About “The Gnostic Gospels” by Elaine Pagels
These are described as “being found in 1945, buried in Earthenware jars, in the Egyptian Desert. Dated from the time of the New Testament source materials, they were immediately declared Heretical. They offer a powerful alternative to the Orthodox Christian tradition”
This book shows… “Why Gnosticism was eventually stamped out by the increasingly organised and institutionalised orthodox church.”
This book has been an astonishing read so far. Slowly it’s dawning on me what occurred in the 1st to 4th centuries AD.
It becomes clear that the story of Christ was a powerful one, and that eventually it would sweep away the complex Roman traditions. People like a simple story with power.
The creation of the bible was also a very political move.
It built upon the Judaic traditions of the male as the dominant player, and of Jewish law.
Using these lenses, it was important for the people who wanted to coral the story as their own, to eradicate all feminine influence. (As it was in Jewish law and society)
Interestingly the church which derives it lineage from Paul (because he was the first to see Jesus after his resurrection) are challenged in many of the “other” gospels that have Mary as the first person that Jesus visited (And also have her as his chosen successor, closest confident and probably lover..)
The hatchet job that ended up as our guiding light, has excluded too, the real story of Jesus, and instead has selected many pieces that suited the power-grab, and effectively cut off all worshipers from the true experience of enlightenment.
If you can control the gateway to god, then it gives you the highest power on earth.
The selection of only four gospels, is a bit like choosing only Julius Caesar, King Lear and a few of the Richard and Henry plays and declaring that this is the True and Only work of William Shakespeare!
It really suited the early church to have a simple, non-contradictory work, written by Jewish men, who had traditionally seen women as second class.
It was an easy story to enforce.
It’s just sad for the church that over the millennia, so much has leaked out round the edges! Try keeping water in a cardboard box for a few thousand years, and see how you get on!
Take for example the film “Jesus in India” – it seems that there’s a huge amount of credible evidence to support the idea that when Jesus went missing for 18 years, that he had travelled to study in northern India. It would NOT have suited the new church to have to admit that most of Jesus’ teachings came from Sanskrit, Hindu or Buddhist teachings.
Many people have him studying at a mystery school at Mount Sinai – with the Essenes – a school of self-discovery.
Both of these possibilities, as echoed throughout the teachings offered in the missing gospels, which are slowly seeing the light.
To illustrate these ideas, I have copied out a few passages from this excellent book.
“We noted already that, according to Thomas, when the disciples asked Jesus to show them where he was so that they might reach that place as well, he refused, directing them instead to themselves, to discover the resources hidden within” (Doesn’t sound like the message “you can only enter heaven through me…”)
“His disciples questioned him and said to him, ‘Do you want us to fast? How shall we pray? Shall we give alms? What diet shall we observe?’ Jesus said, ‘Do not tell lies, and do not do what you hate” – that could have been clipped out of
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey!!
I particularly like the two following quotes..
‘. . . Rather, the Kingdom is inside of you, and it is outside of you. When you come to know yourselves, then you will be known, and you will realize that you are the sons of the living Father. But if you will not know yourselves, then you dwell in poverty, and it is you who are that poverty.’
His disciples said to him, ‘When will . . . the new world come?’ He said to them, ‘What you look forward to has already come, but you do not recognize it.’ . . . His disciples said to him, ‘When will the Kingdom come?’ ⟨Jesus said,⟩ ‘It will not come by waiting for it. It will not be a matter of saying “Here it is” or “There it is”. Rather, the Kingdom of the Father is spread out upon the earth, and men do not see it. That ‘Kingdom’, then, symbolizes a state of transformed consciousness: Jesus saw infants being suckled. He said to his disciples, ‘These infants being suckled are like those who enter the Kingdom.’ They said to him, ‘Shall we, then, as children, enter the Kingdom?’ Jesus said to them, ‘When you make the two one, and when you make the inside like the outside and the outside like the inside, and the above like the below, and when you make the male and the female one and the same . . . then you will enter [the Kingdom].’
These teachings of “child mind” through meditation are still being taught to this very day through Yogic and Qigong traditions.
It’s interesting to note that the Monasteries, of which one was probably responsible, for burying these texts, we places of contemplation. They we forcefully co-opted into the church in the fourth century, and their paths turned towards orthodoxy.
I think it’s clear to see that the story that’s been sold for 2,000 years is losing its place, as people vote with their feet.
Deep inside, people have felt that there’s a flaw in what we’ve been told, and at a heart level have lost faith.
(And what is faith other than a hardened belief?)
If you met Jesus today, he’d tell you to spend time searching inside you for the truth.
Finally one last quote from this excellent work..
“Few psychiatrists would disagree with the saying attributed to Jesus in the Gospel of Thomas: ‘If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.’”
You can find this scholarly (and sometimes too in-depth!) but excellent, enlightening book, here on Amazon!
About “The Gnostic Gospels” by Elaine Pagels