YOGA

When unconscious became conscious this is Samadhi

Elaine Pagels, The Gnostic Gospels, 1989, p. 49-50. July 11, 2008


“A second characterization of the divine Mother describes her as Holy
Spirit. The Apocryphon of John relates how John went out after the
crucifixion with “great grief” and had a mystical vision of the
Trinity. As John was grieving, he says that:

The [heavens were opened and the whole] creation [which is] under
heaven shone and [the world] trembled. [And I was afraid, and I] saw
in the light . . . a likeness with multiple forms . . . and the
likeness had three forms. [14]

To John’s question the vision answers: “He said to me, `John, Jo[h]n,
why do you doubt, and why are you afraid? . . . I am the one who [is
with you] always. I [am the Father]; I am the Mother; I am the Son.”
[15]

This Gnostic description of God — as Father, Mother and Son — may
startle us at first, but on reflection we can recognize it as another
version of the Trinity. The Greek terminology for the Trinity, which
includes the neuter term for spirit (pneuma) virtually requires that
the third “Person” of the Trinity be asexual. But the author of the
Secret Book has in mind the Hebrew term for spirit, ruah, a feminine
word; and so concludes that the feminine “Person” conjoined with the
Father and Son must be the Mother. The Secret Book goes on to
describe the divine Mother:

. . . (She is) . . . the image of the invisible, virginal, perfect
spirit . . . She became the Mother of everything, for she existed
before them all, the mother-father [matropater] . . . [16]

The Gospel to the Hebrews likewise has Jesus speak of “my Mother, the
Spirit.” [17] In the Gospel of Thomas, Jesus contrasts his earthly
parents, Mary and Joseph, with his divine Father — the Father of
Truth — and his divine Mother, the Holy Spirit.”

(14. Apocryphon of John 1.31-2.9, in nhl 99; 15. Ibid., 2.2-14, in
nhl 99; 16. Ibid., 4.34-5.7, in nhl 101; 17. Gospel to the Hebrews,
cited in Origen, comm. jo. 2.12.) (14. Apocryphon of John 1.31-2.9,
in nhl 99; 15. Ibid., 2.2-14, in nhl 99; 16. Ibid., 4.34-5.7, in nhl
101; 17. Gospel to the Hebrews, cited in Origen, comm. jo. 2.12.)

Elaine Pagels, The Gnostic Gospels, 1989, p. 49-50.
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Vintage (September 19, 1989)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0679724532
ISBN-13: 978-0679724537

Brings up questions of what might have been…, November 24, 2002
By M. Nichols (San Francisco, CA United States)

Elaine Pagels is a first-rate religious historian– currently a
professor at Princeton– and “The Gnostic Gospels” is her best known
work, examining the contents of “secret” gospels written after the
death of Jesus which were rejected from canonization and therefore
are largely unknown to Bible-reading Christians.

What is most interesting to consider is just how different
Christianity might be today if additional writings had been included
in the Bible. One theory as to why they weren’t was that early
bishops wanted only gospels written by Jesus’s apostles included in
the Bible, although subsequent scholarship has proven that none of
the Gospels’ authorship is certain. Among the rejected, the Gospel of
Thomas is probably the best known, and it is fascinating in its non-
literal approach to Christ. Jesus is described as telling his
followers that the Kingdom of God is not a realm (Pagels concludes
that it is closer to an altered state of consciousness) and makes
comments that place him closer in philosophy to the Buddha than to
St. Paul.

A lot is covered in just 180 pages — Pagels gets credit for being
among the least self-indulgent writers around. She lays down the
facts and then lets the reader mull over them. No matter what your
beliefs, you will benefit from reading this book.

———— ——— —-

Outstanding scholarly work, April 11, 2007
By Gaetan Lion

Originally written nearly 30 years ago, this book remains a must-read
on the subject. Elaine Pagels is a renowned scholar with a Harvard
Ph.D. in religion. She directly studied and translated some of the
Nag Hammadi manuscripts in the early seventies. Her related research
represents the foundation of this book. She later became a Princeton
professor. She wrote several seminal books on Christianity. Her
lifelong work has significantly advanced our knowledge of early
Christianity.

