describe many of the people and events found in the New Testament, but from a strikingly different perspective. They show us that the early church, far from being unified was from the beginning deeply split: that many followers of Christ disagreed on the key points of his life, the meaning of his teachings, or the form that the church should take. Many gnostic groups challenged priestly authority and believed instead in the presence of the divine within the human; that the way to salvation was through self-knowledge. Many of the gnostic groups believed in a God who is both Father and Mother, and that women and men are spiritual equals.
In this brilliantly lucid account, we discover why the orthodox church chose to suppress these gnostic texts and why the gnostics themselves were condemned as heretics as early as the first century. Pagels shows us how these extraordinary texts compel us to reconsider profoundly the traditional view of the origins and meaning of Christianity ( )
  ExeterQuakers | May 31, 2021 |
This was a really informative look at the early days of Christianity. The Gnostic teachings were similar to Buddhist teachings, in that they felt that the divine was within each individual, and could only be reached by contemplation and the unwritten teachings of a mentor or teacher. During the early stages of a religion, this does not lend itself well to becoming a mass phenomenon, which in turn leads to the formation of most Christian churches as we know them today. As Pagels states, "the religious perspectives and methods of gnosticism did not lend themselves to mass religion. In this respect, it was no match for the highly effective system of organization of the catholic church."

Really interesting book for those interested in the beginnings of the Christian church, or anyone interested in the formation of any religion in general. ( )
  evenlake | Mar 23, 2021 |
A very interesting read. Though the information is somewhat dated now, this work sheds light on the diversity found in the early christian community based on translations of texts found at Nag-Hammadi, Egypt and other places. The early gospels reveal a wide range of beliefs that only distill later into the councils and creeds of orthodoxy. More on this in her "The Gospel of Thomas". ( )
  wickenden | Mar 8, 2021 |
Reprinted 1979.
  PAFM | Oct 19, 2019 |
Pagels's scholarship is always interesting, and must have benefited greatly from the publication of the Da Vinci Code. The book is excellent, it is essentially Pagel's academic work reworked for a popular audience, something I appreciate. I generally recommend her work, which is not without controversy.

Pagels writes about the gnostic gospels, of which a collection of writings was discovered in Egypt around the 1940s. Interestingly, the gnostic "heresy" has been historically mentioned by the early church fathers, who criticized the heterodox movement. However, until the discovery at Nag Hammadi, historians read about the gnostics mostly through the lense of orthodox Christian criticism.

Pagels notes that the gnostic movement was widely diverse, which makes questions about its origins and influences somewhat a historical impossibility. Pagels does tantalizingly mention scholars who think the origin of gnostics range from Buddhism, Zoroastrianism to mystic Judaism. Pagels focuses on the Christian gnostics mostly, writing both about their early critics and explaining the beliefs scholars have discovered from the Nag Hammadi texts.

In one word, Pagels looks at the gnostic movement through the perspective of politics. Pagels notes that the gnostics themselves looked at the canonical new testament to provide basis for their beliefs (along with additional secret gospels the gnostics claim to have exclusive access to) and drew on orthodox materials to arrive at their doctrine. However, the implications of their beliefs had incredibly important political ramifications and explains the ultimate failure of the movement despite some appealing aspects of their doctrine. For example, the gnostics challenged the resurrection of the body of Christ, arguing that his spirit or some spiritual form was resurrected. Pagels notes that the implications of this belief was a challenge to the authority of the orthodox church, which rested its authority on apostolic succession from those who witnessed the bodily resurrection. Additionally, some gnostics believed that the creator, was not actually truly God, but the demiurge, a lesser spirit which claimed to be the sole creator to the detriment of the true God. Pagels notes that this had major implications for the authority of the bishops, which rested its authority on an analogy to one master God, one bishop. Somewhat more radically, some gnostic sects believed that God has a feminine in addition to a masculine nature, with some sects believing the Holy Spirit was feminine. This had implications for the participation of women in church services, and some gnostic sects allowed women to perform priestly functions. Some gnostics believed that Christ had not actually died on the cross, but it was some illusion. This had implications about gnostic attitudes towards martyrdom. While early christians celebrated martyrdom as a replication of the passion of Christ, and martyrdom drew together christian communities, the gnostics had a more ambivalent attitude towards martyrs, a fact noted by their critics.

Both the early orthodox church and the various gnostic sects condemned each other as heretics or misguided. This is part of Pagel's broader thesis that early christianity is more heterogeneous and diverse than previously thought. Ultimately, according to Pagels, gnosticism could not survive because of its inherent political limitations. While the orthodox church started to organize politically, and find consistent rituals and doctrine to become a universally appealing church, gnosticism focused inward. Gnostics believed that self-knowledge or gnosis, and turning inward as the only way to reach the divine. The gnostics focused on meditation and visions for the chosen few who would discover on their own way to contemplate the divine spark within. The gnostics rejected objective rites or doctrine that lead automatically to salvation, rejecting the idea that the divine could be taught by anyone. Ultimately Pagels noted, it was not only the ideas of the orthodox that prevailed but because of its superior political and social organization.

This argument is not unlike the view of critical legal studies and the conflict thesis. Critical legal studies claims that doctrinal conflict leads to various acceptable doctrinal answers but it is another extra-legal force that chose the outcome. Similarly, Pagels argues that some of the new testament lent itself to different fair interpretations since sections are contradictory or ambiguous. Pagels notes that it was not just the doctrine that prevailed but the political and social advantages of orthodox christianity.

While Pagels claims that she is simply describing the gnostics without normative elements, the tone of the book suggests that she approves of some of the messages and views of the gnostic movement. In a sense, Pagels portrays them as ascetic individualists, who were spiritually self-aware and critical of hierarchy. It is also interesting that the gnostic-orthodox debates preempt certain theological debates that would occur later and even in the current day. Regardless of one's views on this early heterodox sect, one's understanding of the ancient and awesome institution that is the christian faith will be enriched by Pagel's work. ( )
1 abstimmen vhl219 | Jun 1, 2019 |
keine Rezensionen | Rezension hinzufügen

» Andere Autoren hinzufügen (8 möglich)

AutorennameRolleArt des AutorsWerk?Status
Elaine PagelsHauptautoralle Ausgabenberechnet
Bergane, TorbjørnÜbersetzerCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
Holbein, JohanUmschlagillustrationCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
Lehtipuu, OutiÜbersetzerCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
Quispel, GillesVorwortCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
Tran, DavidUmschlaggestalterCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
Verseput, E.ÜbersetzerCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
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In December 1945 an Arab peasant made an astonishing archeological discovery in Upper Egypt.
"Jesus Christ rose from the grave."
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Please do not combine Elaine Pagels' The Gnostic Gospels (in Italian, I vangeli gnostici) with Luigi Moraldi's I vangeli gnostici. Vangeli di Tomaso, Maria, Verità, Filippo (ISBN 8845910091). Thank you.
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"A startling account of the meaning of Jesus and the origin of Christianity based on gnostic gospels and other secret texts, written almost 2,000 years ago, recently discovered near Nag Hammadi in Upper Egypt"--Jacket subtitle.

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