Customer Reviews for

The Gnostic Gospels

Average Rating 3.5
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

10 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

A great read

Most of the reviews for this claim that this book as well as other Gnostic writings are inaccurate because the bible which is 'truthful' says something different. Don't believe them, Gnostics were not pagans, they were a sect of christians that had a different interpret...
Most of the reviews for this claim that this book as well as other Gnostic writings are inaccurate because the bible which is 'truthful' says something different. Don't believe them, Gnostics were not pagans, they were a sect of christians that had a different interpretation of Christ and who were declared evil by the early church for it. If you want to get a different perspective don't blindly follow, read, learn, think for yourself.

posted by Anonymous on June 8, 2006

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Most Helpful Critical Review

9 out of 29 people found this review helpful.

The Resurrection and the New Testament

The Gnostic Gospels is mainly a summary of what the gnostics believed about various subjects, such as the resurrection of Jesus, salvation, martyrdom, and spiritual maturity. Throughout the book Pagels compares the gnostics with ¿the orthodox,¿ whom she interprets as th...
The Gnostic Gospels is mainly a summary of what the gnostics believed about various subjects, such as the resurrection of Jesus, salvation, martyrdom, and spiritual maturity. Throughout the book Pagels compares the gnostics with ¿the orthodox,¿ whom she interprets as the catholic church in the late first and early second century. Pagels is well informed on the topic and an engaging writer. However, while Pagels claims to be interested in Christianity and not promoting one view over the other (p.150-151), the focus of her book and her conclusions indicate otherwise. Though her analysis of the gnostics is thorough, there are some problems with her interpretations of the New Testament writers. Her treatment of the resurrection of Christ is most critical. She is right to acknowledge that Christianity considers this to be ¿one unique historical moment¿ (p.3). Yet she portrays the New Testament writers as giving different views of Jesus¿ resurrection. In her opinion, some insist on a bodily resurrection while others indicate a ¿spirit¿ resurrection. This is simply not the case. The gospels and Paul emphasize the bodily resurrection throughout their writings. According to Pagels, Mark and Luke report that Jesus appeared ¿in another form,¿ meaning something other than a human body. Luke 24:16 says that two disciples were kept from recognizing who Jesus was at first. But this does not prove that Jesus¿ appearance was something other than human, rather something was done to the disciples to keep them from truly seeing him. Later in the passage it says that ¿their eyes were opened and they recognized him¿ (24:31), not that Jesus¿ appearance changed. Only Mark uses the phrase ¿in another form¿ in a passage which does not appear in the earliest manuscripts. Mark 16:12-13 is a brief summary of the events Luke describes in more detail (Luke 24:13-35). Given these facts, it seems warranted to interpret Mark in light of Luke and not the other way around. She also uses the incident with Mary in John 20:11-17 as another example of a gospel writer describing something other than a bodily resurrection. Pagels states that Jesus commanded Mary not to touch him. However, the Revised Standard Version (which Pagels uses) does not say this. Jesus actually says, ¿Do not hold me,¿ (New Revised reads, ¿Do not hold on to me¿). She was clinging to him and Jesus was telling her to let go because he wanted her to report to the other disciples. Other passages Pagels sites are the two accounts of Paul¿s conversion recorded by Luke (Acts 9:3-9 Acts 22:6-11). ¿One could suggest that certain people, in moments of great emotional stress, suddenly felt that they experienced Jesus¿ presence. Paul¿s experience can be read this way¿ (p.6). But this does not make any sense for Paul. He was not under ¿great emotional stress ¿ the Christians he was hunting down and persecuting were the ones under stress. Paul was imprisoning the people who believed Jesus was the Son of God, so he had no predisposition to have hallucinations of Jesus. Pagels notes the apparent contradiction in the two passages mentioned above in reporting the incident with Paul. However, in both reports the men with Paul did not see a person as Paul did. As far as the voice, Acts 9 says that they ¿heard the voice¿ and in Acts 22 Paul says they ¿did not hear the voice of the one speaking to me.¿ Acts 9 does not claim that they actually heard what was said to Paul, which is the point Paul is trying to make in Acts 22. Paul¿s companions heard and saw something indistinguishable, so they were not able to give testimony as to what or who it was. Paul¿s dramatic life change is best explained by the fact that he did encounter someone on the road to Damascus. Would Paul, a learned Jewish leader, be willing to be persecuted, imprisoned, ostracized, and executed for something he hallucinated or for a feeling of Jesus¿ presence? Finally, Pagels¿ treatment of Paul¿s writings on the resurrection gre