Each chapter focuses on a specific tenet of Christianity and stresses
the differences between Gnostic and orthodox Christians. While the
orthodox Christians believe in the physical reality of Jesus’
resurrection, the immaculate conception of Jesus, and martyrdom; the
Gnostic Christians interpret the resurrection in a spiritual way (not
a literal one). They also do not believe in the Immaculate
Conception. And, they reject martyrdom as a fanatical practice not
reflecting Jesus’ teachings.

The Gnostic Christians don’t believe in the orthodox Christians’
hierarchy. Gnostic Christians believe each of us has direct access to
God. And, that orthodox bishops and priests represent unwanted
obstacles to this access. Additionally, Gnostic Christians do not
exclude women as the sexes are equal in front of God. They even
revere God as both the Father and the Mother. Also, they don’t
consider Mary Magdalene to be a woman of ill repute, but instead an
equal if not a superior to the twelve apostles.

For Gnostic Christians, the overarching factor is how much gnosis
(knowledge) a believer has. This also entails wisdom and maturity.
Gnosis is means knowledge based on empirical firsthand experience in
Greek. It entails self-knowledge or “know thyself” a key concept in
Greek philosophy (Aristotle, Plato, Socrates). For Gnostic Christian
this concept is so important that knowing self ultimately leads to
knowing God. Thus, there is no separation between God and the
individual. This underlines the drastic difference between Gnostic
and orthodox Christians. The author mentions that this concept leads
to Gnosticism having a significant influence on modern Existentialism.

———— ——— ——— –

Should be read by anyone who considers him/herself Christian,
December 8, 1998
By jcw@princeton. edu (JW) (Princeton, NJ)

The Gnostic Gospels is a truly mind-liberating, eye-opening piece of
historical analysis that I would recommend to anyone, especially
those from a “Christian” background. It addresses the fact that our
knowledge of modern Christianity is based on four gospels in the New
Testament that lay the foundations for Christian doctrine, i.e., that
Jesus’ resurrection be understood literally, that the Trinity
consists of Father, Son and Holy Ghost, and that one is “originally”
sinful and must accept Jesus as his/her savior. This modern doctrine,
in my opinion, leads to self-denial and an “easy way out”- overly
simply explanations which lead to close-mindedness. In my experience,
mass religion has little value- it is one’s personal philosophy and
individual spiritual development that I think is essential for one to
be truly religious and spiritually alive.

For this reason the Gnostic
Gospels struck me profoundly. It revealed the fact that these four
Gospels (selected by the orthodox church to institute this religion)
were among SCORES of gospels about Jesus’ teachings, some of which
are very likely to be more historically accurate than those found in
the Bible. This alternative philosophy and teaching of Jesus
encourages bringing out one’s true self and coming to know oneself in
order to get close to God. It speaks of God as both masculine and
feminine. In a sense it resembles Buddhism. More importantly, I
believe these gnostic texts (which weren’t discovered until 1945
in Egypt) contain a truer, more meaningful message that can be
applied to an individual’s life.

This book has reconciled me with Christianity, for I agree with – and try to learn from – many of the Gnostic teachings. Unfortunately, as these teachings encourage one to
ask questions and go one’s own way (rather than blindly accepting
what society preaches), it was impossible for the church to
institutionalize Christianity without selecting only certain, “easy
answer” texts which allowed the church to legitimize the Bishops’
authority over people.

Above all, Pagels’s study demands that we
reconsider our interpretation of history and realize that what we
know of as “Christianity” remains very limited. Anyone even slightly
interested in religion should read The Gnostic Gospels; its
uncommon ability to help us de-provincialize ourselves requires only
one essential tool: an open mind.

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4 Responses to “Elaine Pagels, The Gnostic Gospels, 1989, p. 49-50.”

  1. BigBan Says:

    Oh, Thanks! Really funny. keep working!

  2. jobeth Says:

    where can i find the gnostic gospels so that i can read them!


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