N.A. Ratnayake's Reviews > The Gnostic Gospels

The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels
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's review
Dec 22, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: philosophy-metaphysics
Read from December 22 to 23, 2010

A well-researched exploration of the differences between the original diversity of thought surrounding the teachings and sayings of Jesus, and what became the institution of mainline Christianity. I very much appreciated the author's care in investigating beyond just the differences between gnostic and catholic (in which I include post-Reformation Christianity, because in the broader sense of early Christian thought they really are not that different). She also details the political motivations for Rome and the early church in selecting which of the many gospels and writings on Jesus would make it into the official canon we now know as the New Testament.

The systematic (and unfortunately for posterity, highly effective) process of narrowing the canon down to those of most political advantage to the new Holy Roman Empire and then brutally eliminating all differing writings and their "heretic" authors, is re-enacted in these pages by Pagels' fine writing.

The ultimate result for me personally is to find new understanding and perspective on the New Testament as well as Jesus as a philosopher and prophet; taken in the broader context of the Gnostic writings which were removed by the Council of Nicea, much of what I find unpalatable and even abhorrent about the Institution of Christianity is mitigated and, in many cases, reversed. I came away feeling very excited to learn more about Gnosticism and how it's insights (and Christianity in general) can enhance my own personal brand of spirituality.

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