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Voices of Gnosticism: Interviews with Elaine Pagels, Marvin Meyer, Bart Ehrman, Bruce Chilton and Other Leading Scholars Paperback – December 4, 2011
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If you have ever thought it might be interesting to sit down for an informal converstation with "the people who write these books on Gnosticism" -- the books you will find widely referenced and recommended on The Gnosis Archive (gnosis.org) -- then you will very much enjoy this book. While the interviews are animated by the personal commitment each of these scholars feels for Gnostic tradition, they also reveal the wide range of perspectives that now focus on Gnostic studies. These interviews provide one of the best ways to get to know ancient Gnosticism, as seen through the eyes of its best informed modern students. This is fun, easy, and informative reading.
Kudos to the author/publisher for not putting digital rights management (DRM) controls on this book. Several weeks ago, I swore off ever buying another book with DRM from Amazon because it prevented me from being able to load it into my library manager - Calibre - and read it with Calibre's internal reader.
As for the content of the book, itself, as a relatively new student of Gnosticism (BTW, I make no apologies to Professor Pagels for the use of this term), I found it extremely invaluable. By bringing together some of the most knowledgeable people on this subject and, in an interview format in which the interlocutor appears to be as knowledgeable as his guests, I was able to grasp the differences between the various Gnostic traditions, the subtlety of which, until now, had mostly confused me.
For one who might be swimming in all the books on Gnosticism, wondering which way to go, Voices gives you a very good sense of who you might want to read next. For my part, I will be avoiding Professors Pagels and King (two individuals who seem not to recognize that Gnostic Christianity is different enough from Orthodox Christianity to deserve its own category) and, instead, moving in the direction of folks like Professors Meyer and DeConick whose views, while starkly different on the role of Judas, both serve to enlighten the reader on some of the core beliefs of Gnosticism.
Special attention is offered to Mary Magdalene, the controversial Gospel of Judas, as well as to incredibly fascinating sects of early Christianity that eventually all but disappeared from history. Thanks to the discovery of ancient texts like those found at Nag Hammadi in Egypt, we have a whole new perspective on the earliest generations of Jesus devotees. Voices of Gnosticism helps us lay readers get a handle on who these people were and what they really believed.
dont get me wrong its good.
I have read almost all of the books discussed in this book and was well familiar with the books and particular subjects that were the topics of the interviews.
Some interviews are very insightful some are rather lackluster as well as the questions asked lacked depth, but other times it really shines. why i say its hit or miss
For example the if you read the bard d ehrman interview which I thought was basically a summery of every book the guy wrote with out the added biographical bits that ehrman's books are full of . It was a pretty concise summery . To be honest if you dont wan to go through all his books you could skip ehrman's books and just read this interview it sums it up nicely and gets to the major points right away . like a cliff notes .
I also liked the Jacob fiddler interview someone who gets very little attention but has grasped some of the most profound spiritual messages of gnosticism.
The academic stuff bored me to tears. The pagels interview was ok i guess, left me feeling " i heard all this before " The weird part that struck me at the very end the interview the questioner compares her to tolken and she replies " i hope i end up like token" than the interview end's It's was really bizarre. i don't know what that means first of all and what does that have to do with the subject? not that theres anything wrong with tolken. it maybe says more about her than anything i suppose. some of the questions like that made me feel annoyed . but berger pilsen and marven mayer and bruce chilton interviews are really spot on! answers you wont find anywhere else .
so in the end its worth the money