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The Gnostic Paul: Gnostic Exegesis of the Pauline Letters Paperback – March 1, 1992
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Top Customer Reviews
The book itself is broken is broken up into seven chapters and each chapter deals with an individual Pauline epistle. Interestingly enough, the gnostics, like the orthodox, also accepted Colossians, Ephesians, and Hebrews as Pauline, but they did reject the pastorals epistles. The first two chapters deal with Romans and I Corinthians and are by far the best sections of the book. Instead of interpreting the book literally as their orthodox counterparts did, the gnostics read the epistle to the Romans allegorically. Therefore, what was perceived as a treatise commenting on Jewish/Gentile relations in the church by the orthodox, the gnostics believed the text spoke about pneumatic/psychic relations. They believed Paul used such terminology secretly and that only the initiated believers could understand the real meaning behind the text. Also, of great interest to the gnostics were passages stressing grace and faith in the life of the christian.Read more ›
sarkic - earthly, hidebound, ignorant, uninitiated
hylic - similar to sarkic
psychic - "soulful," partially initiated
pneumatic - "spiritual," fully initiated
aion - one of various levels of reality
archon - one of various powers in the cosmos
pleroma - fulfillment, the higher reality of archetypes (related to Plato's realm of Ideas)
kenoma - the visible or manifest cosmos, "lower" than the pleroma
charisma - gift, or energy, bestowed by pneumatics through oral teaching and personal encounters
sophia - "wisdom," worldly understanding; personified as Lady Wisdom
logos - divine ordering principle of the cosmos; personified as Christ
hypostasis - emanation (appearance) of God, known to psychics
ousia - essence of God, known to pneumatics
gnosis - "knowledge," direct insight into God attained by pneumatics
If all this seems baffling, you might want to read "Jesus and the Lost Goddess," an excellent summary of Gnosticism by Timothy Freke & Peter Gandy.
The author is an excellent writer and the format is easy to follow. The subject matter, however, requires some prior knowledge of Christian gnosticism and a familiarity with the Nag Hammadi documents. For supplementary reading I recommend especially two other books by Elaine Pagels. They are THE GNOSTIC GOSPELS and BEYOND BELIEF: THE SECRET GOSPEL OF THOMAS.
Especially Gnosticism and the early Christian Church, and especially the creation of the New Testament Bible. For a different review....here is my review of books that build on these interests, especially the "lost" books of the New Testament Bible and the concepts of Gnosticism.
Nearly all knowledgeable Biblical scholars realize there have been a wide range of writings attributed to Jesus and his Apostles..... and that some of these were selected for compilation into the book that became known as the Bible.....and that some books have been removed from some versions of the Bible and others have been re-discovered in modern times.
The attention focused on Gnosticism by Dan Brown's DaVinci Code may be debatable, but the fact is that increased attention on academics tends to be predominately positive, so I welcome those with first-time or renewed interest. At least first-timers to Gnosticism are not pursuing the oh-so-popular legends of the Holy Grail, Bloodline of Christ, and Mary Magdalene.
This is great......I seldom quote other reviewers, but there is one reviewer of Pagels' books who confided that he had been a Jesuit candidate and had been required to study a wide range of texts but was never was told about the Nag Hamadi texts. He said:
"Now I know why. The Gospel of Thomas lays waste to the notion that Jesus was `the only begotten Son of God' and obviates the need for a formalized church when he says, `When your leaders tell you that God is in heaven, say rather, God is within you, and without you.' No wonder they suppressed this stuff!Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Whew! Not for the entrenched "Christian" - will knock off any religious socks that you have left. Spirit inspired and worth the read.Published 3 months ago by hamr
Changes my life....now I am a real christian...just a Gnostic one....never could figure out the new testament until i read this great book. Read morePublished 23 months ago by New voice
wonderful expose. would recommend elaine pagels works to anyone.Published on July 31, 2014 by A. HAGGERTY
Doctor Pagels has given us an exciting opportunity to look into the dynamic culture of the early Christian church. Read morePublished on March 22, 2013 by Rev. David Price
Elaine Pagels, Professor of Religion at Princeton University, has been a student of Gnostic heresy for some forty years. Read morePublished on October 24, 2010 by Robert Tulip
Like more than a few folks, I found the writings of the Apostle Paul somewhat hard to follow. Even the Book of Acts says Paul once lectured so long into the night that a young man... Read morePublished on April 20, 2008 by J. Jones