BEYOND BELIEF: The Secret Gospel of Thomas. Elaine Pagels, Author. Random $ (p) ISBN More By and About This Author. Pagels, a writer and thinker on religion and history, winner of the National Book Award for The Gnostic Gospels, reflects on what matters most about spiritual and. In her latest best-selling book, Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas, Pagels argues that whoever wrote the Gospel of John clearly was.


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The alternative, for Heracleon, and I suspect for Pagels and for that matter Karen Armstrong is a conception of God as spiritual nourishment pp The story she tells in her book is that the first won out over the second. The hows and the whys are tempting to speculate about, but we don't know much about the winning side, and what we know about the loosing side almost elaine pagels gospel of thomas comes from what the winners choose to say about them.

Review: Beyond Belief by Elaine Pagels | Books | The Guardian

Luckily for us in the s an Egyptian uncovered a stash of writings deemed heretical by Athanasius - repeatedly bishop of Alexandria view spoiler [ apparently he was a controversial figure even in his own lifetime and was deposed and reinstated as Bishop as other people pack away and bring out their Christmas decorations elaine pagels gospel of thomas spoiler ] in the late fourth century and buried for safe keeping by Nag Hammadi.

One of those texts was the Gospel of Thomas. This reads as a stripped down version of the Gospel of Mark. Elaine pagels gospel of thomas has no stories, only sayings attributed to Jesus, most of which seem in comparison to the conventional Gospels very familiar.

What the farmer found

Some are not familiar but similar. A few are a little bit different. Not, I felt, different enough to sustain Pagels' argument, but then I am not a second or third century Bishop striving for order and to contain debate. With each subsequent book I read on faith, on the early Church, I imagine that I am a little like an exploratory spacecraft sent into orbit around a planet to build up velocity so I can fling myself sling-shot style further out in search of understanding.

Victors always rewrite history elaine pagels gospel of thomas scholars suspected that that's what had happened here. Elaine pagels gospel of thomas having the texts in question before them, however, they couldn't be sure what these so-called poisonous myths actually contained.

  • Beyond Belief by Elaine Pagels

Fast forward 1, years to December He is looking for a natural fertiliser to spread on his fields when he comes across an obviously ancient earthenware jar. When he and his brother break the jar open, they discover a cache of 13 leather bound codices, or papyrus books, containing more than 50 tractates, elaine pagels gospel of thomas what came to be known as the famous gnostic gospels.

Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas by Elaine Pagels

Elaine Pagels, professor of religion at Princeton University, has made the translation and interpretation of these texts her life's work. In her latest book she concentrates mainly on why the Gospel of John made it into elaine pagels gospel of thomas New Testament and the Gospel of Thomas didn't.

She argues persuasively that John was written as a direct attack on Thomas.

Thomas, one of the texts discovered at Nag Hammadi, is a collection of sayings of Jesus, with no narrative framework. It is what scholars call a sayings gospel, a list of aphorisms attributed to Jesus.

Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas

Pagels uses her analysis of John and Thomas to discuss elaine pagels gospel of thomas struggle that went on in early Christianity between those who believed that Jesus taught that the divine light was present in all people; and those who, like the author of John, claimed that Jesus had taught that humanity inhabited a profound spiritual darkness that only he could illuminate.

There was no salvation except through him.


In one of his commentaries on Elaine pagels gospel of thomas, Origen — a church father, c. When translated into English fifteen centuries later, these were elaine pagels gospel of thomas — a linguistic convention that does not occur in the original Greek.

Pagels feels that if the Gospel of Thomas were included in the New Testament instead of that of John, or even if it were included along with John, the development of Christianity would have been quite different.

Despite their similarities, John and Thomas point the secret teachings in sharply different directions. Thomas thus expresses what would become a central theme of Jewish, and later Christian, mysticism a thousand years later: At one point in her description of the dispute among the early Christians about who Jesus really was, Pagels quotes Mark: However, both John and Thomas say something different, the latter very specifically: Thomas Merton, the twentieth century writer and Trappist monk, agreed with Tolstoy but interpreted his kingdom mystically rather then practically.

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