Saturday, June 03, 2006

Taking Down Elaine Pagels and the Gnostic Gospels

Elaine Pagels wrote an article supporting the Gnostic Gospels and against how the Christian Church "suppressed" them.

I wrote my own letter and I thought it was pretty good (I'll post the text at a later date). A Roman Catholic priest took a similar (but more eloquent) tact and did a great job debunking her:
Elaine Pagels got it all wrong in her May 28 commentary, "What the 'Code' got right: A need to control."

Pagels tries to make it look as though the Gnostic writings favored the humanity of Jesus as well as being pro-women. But any student of Gnosticism knows that it was precisely the humanity of Christ that the Gnostics could not accept. To be human was to be locked in a body that was flesh, which was evil. All material reality was evil. For the Gnostics, Jesus did not really suffer and die. He only appeared to do so.

As regards the Gnostic view of women, consider the following text from the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas, which is far more typical: "Jesus said [regarding Mary Magdalene], 'I myself shall lead her, in order to make her male. ... For every woman who will make herself male will enter the Kingdom of heaven.' "

Pagels seems to want to exploit today's strong feelings against male hierarchy by excerpting slivers of Gnostic writings that distort the real history of the early centuries. The emerging faith that privileged the four canonical Gospels represented not a male imposition from above, but a discernment of what was the real faith of the people. It was a faith that stemmed ultimately from personal contact with the Risen Christ, a contact shared by male apostles, by Mary Magdalene and by other women.

Father Francis X. Meehan

Saints Simon and Jude Church

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