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.

Author: Dojas Tut
Country: China
Language: English (Spanish)
Genre: Business
Published (Last): 21 September 2004
Pages: 331
PDF File Size: 15.64 Mb
ePub File Size: 3.20 Mb
ISBN: 307-7-54264-669-4
Downloads: 91517
Price: Free* [*Free Regsitration Required]
Uploader: Kanris

Just a moment while we sign you in to your Goodreads account. Pagels remains a champion for truth and an asset to people who want to know it, painting a more complete picture of Jesus and the evolution of Christianity.

Why is this e,aine so important? View Full Version of PW. This was a rewarding read consisting of a combination of the author’s scholarly analysis of canonical, Gnostic, and other early Christian writings and her own personal spiritual and life experiences.

Beyond Belief by Elaine Pagels – Reading Guide – : Books

Elainf book compares the gospel of John with the gnostic gospel of Thomas. 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.

A nice dose of history and context of early Christianity. What it is not, is pages analysis of the Gospel of Thomas but it does elaborate on the argument in the first book about the role of the gospel of John in the struggle against Thomas-type mysticism.

What the farmer found

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 view spoiler [at times I wonder if the Early Christian church might be most interesting for Jews curious about the archaeology of some of their traditions since there seems 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 ].

Apr 25, Gail Holm rated it really liked it. How convincing is this reading? She compares such sources as Thomas’ gospel which claims to give Jesus’ secret teaching and finds its closest affinities with kabbalah with the canon to show how Christian leaders chose to include some gospels and exclude others from the collection many call the New Testament.


At the center of her book is the conflict between the gospels of John and Thomas. But events were to prove that not everyone was happy with the decree of Athanasius. At the time I was acquainted with her and Heinz, neither seemed particularly religious, but as the text indicates, these losses caused her to reconsider her position.

It’s really less about the Gospel of Thomas and more about diversity and meaning within the early Christian movement. Like some of Bart Ehrman’s books, Pagels deals extensively with conflicts among early Christian sects and how the Bible ended up being what it is today.

This book dissects and examines the history of that war and demonstrates how the results of this war shaped, and continues to shape, the C Yes, there is a discussion of the Gospel of Thomas; yes, there is a little about the author’s struggle to find her own faith; there’s even a compact overview of the first millenium of Christianity.

Some are not familiar but similar. How can the title be interpreted? That said, I was troubled by Pagels’ tendency to equate mysticism and gnosticism, and I think this is problematic to her argument.

What this book is concerned with page,s is the internecine war for dominance between the proponents of the Gospel of John and the proponents of every other Gospel. Slowly I learn the oddness of what had been taught to me in school as plain and uncontroversial. What bothers me is that Pagels creates this false dichotomy between orthodox doctrine and christian mysticism, without any mention of how these traditions intersect and complement each other within the orthodox faith.

Apr 06, Charlotte rated it liked it Shelves: This is the book that turned me on to Pagels’ scholarship, and I’ve felt a distant kinship ever since. Pagels puts forward to the reader that there were two types of believers in the early church, a distinction that reminded me of Karen Armstrong’s A History of God. May 04, Pages Buy. To do this Pagels assumes that the Gospel of John was written in response to the Gospel of Thomas, my concern here was that she advances no discussion of the possible date of composition for either, but at a pinch, reading, one can assume that the first was written, if not in response to the Gospel we can read at the end of this book ,then in general terms to beliefs that the author of John did not approve of view spoiler [ all of the Gospels are pseudonymous, nobody knows who actually wrote them.

Dec 07, Kathryn pagsls it really liked it Shelves: There Jesus treats us as equals, or at least as struggling siblings: So far, I think Pagels’ Gnostic Gospels was a better read.


The New Testament canon, along with the Nicene Creed, effectively excluded all mysticism from the psgels lowercase church, while instituting a Catholic uppercase doctrine of atonement and original sin.

Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas

Pagels feels that if the Gospel of Thomas were belier 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. The result is inspirational. During 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.

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, including what came to be known as the famous gnostic gospels.

I’m open to finding new truths and new Gospel accounts from the 20th Century’s discovered texts, but Elaine Pagels does something much more subversive–delightfully so!

More than the Gospel of Thomas is covered here. Studying early writings helped her see that there was a wide diversity of interpretations in the years following Christ’s death, and the creeds and beliefs statement culminating in the canonization of the books to appear in the Bible during the time of Constantine were a desperate effort to protect the “true faith” from the many groups with what seemed like strange and dangerous interpretations.

Can they coexist with canonical texts? According to Pagels, John is the only evangelist pgels actually states that Jesus is God incarnated. I am no scholar, nor am I well-educated on the finer points of Orthodox doctrine, but I do know that the Orthodox Church does not hold a doctrine of atonement or original sin in the same sense as the Roman Catholic churchbut does promote the concept of theosis, a mystical journey wherein man is ultimately joined to God, becoming divine elajne grace.

More By and About This Author. Aug 16, Erik Graff rated it really liked it Recommends it for: Epaine what ways has the triumph of John over Thomas shaped and limited Western Christianity? She admires the mystical generalities of the gnostics and is temperamentally allergic to the violent certainties of the winning side in Catholic Christianity. This particular title followed upon the deaths of her son, Mark and–unmentioned in it–husband, Heinz

Author: admin