Jun 15, Frank Kermode reviews book Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas by Elaine Pagels; drawing (M). 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. Jun 24, One person’s hagiography is another’s heresy, observes biblical scholar Pagels, though that hasn’t stopped generations of Christians from.

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Pagels’ study of the Nag Hammadi manuscripts was the basis for The Gnostic Gospelsa popular introduction to the Nag Hammadi library. For me, Pagel’s book gives me one more beyonnd reason to think I made the right move in leaving orthodox Christianity if only because I no longer have to constrain my spiritual imagination to the rigid boundaries of orthodox dogma.

I also learned a lot about Constantine, Nicaean Creed, and the origination of the New Testament canon. I’m open to finding new truths and new Gospel accounts from the 20th Century’s discovered texts, but Elaine Pagels does something much The only things I didn’t like about this book were the subtitle and the attached Gospel of Thomas itself. The book compares the outlook of e,aine apostle Thomas with the writings that became the book of John.

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 beyyond 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 ].

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Thomas Paagels, the twentieth century writer and Trappist monk, agreed with Tolstoy but interpreted his kingdom mystically rather then practically. The most important of these would seem to be, first, that what the Christ was we can be and, second, that there are many paths to such realization.


Beyond Belief

Pagels keeps things moving, keeps it very accessible. No trivia or quizzes yet. Having studied him myself rather intensively, I would only fault her for failing to emphasize how personal much of his invective is and for failing to note the irony of some this supposedly orthodox Father of the Church’s own beliefs, most particularly his claim that Jesus lived to a ripe old age. Based on your reading of Beyond Beliefhow should religious tradition and innovation be balanced?

Stay in Touch Sign up. Why were they suppressed? Learn More About Beyond Belief print. The book is erudite in scope, but I don’t think it would change an orthodox mind.

What elaone 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.

What do these passages add to the book? Jan 28, Mark rated it liked it. According to Pagels, John is the only evangelist who actually states that Jesus is God incarnated.

While it’s subtitle is the Secret Gospel of Thomas and the text of the complete Gospel of Thomas pageld printed in the back, we found it to be more of a history of the development of the early Christian Church.

Beyond Belief by Elaine Pagels

I’d always been taught there was a difference between Matthew, Mark, and Luke as compared to John, but never before was the truth laid out so simply and so remarkably as Doctor Pagels did here. Two thousand years ago those arguing for one belief over another used the same beoief of persuasion that we see today. She points out the following passage as something Gnostics may have used to identify themselves.

Traditions embodied in Judaism and Christianity can powerfully affect us in heart, mind and spirit, inspire visions of a new society based on practising justice and love, even heal and transform us. Why does she end her book in this way?


Her final words are, “What I have come to love in the wealth of our religious traditions–and the communities that sustain them–is that they offer the testimony of innumerable peopleto spiritual discovery. This is what ultimately causes this book to fall short. It is an analysis of the Gospel of John, which apparently was written in response to the Gnostic text, the Gospel of Thomas.

Thomas asserts that there is a spark of divinity in all of us with the implication that there may by more than one road to God. I enjoyed Pagels’ guidance through the debate of the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th centuries regarding the life and teachings of Jesus.

But then again I dreamt last night that I was employed by the British Government to buy and sell warships to African heads of state, so your opinion may well be different view spoiler [ unless you were having the same dream, which would explain why I wasn’t able to sell any, not even to the one with really bad eyesight view spoiler [me and my dream are presuming that you’ve heard of how the UK government some years back managed to sell leaky submarines to the Canadians view spoiler [and to think a good chunk of the UK population believe that the country will thrive in a free trade environment hide spoiler ] hide spoiler ] hide spoiler ].

I used this for my MA thesis. We are also told about a bishop who held a contrary view, as did some other Christians at this time Arius.

Pagels beief 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. 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.

Inshe married Heinz R. This book might be her best.