The Gnostic Gospels

The Gnostic Gospels

The Gnostic Gospels is a landmark study of the long-buried roots of Christianity, a work of luminous scholarship and wide popular appeal. First published in 1979 to critical acclaim, winning the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award, The Gnostic Gospels has continued to grow in reputation and influence over the past two decades. It is now widely recognized as one of the most brilliant and accessible histories of early Christian spirituality published in our time.

In 1945 an Egyptian peasant unearthed what proved to be the Gnostic Gospels, thirteen papyrus volumes that expounded a radically different view of the life and teachings of Jesus Christ from that of the New Testament. In this spellbinding book, renowned religious scholar Elaine Pagels elucidates the mysteries and meanings of these sacred texts both in the world of the first Christians and in the context of Christianity today.

With insight and passion, Pagels explores a remarkable range of recently discovered gospels, including the Gospel of Thomas and the Gospel of Mary Magdalene, to show how a variety of “Christianities” emerged at a time of extraordinary spiritual upheaval. Some Christians questioned the need for clergy and church doctrine, and taught that the divine could be discovered through spiritual search. Many others, like Buddhists and Hindus, sought enlightenment — and access to God — within. Such explorations raised questions: Was the resurrection to be understood symbolically and not literally? Was God to be envisioned only in masculine form, or feminine as well? Was martyrdom a necessary — or worthy — expression of faith? These early Christians dared to ask questions that orthodox Christians later suppressed — and their explorations led to profoundly different visions of Jesus and his message.

Brilliant, provocative, and stunning in its implications, The Gnostic Gospels is a radical, eloquent reconsideration of the origins of the Christian faith.

Title:The Gnostic Gospels
Edition Language:English
ISBN:9780679724537
Format Type:

    The Gnostic Gospels Reviews

  • WILLIAM2

    The apocryphal gospels, discovered by a farmer in 1945 at Nag Hammadi in Upper Egypt, are here explained in the context of late second-century RC church history. Gnostic (gnosis, Gk: knowledge) Christ...

  • BlackOxford

    The Power of Religious Imagination The central paradox of the religious imagination is its perennial attempt to constrain religious imagination. Elaine Pagels’s analysis of the so-called gnostic sc...

  • Dan Schwent

    As someone who was subjected to Catholic school for 12 years, I've always been somewhat interested in all the Gnostic texts that didn't get included in the bible. So when I saw this on my girlfriend's...

  • Eva

    This book is a classic. It describes, catalogues, quotes, and interprets portions of the secret gnostic gospels which were ordered destroyed in the 4th century after Christ. How, then, did we gain acc...

  • Erik Graff

    For over four years I occupied one of the cheapest singles in Union Theological Seminary's Hastings Hall. The room had been used for guests and, so, was larger than any other single, a wall having bee...

  • Fredstrong

    The Nag Hammadi texts, containing the Gnostic Gospels, were found in Egypt in 1945. These codices were compiled in the 4th century AD, but the gospels themselves date to the 2nd century AD. The Gnosti...

  • Jan

    Not surprising, a couple hundred years after the death of Christ there were different interpretations on what his life meant and what his essential message was. Christianity was becoming a hierarchica...

  • Katie

    This is a really fascinating book, and a great introduction to Gnosticism. It's learned, it places theological ideas in a socio-political context, and it's enjoyable to read. Pagel's biggest success i...

  • Mackey

    The Gnostic Gospels is a well written, thoroughly researched book on the gospels that were purposefully not included in what is now known as the "Christian Bible." These include the famous scrolls fou...

  • Miles Zarathustra

    If you're gullible enough to buy the idea that the Bible is infallible, this book is not for you.If you're feeling like there has got to be more to the story that what you are told, this book is an wo...