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Besides offering new insight into controversies over Paul in the second century, this analysis of gnostic exegesis suggests a new perspective for Pauline study, challenging students and scholars to recognize the presuppositions-hermenuetical and theological-involved in their own reading of Paul's letters.
Elaine H. Pagels is the Harrington Spear Paine Professor of Religion at Princeton University. She is the author of The Gnostic Gospels, which won the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award, The Johannie Gospel in Gnostic Exegesis, Adam, Eve, and the Serpent, and the best-selling Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas.
• Emphasizes an initiatic marriage between the male and female principles as the heart of the Christian mystery
• Bears witness to the physical relationship shared by Jesus and Mary Magdalene
• Translated from the Coptic and analyzed by the author of the bestselling The Gospel of Mary Magdalene (over 90,000 sold
The mainstream position of the Christian church on sexuality was perhaps best summed up by Pope Innocent III (1160-1216) when he stated that “the sexual act is so shameful that it is intrinsically evil.” Another Christian theologian maintained that the “Holy Ghost is absent from the room shared by a wedded couple.” What Philip records in his gospel is that Christ said precisely the opposite: The nuptial chamber is in fact the holy of holies. For Philip the holy trinity includes the feminine presence. God is the Father, the Holy Ghost is the Mother, and Jesus is the Son. Neither man nor woman alone is created in the image of God. It is only in their relationship with one another--the sacred embrace in which they share the divine breath--that they resemble God.
The Gospel of Philip is best known for its portrayal of the physical relationship shared by Jesus and his most beloved disciple, Mary of Magdala. Because it ran counter to the direction of the Church, which condemned the “works of the flesh,” Philip’s gospel was suppressed and lost until rediscovered at Nag Hammadi in 1947. Orthodox theologian Jean-Yves Leloup’s translation from the Coptic and his analysis of this gospel are presented here for the first time in English. What emerges from this important source text is a restoration of the sacred initiatic union between the male and female principles that was once at the heart of Christianity’s sacred mystery.
Written in a readable style, with more detailed interaction with scholarly discussion found in the various excursuses, this commentary draws on the best new insights from a number of disciplines (narratological studies of Luke-Acts, archaeological and social scientific study of the New Testament, rhetorical analysis of Acts, comparative studies in ancient historiography) to provide the reader with the benefits of recent innovative ways of analyzing the text of Acts.
In addition there is detailed attention to major theological and historical issues, including the question of the relationship of Acts to the Pauline letters, the question of early Christian history and how the church grew and developed, the relationship between early Judaism and early Christianity, and the relationship between Christianity and the officials of the Roman Empire.
Acts is seen as a historical monograph with affinities with the approaches of serious Greek historians such as Thucydides and Polybius in terms of methodology, and affinities with some forms of Jewish historiography (including Old Testament history) in terms of content or subject matter.
The book is illustrated with various pictures and charts, which help to bring to light the character and setting of these narratives.
The church fathers gathered here include Augustine of Hippo, Irenaeus, Gregory of Nyssa, Athanasius, Origen, John Chrysostom, and many more. Preceding the line-by-line exegesis are a lucid essay by Robert Louis Wilken on how the church fathers interpreted the New Testament, an informative introduction to 1 Corinthians by Kovacs, and two chapters of general patristic commentary on Paul and on this letter. Completing the volume are several helpful appendixes and indexes.
Freshly translating many passages into idiomatic English for the first time, Kovacs does not merely excerpt random quotes from the church fathers but instead produces a sustained interaction with their direct comments on 1 Corinthians. This soaking in the wisdom of the past is sure to spiritually refresh and intellectually sharpen contemporary readers who seek to better understand this part of Scripture.
In this seminal account, acclaimed historian Karen Armstrong discusses the conception, gestation, life, and afterlife of history’s most powerful book. Armstrong analyzes the social and political situation in which oral history turned into written scripture, how this all-pervasive scripture was collected into one work, and how it became accepted as Christianity’s sacred text, and how its interpretation changed over time. Armstrong’s history of the Bible is a brilliant, captivating book, crucial in an age of declining faith and rising fundamentalism.