A review of Elaine Pagel’s book. Beyond Belief, published in by Random House, is a sort of sequel to The Secret Gospels, in that it incorporates the new. Frank Kermode reviews book Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas by Elaine Pagels; drawing (M). Beyond Belief has ratings and reviews. Jan-Maat said: Long ago but not so far way I bought this book for my father, who was interested in readi.

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But that was a bit like getting your information on Senator Kerry from the Drudge Report.

Finally, after so many centuries, the heretics are having their say. Thomas Merton, the twentieth century writer and Trappist monk, agreed with Tolstoy but interpreted his kingdom mystically rather then practically. Don’t buy this expecting a dull, scholarly exposition on the Gospel of Thomas.

Beyond Belief

My library Help Advanced Book Search. She gives her work a nice tone and it flows easily. Rather than destroy the offending texts, they removed more than 50 of them from the monastery library, hid them in a jar to preserve them, and buried them by a nearby cliff.

Oct 01, Lisa Bejond rated it really liked it. Though the Gospel of Thomas has a few truly awesome quotables, most of it is just a strange collection of disparate ideas, and reads more like annotations someone scribbled in their notebook while reading one of the four canonically approved Eaine accounts.

It’s very smoothly and interestingly written–engaging, really–and contains a great deal of interesting information on the foundations of Christianity and, especially, how early church leaders strove to overpower one another and promote their own view of Jesus. The hows and the whys are tempting to speculate about, but we don’t know much about the winning side, and what we know about the loosing side almost entirely comes from what the winners choose to pagel about them.


His outlook is that God is within all of us and Jesus told us to find the way to heaven.

Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas by Elaine Pagels

She writes, “What I have come to love in the wealth and diversity of our religious traditions – and the communities that sustain them – is that they offer the testimony of innumerable people to spiritual discovery, encouraging us, in Jesus’ words, to ‘seek, and you shall find.

Aug 16, Erik Graff rated it really liked it Recommends it for: If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you. But events were to prove that not everyone was happy with the decree of Athanasius.

Jesus said, “That which you have will save you if you bring it forth from yourselves. What aspect of Christianity is she underscoring? Thomas thus expresses what would become a central theme of Jewish, and later Christian, mysticism a thousand years later: Later their parents went round to Joseph and Mary and comp Long ago but not so far way I bought this book for my father, who was interested in reading the Gospel of Thomas.

Pagels goes on to eoaine that the early Christian writer Irenaeus promoted John as the true gospel while he excluded Thomas, and a host of other early gospels, from the list of those texts that he considered authoritative.

Having studied him myself rather intensively, I would only fault her for failing to emphasize how personal much of his invective is and for failing to note the irony of some this supposedly orthodox Father of the Church’s own beliefs, most particularly his claim that Jesus lived to a ripe old age.

She briefly comments on a handful of saying such as: May 04, Pages Buy.

Beyond Belief by Elaine Pagels | : Books

May 09, Heather Shaw rated it liked it Recommends it for: More By and About This Author. Learn More About Beyond Belief print. The book compares the gospel of John with the gnostic gospel of Thomas. He described the works he wanted to outlaw as empty and poisonous myths that led people astray. From inside the book. You don’t have to agree with everything Elaine Pagels says to love her.


While I’m a little disappointed that Beyond Belief is not the book I was hoping it would be, the book’s argument builds steadily to a satisfying plateau of understanding, namely that the social and political upheaval that dominated the first two centuries after Jesus’ life and death motivated the likes of church father Irenaeus to unify the church under one set of beliefs and practice, and simultaneously to squelch the diversity of beliefs about God and Jesus that abounded in the early church.

Written in plain language, it covers a lot of territory and shows how the beliefs of some groups were crowded out of orthodox Christianity. She has written several other books as well on the history of Christianity, establishing her as the foremost popular scholar in the field.

Pagel cites Heracleon who describes the first group as perceiving God as a strict, limited, but well-meaning master and father, who has decreed the death penalty for every one of his children who sins and bwlief loves them and lagels when they perish.

Athanasius had been the most persistent champion of the kind of theology that is now enshrined in the Nicene Creed, which states that Jesus Christ was begotten by God the Father before all worlds, and was God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God. Many still consider the Gnostic Gospels heresy – derided as elaiine years ago, suppressed, lost and rediscovered in outside Nag Hammadi, Egypt.

Quotes from Beyond Belief: