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Fwd: NYT Review of Pagel's new book on GThomas

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  • Bob Schacht
    Pagels book is titled, Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas. Given norms on this list, I should probably not post the whole NYT review, but you can
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 14, 2003
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      Pagels' book is titled, "Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas."

      Given norms on this list, I should probably not post the whole NYT review,
      but you can see it for yourself at

      The article is titled:

      >The Heresy That Saved a Skeptic
      >June 14, 2003

      The review says little or nothing about what Pagels wrote about Jesus--
      i.e., what, if anything, does GThomas tell us about the historical Jesus
      that we don't already "know" from the synoptic Gospels? Has anyone read the
      book, so you can give us some info about what Pagels writes about that?

      A few snippets:

      >... Ms. Pagels's book, clearly written, lyrical but deeply scholarly, is a
      >surprise hit. Out just a month, it is moving up the best-seller list, and
      >Random House has had to reprint it three times, with 108,000 copies now in
      >Ms. Pagels, a professor of religion at Princeton University, was
      >interviewed last week ... She spoke
      >softly, precisely: "There are some kinds of Christianity that insist you
      >have to believe literally in doctrine. The
      >Gnostic gospels open out the complexity and multiplicity of approaches to
      >this. ..."
      >...the gospel of Thomas claims to give Jesus' secret teachings. It
      >includes some traditions thought to date from
      >A.D. 50 to 100, and perhaps earlier than the official Gospels of the New
      >Testament, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
      >Among the most revolutionary findings in the Gnostic texts were the
      >varying interpretations of Jesus' rising. Some say
      >that the Resurrection was not a physical event but a symbol of how
      >Christ's spirit could be felt in the present.
      >Early Christians were subject to unimaginable persecutions, and church
      >fathers believed that for Christianity to
      >survive, there had to be a unified belief system, Ms. Pagels said. Some
      >time around A.D. 180, Bishop Irenaeus of
      >Lyons denounced all gospels but Matthew, Mark, Luke and John as heretical,
      >"an abyss of madness and of blasphemy."
      >... Ms. Pagels chose to study Thomas because although his gospel is very
      >similar to the accepted Gospels, there are crucial differences, especially
      >between his and John's.
      >...According to John, Thomas does not believe that Jesus has physically
      >risen. Jesus appears and rebukes Thomas for
      >being faithless. But when Thomas touches Jesus' wounds, he capitulates.
      >"My Lord and my God," he cries. Ms. Pagels
      >interprets this as John's attempt to discredit Thomas's teachings that
      >differ from his own.
      >"John has a low view of human beings," Ms. Pagels said, pointing out that
      >for John, Jesus is a divine being who
      >descended to earth. But in Thomas's gospel, she continued, Jesus' light is
      >shared by all humanity.
      >...Ms. Pagels said, ... "...We read the Gospels as if they all say the
      >same thing." ...
      >For general information about NYTimes.com, write to
      >Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

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