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The Wisdom Jesus: Transforming Heart and Mind

4.28 of 5 stars 4.28  ·  rating details  ·  554 ratings  ·  60 reviews
If you put aside what you think you know about Jesus and approach the Gospels as though for the first time, something remarkable happens: Jesus emerges as a teacher of the transformation of consciousness. Cynthia Bourgeault is a masterful guide to Jesus's vision and to the traditional contemplative practices you can use to experience the heart of his teachings for yourself ...more
Paperback, 237 pages
Published August 12th 2008 by Shambhala Publications (Boston/London) (first published 2008)
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Eleanor Stoneham
What is wrong with modern Christianity? Did Christianity get off on the wrong foot almost from its inception? That is the thesis of this thought provoking and challenging book, a fascinating new take on the Jesus Christ we thought we were familiar with.

The starting point of the book is the Gospel of Thomas, restored to us when it was found among the Nag Hammadi scrolls in the Egyptian desert in 1945. These scrolls date back to early Christianity, being at least as old as the four canonical gospe
Wisdom is not what you believe about Jesus or even what know about him. Wisdom is when you encounter him, recognize him, and enter the mind of Christ.

Bourgeault, an Episcopal priest, goes through familiar canonical gospel material, the beatitudes and hard parables, and the “Gnostic” gospel of Thomas to explicate how Jesus asks us to free ourselves from our primitive selfish nature and by emptying the self make room for the divine. It is the path of kenosis, the path of self-emptying love.

The notional concept behind this book is one with which I largely agree: namely, that Jesus was a teacher of the wisdom tradition. His heavy reliance upon parables and the mystic quality of many of his pronouncements bear witness to this, and the rich history of wisdom teachers in that age makes this a perfectly reasonable and rational assumption.

Where I strongly disagree with Bourgeault, however, is in her casual dismissal of canonical scripture, her elevation of the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas ab
JoAnn   W.
I found this a very heavy book that takes a lot of concentration, mainly for me because there was so much brand new material in it. The author, an Episcopal priest and mystic, knows her subjects and has a fine intellect, so is not just a "touchy-feely" New Ager.

She uses the latest discovered, ancient texts, the history of Christian mysticism, recent psychological theory and Eastern thought to promote her hypothesis and make her case.

To me this is a book that needs to be read more than once for t
Matthew Hundley
I like to challenge myself to read books about Jesus that don't necessarily fit with my beliefs. There are points in The Wisdom Jesus, such as Bourgeault's explication of the beatitudes which was brilliant. But most of the time her "all roads" and "zen" laden conversation about Christ got a bit too off the narrow least for me.
Mixed feelings about this one. I almost gave it a three, but I did appreciate a lot of what she's trying to do--re-imagine Christianity in light of the Nag Hammadi scriptures. Christianity, as traditionally imagined in the Western mind, is in trouble. Bourgeault is attempting to bring us back to these early texts that were only recently discovered and even more recently researched by scholars. They indicate a much more mystical understanding of the faith--one that appeals to me greatly. But she ...more
Kathleen Dixon
Sep 30, 2010 Kathleen Dixon rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Kathleen by: Anne Moller
As I've written in each of my progress updates, I've really enjoyed this book, and there are insights from ehre that I will be able to use in worship and with study groups.

I'll just note a little from the last chapter:
p.186 {quoting from Gurdjieff, with regards to The Last Supper] Jesus .. opened up a classic "subtle body" channel between himself and them, using bread and wine as the specific vehicles of his presence.
.. the bread and wine became an instantiation, "a specific instance," of his ow
I read this last week with a dear friend. Its reading made a mini retreat for bothh of us.

The author is an Episcopal Priest. The basis of her book is Kenoia (being in the mind and heart of Jesus) as opposed to the duality and conflict,dogmatism and doctrinal teaching (some of which are not really doctrine) that most of us have grown up with in our religious training.

Each chapter presents very thoughtful insight (I will read the book again) enough to munch on and meditate upon.

Ms. Bourgeault use
I absolutely loved this book. Cynthia Bourgeault has incredible insight into the deep meanings of Jesus' teachings that go far beyond the literal (and superficial, in my opinion) interpretations of his teachings. She is an Episcopal priest who has a deep intimate relationship with her spirituality which is not limited by concepts and dogma. After reading this book, I became increasingly interested in the Gospel of Thomas (which she quotes quite often). I feel like I have been renewed to the wisd ...more
Debora Smith
This is a remarkable book which changes and enhances what you were ever taught about Jesus and Christianity. Jesus did not come to start a church - he came to share his wisdom via a path of inner transformation. Who knew the "New Age" started so long ago!? Challenging and transformative - seeing the Kingdom of Heaven as a state of consciousness....shifting our perception from our minds to our hearts. The end of the book describes Christian Wisdom Practices: centering prayer meditation, sacred re ...more
Interesting read. Some of it had a somewhat New Agey feel, but that is probably because it was just a different angle on some of the ideas that are presented. I'm not saying that is a bad thing, just a little different than I'm used to, even when it comes to the mystic ideas.

