Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas

Pagels, a riter and thinker on religion and history, winner of the National Book Award for The Gnostic Gospels, reflects on what matters most about spiritual and religious exploration in the 22n century. Th book examine how Christianity began by tracing its earliest texts, including the Gospel of Thomas, rediscovered in Egypt in 1945.

When her infant on was diagnosed with fatal pulmonary hypertension, Pagels' spiritual and intellectual quest took on a new urgency, leading her to explore historical and archaeological sources and to uncove what Jesus and his teachings meant to his followers before the invention of Christianity. The discovery of the Gospel of Thomas, along with more than 50 other early Christian texts, some unknown since antiquity, offers clues. She compares such sources as Thomas' gospel ( which claims to give Jesus' secret teaching and finds its closest affinities with kabbalah) with the canon to show how Christian leaders chose to include some gospels and exclude others from the collection many call the New Testament. To strengthe the emerging church in times of oppression, church fathers constructed the canon, creed and hierarchy- and, in process, suppressed many of its spiritual resources.

Drawing on new scholarship- her own and that of an international group of scholars- that has come to light since the 1979 publication of The Gnostic Gospels, she shows that what matters about Christianity involves much more than any one set of eliefs. Traditions embodied in Judaism and Christianity can powerfully affect us in heart, ind and spirit, inspire visions of a new society based on practising justice and love, even heal and transform us.

Provocative and moving, Beyond Belief, the most personal of her books to date, shows how the impulse to seek god overflows the narrow banks of a single tradition. She says, " What I have come to love in the wealth and diversity of our religious traditions- and the ommunities that sustain them- is that they offer the testimony of innumerable people to spiritual discovery, encouraging us, in Jesus' words, to 'seek, and you mus find.' "

From the feast of Agape to the Nicene Creed
Gospels in conflict: John and Thomas
God 's word or human words?
he canon of truth and the triumph of John
Constantine and the Catholic Church
Year of the Publication
Available Languages
Number of Pages
Original Title of the Book
Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas
Publication Date
Published May 6th 2003 by Random House (NYC) (first published January 1st 2003

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ocus on is the " lost " Gospel of Thomas, part of the Nag Hamadi library -- theory is that church leaders who came to power tried to destroy evidence of this report of Jesus' teachings that centered more on Gnostic and mystic spirituality.

rated it

I ha n't much interested in the course topic, but I was interested in working under the author of The Johannine Gospel in Gnostic Exegesis, a ook which had impressed me while working on my undergraduate thesis on the history of scholarly debate about the rigins of " gnostic " movements.

Therefore, she takes this and, to lesser extent, other extra-canonical gospels to represent the actual diversity of early Christian belief and practice, a diversity suppressed by the affiliation of one section of the movement with the Powers and Principalities of Rome.

With his, and with some brief review of the Arian controversy associated with the Council and its onsequences, her overview ends.Pagels' thesis that the early church was diverse and that the concretization of an orthodoxy under the Empire led to the suppression of many elements, particularly those maintaining a more emocratic, or " hig ", Christology, is incontestable.

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Another book summarizes the outlook of the apostle Thomas with the writings that became the book of John.

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Pagels is a recognized scholar of religion, and thi writer of The Gnostic Gospels, among others.

It 's certainl less about the Gospel of Thomas and more about diversity and meaning within the early Christian movement.

rated it

nly is the Gospel of John is there a character named Doubting Thomas.

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About Authors

© Nicole Waggonner