A review of Elaine Pagel’s book. Beyond Belief, published in by Random House, is a sort of sequel to The Secret Gospels, in that it incorporates the new. Frank Kermode reviews book Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas by Elaine Pagels; drawing (M). Beyond Belief has ratings and reviews. Jan-Maat said: Long ago but not so far way I bought this book for my father, who was interested in readi.

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View all 20 comments. Gnosticism is a very specific belief system eblief contains mystical elements, but which was declared heretical by Irenaeus in the second century. As it happened, she was considerate enough to allow me to supplement the course work with a review of all of the patristic testamony through the fourth century and an encyclopedic thesis covering this material entitled “On the Procession of the Heresiarchs of Gnosis.

Rather than promoting Jesus as the only light of the world, Thomas taught individuals bdyond “there is a light within each person, and it lights up the whole universe. Athanasius had been the most persistent champion of the kind of theology that is now enshrined in wlaine Nicene Creed, which states that Jesus Christ was begotten by God the Father before all worlds, and was God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God.

This phrase can pagelz extended to those people who continue to be seekers today. Pagels Random House- Religion – pages 20 Reviews https: The astonishing discovery of the Gospel of Thomas, along with more than fifty other early Christian texts unknown since antiquity, offers startling clues.

What are some of their destructive consequences? Beyond getting Christians to accept one immutable story and path to salvation, the orthodox leaders were trying to consolidate the religion in the interest of power and protection from outside forces. Pagels, a writer and thinker on religion and history, winner of the National Book Award for The Gnostic Gospelsreflects on what matters most about spiritual and religious exploration in the 21st century.


There was no salvation except through him.

As she elegantly contends, religion is not merely an assent to a set of beliefs, but a rich, multifaceted fabric of teachings and experiences that connect us with the divine.

I enjoyed Pagels’ guidance through the debate of the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th centuries regarding the life and teachings of Jesus.

In the spring of the yearthe Bishop of Alexandria in Egypt wrote a famous letter to his pagfls.

Scholars have dated Beljef to the same time frame as John, the latest youngest of the four Gospels. It is what scholars call a sayings gospel, a list of aphorisms attributed to Jesus.

Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas by Elaine Pagels

Rather than assuming that God’s mind was already known when the orthodox position was formulated and the canonical texts selected to support that position, Pagels makes the convincing argument that the “truth” was arbitrated and brokered according to the political and survival interests of the rlaine fathers, and that the re-emergence of elane apocryphal books should provoke a deep reconsideration of what it means to be a Christian as well as a non-Christian.

Pagels frames the story of the quashing of spiritual interpretations of the meaning of the ministry of Jesus view spoiler [I am picking my words with as much care as I can after a mere couple of glasses of an indifferent white wine, I know what Rabelais would advise me to do in this case hide spoiler ] in favour of an Orthodox and Catholic church by the time of Constantine with her experience as a mother living through the death of a son, attending church first in crisis, later with her daughter for a Christmas service.

E laine Pagels, professor of religion at Princeton University, became belieef — well, at least well known — with the publication of her book, The Gnostic Gospels, in It’s really less about the Gospel of Thomas and more about diversity and pabels within the early Christian movement.

First, The Pagfls of Thomas, a version of which was discovered in Egypt in Pagels reveals an astonishing expansion of the concept of Jesus from man to God over time.


Thomas asserts that there is a spark of divinity in all of us with the implication that there may by more than one road to God. Pagel cites Heracleon who describes the first group as perceiving God as a strict, limited, but well-meaning master and father, who has decreed elaune death penalty for every one of his children who sins and yet loves them and grieves when they perish.

Studying early writings helped her see that there was a wide diversity of interpretations in the years following Christ’s death, and the creeds and beliefs statement culminating in the canonization of the books to appear in the Bible during the time of Constantine were a desperate effort to protect the “true faith” from the many groups with what seemed like strange and dangerous interpretations.

Apr 06, Charlotte rated it liked it Shelves: How might Christianity be different today if Thomas had been included in the New Testament? Velief not only Pagels says so.

That said, I was troubled by Pagels’ tendency to equate mysticism and ellaine, and I think this is problematic to her argument. A collection elaiine the sayings of Jesus, some have attempted to relate it to the long hypothesized Q, or “source”, behind the canonical gospel sayings.

Beyond Belief Reader’s Guide

Nonetheless, I enjoy being reminded that orthodox Christianity as it exists today was not the only way that Christianity was understood to the first Christians. Beyond Belief has been a formative book for me. The hows and the whys are tempting to speculate about, but we don’t know much about the winning side, and what we know about the loosing side almost entirely comes from what the winners choose to say about them. Jesus said, “Blessed is the lion which becomes man when consumed by man; and cursed is the man whom the lion consumes, and the lion becomes man.