The Gnostic Gospels Synopsis
In this chapter Pagels examines the history of Christ’s resurrection and how the Gnostic and orthodox versions differ. The orthodox Christians adopted the literature view of the resurrection, while the Gnostic texts revealed a more symbolic interpretation; say that those who experienced Christ’s resurrection did so as more of a spiritual manner than a physical one. Pagels notes, however, that the New Testament includes interpretations of the resurrection similar to the Gnostic view. She debates that one of Jesus’ followers, Paul, experienced the resurrection spiritually and describes the event as a mystery and the “transformation from physical to spiritual existence.” In conclusion, Pagels believes that the “doctrine of body resurrection serves an essential political function,” meaning that only those men who claimed to have witnessed Christ’s bodily resurrection “exercise exclusive leadership over the churches as the successors of the apostle Peter.” The reason I believe that this Gnostic text about Peter was left out of the Christian Bible is because the orthodox teaching on the resurrection gave minister authority to a limited group of men through whose leadership would emerge, limiting the routes and approaches to God.
In this chapter Pagels examines how the orthodox Christian Doctrine of monotheism set the stage for the adoption of church hierarchy, in which the worshipers are at the bottom and a “sole leader” rules and makes final judgments. In the Nag Hammadi books, poet and Gnostic teacher Valentinus wrote one of a God of “oneness.” His followers proclaimed that God was more than the image of a creator, master, and ruler- he was “understood as the ultimate source of all being,” according to Pagels. This concept was found to be heretical because it challenged the supremacy of the church by “one bishop.” For example, Clement, the bishop of Rome addressed a crisis of leadership in the Corinthian...
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