posted by Anonymous on September 9, 2006

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 9, 2006

    The Resurrection and the New Testament

    The Gnostic Gospels is mainly a summary of what the gnostics believed about various subjects, such as the resurrection of Jesus, salvation, martyrdom, and spiritual maturity. Throughout the book Pagels compares the gnostics with ¿the orthodox,¿ whom she interprets as the catholic church in the late first and early second century. Pagels is well informed on the topic and an engaging writer. However, while Pagels claims to be interested in Christianity and not promoting one view over the other (p.150-151), the focus of her book and her conclusions indicate otherwise. Though her analysis of the gnostics is thorough, there are some problems with her interpretations of the New Testament writers. Her treatment of the resurrection of Christ is most critical. She is right to acknowledge that Christianity considers this to be ¿one unique historical moment¿ (p.3). Yet she portrays the New Testament writers as giving different views of Jesus¿ resurrection. In her opinion, some insist on a bodily resurrection while others indicate a ¿spirit¿ resurrection. This is simply not the case. The gospels and Paul emphasize the bodily resurrection throughout their writings. According to Pagels, Mark and Luke report that Jesus appeared ¿in another form,¿ meaning something other than a human body. Luke 24:16 says that two disciples were kept from recognizing who Jesus was at first. But this does not prove that Jesus¿ appearance was something other than human, rather something was done to the disciples to keep them from truly seeing him. Later in the passage it says that ¿their eyes were opened and they recognized him¿ (24:31), not that Jesus¿ appearance changed. Only Mark uses the phrase ¿in another form¿ in a passage which does not appear in the earliest manuscripts. Mark 16:12-13 is a brief summary of the events Luke describes in more detail (Luke 24:13-35). Given these facts, it seems warranted to interpret Mark in light of Luke and not the other way around. She also uses the incident with Mary in John 20:11-17 as another example of a gospel writer describing something other than a bodily resurrection. Pagels states that Jesus commanded Mary not to touch him. However, the Revised Standard Version (which Pagels uses) does not say this. Jesus actually says, ¿Do not hold me,¿ (New Revised reads, ¿Do not hold on to me¿). She was clinging to him and Jesus was telling her to let go because he wanted her to report to the other disciples. Other passages Pagels sites are the two accounts of Paul¿s conversion recorded by Luke (Acts 9:3-9 Acts 22:6-11). ¿One could suggest that certain people, in moments of great emotional stress, suddenly felt that they experienced Jesus¿ presence. Paul¿s experience can be read this way¿ (p.6). But this does not make any sense for Paul. He was not under ¿great emotional stress ¿ the Christians he was hunting down and persecuting were the ones under stress. Paul was imprisoning the people who believed Jesus was the Son of God, so he had no predisposition to have hallucinations of Jesus. Pagels notes the apparent contradiction in the two passages mentioned above in reporting the incident with Paul. However, in both reports the men with Paul did not see a person as Paul did. As far as the voice, Acts 9 says that they ¿heard the voice¿ and in Acts 22 Paul says they ¿did not hear the voice of the one speaking to me.¿ Acts 9 does not claim that they actually heard what was said to Paul, which is the point Paul is trying to make in Acts 22. Paul¿s companions heard and saw something indistinguishable, so they were not able to give testimony as to what or who it was. Paul¿s dramatic life change is best explained by the fact that he did encounter someone on the road to Damascus. Would Paul, a learned Jewish leader, be willing to be persecuted, imprisoned, ostracized, and executed for something he hallucinated or for a feeling of Jesus¿ presence? Finally, Pagels¿ treatment of Paul¿s writings on the resurrection gre

    9 out of 29 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 18, 2006

    Be forwarned

    The value of this book from a cultural standpoint is outstanding, however, one should keep in mind that gnosticism, often refered to as part of the 'roots' of christianity, started off as a sect apart from the christians. It wasn't until later when a lot of christians decided to join the gnostic sect that it began to have a 'semblance' of christianity. The gnostic writings in of themselves are only valuble in providing us with what the gnostics believed, nothing of historic accuracy. They pretty much took existing christian writings and re-wrote them to fit in with gnostic views. Hence, if you want to learn about the history of early christianity, don't look here, it doesn't have it. Rather read The history of the Church by Euesibius, who actually wrote his history before the Catholic Church was even organized.

    5 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 18, 2006

    get the facts straight

    The Gnostic Gospels is certainly interesting, however they hardly have a direct effect on anyone today! The Bible itself is a book of FAITH ( I do not need to see to believe!) Lets get one historical fact correct. Luke WAS NOT an eyewitness, he interviewed others , then wrote his gospel, he was Greek, not Judean.

    1 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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