Winner of the 1979 National Book Critics Circle Award
Synopses & Reviews
The Gnostic Gospels provides engaging listening for those seeking a broader perspective on the early development of Christianity. Author and noted scholar Elaine Pagels suggests that Christianity could have developed quite differently if Gnostic texts had become part of the Christian canon. Without a doubt: Gnosticism celebrates God as both Mother and Father, shows a very human Jesus's relationship to Mary Magdalene, suggests the Resurrection is better understood symbolically, and speaks to self-knowledge as the route to union with God. Pagels argues that Christian orthodoxy grew out of the political considerations of the day, serving to legitimize and consolidate early church leadership. Her contrast of that developing orthodoxy with Gnostic teachings presents an intriguing trajectory on a world faith as it "might have become."
"[A]n effective introduction to the difficult, almost oxymoronic notion of a Christian Gnosticism. [Professor Pagels] is always readable, always deeply informed, always richly suggestive of pathways her readers may wish to follow out for themselves." Harold Bloom
"The first major and eminently readable book on gnosticism benefiting from the discovery in 1945 of a collection of Gnostic Christian texts at Nag Hammadi in Egypt." The New York Times Book Review
A provocative study of the gnostic gospels and the world of early Christianity as revealed through the Nag Hammadi texts.
From the Trade Paperback edition.