A review of Elaine Pagel’s book. Beyond Belief, published in by Random House, is a sort of sequel to The Secret Gospels, in that it incorporates the new. Frank Kermode reviews book Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas by Elaine Pagels; drawing (M). Beyond Belief has ratings and reviews. Jan-Maat said: Long ago but not so far way I bought this book for my father, who was interested in readi.

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There was not as much detail about the Gospel of Thomas as I had expected.

The Thomas Jesus is cryptic, demanding self-examination. I also learned a lot about Constantine, Nicaean Creed, and the origination of the New Testament canon. Slowly I learn the oddness of what had been taught to me in school as plain and uncontroversial.

This bold new book explores how Christianity began by tracing its earliest texts, including the secret Gospel of Thomas, rediscovered in Egypt in Reading these gospels closely, she shows that Thomas offered readers a message of spiritual enlightenment.

But that was a bit like getting your information on Senator Kerry from the Drudge Report. Pagels is a recognized scholar of religion, and the author of The Gnostic Gospels, among others.

Anyway, by Lent Athanasius felt confident enough to indulge in a bit of heretical book banning.

It’s really less about the Gospel of Thomas and more about diversity and meaning within the early Christian movement. That said, I was troubled by Pagels’ tendency to equate mysticism and gnosticism, and I think this is problematic to her argument.

While I enjoyed “Beyond Belief”, both the content and Dr. She doesn’t pxgels on the work of scholars who payels that the Gospel of John was originally written more sypathetically to the Gospel of Thomas, but that a later Redactor added the opening chapters and inserted additional material to change the perspective to refute Thomas.

Both follow a similar timeline – different from Matthew, Mark and Luke. If you do a thorough pgaels of the information you will see for yourself. Elaine Pagels step This book was used as a study book for a Tuesday morning discussion group. Rather than promoting Jesus as the only light of the world, Thomas taught individuals that “there is a light within each person, and it lights up the whole universe.


She also now sees now a swing back to the spiritual base, with less interest in creeds.

Beyond Belief by Elaine Pagels

May 04, Minutes Buy. Gods Word or Human Words? But events were to prove that not everyone was happy with the decree of Athanasius. Pagels book is a revelation itself in which Thomas shows us a Jesus not seen in the other gospels.

In other words, what the official Church tried to stamp out was experientially-based religion–precisely, though not explicitly stated, what led her to reconsider her own beliefs.

What the farmer found

The books were known only through quotations sprinkled through the writings of their theological enemies in the orthodox party. Exhilarating reading, Pagels’s book offers a model of careful and thoughtful scholarship in the lively and exciting prose of a good mystery writer.

While John hints of gnostic influence, it also finds itself in direct opposition to Thomas on many topics, such as the divinity of Christ. Why did Irenaeus and other early Christian theologians feel it was essential to unify Christian beliefs into a canon of orthodox teachings that all Christians must accept?

I have no doubts that Pagels has some merit of scholarship but I do not feel she’s above and beyond the many scholars who have looked and written about this issue extensively. Elaine is wonderful and I began enjoying her work as a student.

This is an endlessly brlief subject for me and I trust Pagels knowledge base and motives. Pagfls wasn’t much interested elanie the course topic, but I was interested in working under the author of The Johannine Gospel in Gnostic Exegesis, a book which had impressed me while working on my undergraduate thesis on the history During my studies at Union Theological Seminary in New York I became acquainted with Elaine Pagels, initially on a social level as one of my girlfriend’s favorite teachers at Barnard College, then as my own teacher for a course entitled “Creation Myths in Genesis” at Union.

The result is inspirational. The Gospel of Thomas was discovered with some other works hid away in a field in the town of Nag Hammadi in upper Egypt. Or again that there are two types of conversion experience She briefly comments on a handful of saying such as: That which you do not have within you will kill you if you do not have it within you.


Pagels is a well know Gnostic writer and this book is one of elainr better ones.

Beyond Belief

This book might be her best. Apr 06, Charlotte rated it liked it Shelves: However, those interested in exploring various aspects of spiritualty and perceptions of Jesus would probably find it interesting. Despite their similarities, John and Thomas point the secret teachings in sharply different directions. Or perhaps those who believed that at most only Jesus had at least some element of divinity in his nature view spoiler [and quite how much and in what way, were themselves to become hugely controversial issues hide spoiler ] and those who felt that everyone has sparks of the divine in them – this later was to become an important element in Jewish mystical tradition belieg spoiler [at times I elane if the Early Christian church might be most interesting for Jews curious about the archaeology of some of their traditions since there beljef to be a fair bit that isn’t attested in writing until centuries later in Jewish writings yet apparently was already current in the diversity of Christian belief in the first couple of centuries AD hide spoiler ].

Bwlief the time of persecution of Christians, the church fathers constructed the canon, creed and hierarchy, suppressing many of its spiritual resources in the process, in order to avoid conflict with Roman law and religion.

Also by Elaine Pagels. As always, the most ruthless win.