I really liked her take on the Eucharist: I won't give details, but I will say it breathed fresh life into the idea for me, and it concerns the relationship idea.

If you are interested in the Wisdom and/or mystic side of Chr
I reluctantly accepted the loan of this book from a friend who inscribed it, "Please return this to me so I can share it with others." Now I know why. I am getting my own copy, and giving copies to my meditation group. Cynthia's intellect and insight have "saved" Christianity for me. One of the reviews said it so well, "Cynthia Bourgeault needs to be read by everyone trying to make sense of a Christianity that has been tainted over the centuries. She returns us home. Her wisdom gives me great ho ...more
Jean Doane
This will be the text for an online course I will be taking beginning September 15. The instructor is the author, Cynthia Bourgeault. I am looking forward to reading it again at a slower pace and savoring it. I hope to incorporate the practice of centering prayer as part of my daily routine. That is an audacious goal. Even if I do not attain it, I will gain from encountering this expansive understanding of Jesus and his teachings.
Cynthia is a gift and one of the few modern theologians - that I have read - who can bring Christ and his teachings to life and relevance 2,000 years later. I thank her for continuing to breath fresh air into the life of Jesus and revive the true mysticism of his teachings and his ways. There is no forcing of belief with this work...rather a presentation that captures the soul's own yearning to believe and entices the relief of surrender.
Jean Marie Angelo
This is a thoughtful and scholarly theory about Jesus and his teachings. It provides answers and perspective to someone like me — a follower of Jesus who has always felt that there was more to his ministry and mission than what was written in the scripture stories that became the New Testament. Especially helpful was the review of the Christian wisdom practices: centering prayer; lectio divina; Tazie chant; welcome; and Eucharist.
I didn't consider myself Christian when starting this book. I heard a talk of Cynthia's that made me want to carry on the conversation. I loved this book. There's so much that I need to re-read to understand more fully and I know this has that internal kernel of truth which excites and inspires me. Ultimately it is the idea of oneness with the creator which has jump started me down a new and lovely path. Thank you Cynthia .
Peggy Lo
I really enjoyed her different perspective on Jesus and his message. To borrow a cooking term, it's like fusion. But at the same time she's trying to look back and look what Jesus originally taught. In some ways it's similar to Richard Rohr's the Naked Now but more personal in tone and she walks through several suggested practices at the end.
Scott Beddingfield
Outstanding new look at Christ. Helpful to me in both my practice but also with scripture interpretation (especially Gospel)Interesting take on Paul and the Christian Church. Bonus chapter with practical suggestions for Centering Prayer/meditation that in some ways seemed more helpful than her "Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening."
Nathan Lamb
This book was one of the assigned books for my first year of PrairieFire. Learning about the wisdom tradition has been greatly beneficial to my spirtuality and practice. However, this book represents what ate in my mind the fears I'd had about spirituality literature. First of all as a former theological student I had a hard time getting past her shabby historical work. Her emphasis on the gospel of Thomas as a theological source was fine, but not her repeated insistence that it represented the ...more
A refreshing way of looking at the person of Christ, and his ability to transform through his teachings. If more Christians would follow Bourgeault's interpretations people would be flocking to this faith.
This has got to be the most mind blowing book on Jesus I've ever read; I took notes and go back to them frequently. I want to memorize them!
This book completely shifted my understanding of Christianity and Jesus. Powerful.
Kim Owens
This was a life changer for me. Love this book.
Feb 16, 2010 Cjqviola is currently reading it
Darlene Hull
I wasn't really sure where this one was going to take me when I started reading it, and was delightfully surprised at the journey. This presents Jesus as a teacher in the Wisdom Tradition, and it's quite surprising to see how that makes sense and brings a greater richness to our faith. Loved it.
Gordon Howard
The book starts with a basic premise that the way we think about Jesus needs to be transformed, but then becomes disjointed in discussion of, first, how to interpret the major events in Jesus' life, and then different methods to bring Christianity into our own lives.
I lover her premise about Jesus and Christianity--I just don't care for her "orthodoxy," albeit her own orthodoxy. For example, in discussing the welcoming practice, she says, "I would like to explore a practice which, when used consistently and alertly, will allow us to do exactly that: to 'put on the mind of Christ' . . . . I don't care for her that kind of "this way or the highway" thinking.

I also found her constant referrals to her own books annoying.

That all said, I love her discussion of E
Very good, thought provoking book!
Tim Williams
I read this book with a book study group at my new church. I found it challenging in its mystical arguments (and some corresponding jargon) but also helpful in its explanation of "wisdom practices." I have a LONG way to go to sit still and center myself, but this book has helped me see that I might be up for the journey. I should also admit that I found the final chapter (on the Eucharist) at once subtle and mind-blowing.
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“As we enter the path of transformation, the most valuable thing we have working in our favor is our yearning.” 8 likes
“Kingdom of Heaven is really a metaphor for a state of consciousness.” 4 likes
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