Saturday, July 10, 2010

the gnostic gospels

in 1945 a collection of early christian texts were discovered near the town of nag hammadi in upper egypt that came to be known as the nag hammadi library. elaine pagels, the author of this exquisite book, discusses in easy to understand terms, the contents of the collection.

The major theme is the rivalry between the gnostic and the orthodox christians. The doctrinal difference between the two groups over issues like martyrdom, participation of women, nature of the true church, nature of god and the trinity, and salvation, that is to say, only via the self serving bishops for the orthodox christians and thru gnosis for the gnostics.

the bishops threatened by the teachings of the gnostics labeled the latter as heretics. while the gnostics viewed the orthodox as immature believing in rituals and motions of traditional worship. the catholic church of today is notably the direct descendant of orthodox christianity which put much emphasis on the unquestioned authority and heirarchy of the bishops. had the gnostics won, christianity would have been very different.

it becomes obvious what sets the books of the nag hammadi library apart from the canonical books having gone as far as undermine the patriarchy and authority of the bishops.

it poses important questions especially to those who do follow and believe orthodox teachings. what makes one believe this set of books and not the other. because the priest/pastor says so and that's it? (kasi sabi ni pader?) héhé ..

another lucky find from booksale. i got it for only 150 PHP.

rating 5 out of 5
A must read.

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