The Faust legend seen as a transmission of core Gnostic teachings disguised as a morality tale- Shows the 16th-century Faust text to be a coded, composite Gnostic creation myth - Identifies the many Hermetic, alchemical, and Tantric symbols found in Faust that signify worship of the divine feminine through sacramental sexual practices - Reveals a mystical process of spiritual salvation, as distilled from esoteric traditions In The Gnostic Faustus, Ramona Fradon shows the legend of Doctor Faustus to be a composite Gnostic creation myth that reveals the process of spiritual salvation. Nearly every element of the original 16th-century text is a metaphor containing profound spiritual messages based on passages of Coptic and Syrian Gnostic manuscripts, including the Pistis Sophia and The Hymn of the Pearl. Fradon identifies many Hermetic, alchemical, and Tantric symbols in the Faust Book that accompany the story of Sophia, the goddess of wisdom, whose troubled journey to salvation is a model for human spiritual development. Extensive line-by-line text comparisons with these Gnostic manuscripts show that Faustus's corruption by the Devil and his despair parallel Sophia's transgression and fall, and that his tragic death is a simple reversal of her joyful rebirth, so written in order to make an otherwise heretical story palatable to Church authorities at that time. Fradon demonstrates that the Faust legend is a vehicle for transmitting antiquity's secret wisdom. It provides an account of spiritual initiation whose goal is ecstatic revelation and union with the divine. The elements of alchemy, sacramental sex, and worship of the divine feminine that are encoded in the Faust Book reveal the same hidden goddess-worshipping tradition whose practices are hinted at by the writings of Renaissance magi such as Cornelius Agrippa and Giordano Bruno.
An examination of how the teachings of Jesus reveal the essential role of sexuality in spiritual growth and transformation- Shows that Jesus did not come to redeem humanity from the life of the flesh, but to honor it as a spiritual path - Uses Hebrew, gnostic, and early Christian source texts to reveal the true context of the words attributed to Jesus - Explores the spiritual and physical relationship shared by Jesus and Mary Magdalene Of all the major religions, Christianity is the only one that has utterly rejected sexuality as one of the many paths that can lead to enlightenment and salvation. But if Jesus was indeed "the Word made flesh" and serious consideration is given to the mystery of his Incarnation, is it reasonable that physical love would have been prohibited to him? Drawing from the canonical and apocryphal gospels, the Hebrew esoteric tradition, and gnosticism, Jean-Yves Leloup shows that Jesus did not come to save humanity from the life of the flesh but to save the life of the flesh so that it would truly transfigure all people. Leloup explains that when Saint Paul said it was good to be without women, he did not cite any words of Jesus in support of this contention. In fact, Paul's statement utterly contradicts the words of God in Genesis: "It is not good that man should be alone." Leloup argues that the elimination of the divine feminine and sacred sexuality set in motion by Paul's words does not reflect the true teachings of Christ, and that the transformation of Jesus into a celibate is the true heresy. His research restores Christ's true human sexuality and shows it to be a vital part of humanity's spirituality. Leloup contends that by understanding the sacred nature of the embrace shared by man and woman as a true reflection of humanity made in God's image, Christianity can again become the powerful path of transfiguration Christ intended.
In December 1945, two Egyptian fellahin, digging for natural fertilizer in the Nile River valley unearthed a sealed storage jar. The jar proved to hold treasure of an unexpected sort: a collection of some fifty-two ancient manuscripts, most of which reflect the teachings of a mystical religious movement we call Gnosticism (from the Greek word gnosis, "knowledge"). The texts are also, with few exceptions, Christian documents, and thus they provide us with valuable new information about the character of the early church, and about the Gnostic Christians within the church.In this volume, Marvin W. Meyer has produced a new English translation for general readers of four of the most important and revealing of these early Christian texts -- the Secret Book of James, the Gospel of Thomas, the Book of Thomas, and the Secret Book of John.
In Beyond Belief, renowned religion scholar Elaine Pagels continues her groundbreaking examination of the earliest Christian texts, arguing for an ongoing assessment of faith and a questioning of religious orthodoxy.Spurred on by personal tragedy and new scholarship from an international group of researchers, Pagels returns to her investigation of the "secret" Gospel of Thomas, and breathes new life into writings once thought heretical. As she arrives at an ever-deeper conviction in her own faith, Pagels reveals how faith allows for a diversity of interpretations, and that the "rogue" voices of Christianity encourage and sustain "the recognition of the light within us all."
In the Gospels of the Bible there are a few comments about Mary Magdalene here and there. But in the Gnostic scriptures that have been discovered, there are tantalizing hints that both her relationship to Jesus and her role among Jesus' disciples may have been profoundly important. Among several schools of Gnostic Christianity, Mary plays an essential role in the revelation of the gospel.
Here, for the first time in print, is a Sophian Gospel of St. Mary Magdalene. No secret oral tradition as extensive as this has ever been recorded, and none has ever presented a Gnostic view of Mary Magdalene as she is portrayed in this groundbreaking work--as a powerful holy woman, the innermost disciple and beloved wife of Jesus, and a Christed woman who is coequal with Jesus in the Christ revelation.
An extensive examination of the history of gnosticism and how its philosophy has influenced the Western esoteric tradition- Explains how the Gnostic understanding of self-realization is embodied in the esoteric traditions of the Rosicrucians and Freemasons - Explores how gnosticism continues to influence contemporary spirituality - Shows gnosticism to be a philosophical key that helps spiritual seekers remember their higher selves Gnosticism was a contemporary of early Christianity, and its demise can be traced to Christianity's efforts to silence its teachings. The Gnostic message, however, was not destroyed but simply went underground. Starting with the first emergence of Gnosticism, the author shows how its influence extended from the teachings of neo-Platonists and the magical traditions of the Middle Ages to the beliefs and ideas of the Sufis, Jacob B hme, Carl Jung, Rudolf Steiner, and the Rosicrucians and Freemasons. In the language of spiritual freemasonry, gnosis is the rejected stone necessary for the completion of the Temple, a Temple of a new cosmic understanding that today's heirs to Gnosticism continue to strive to create. The Gnostics believed that the universe embodies a ceaseless contest between opposing principles. Terrestrial life exhibits the struggle between good and evil, life and death, beauty and ugliness, and enlightenment and ignorance: gnosis and agnosis. The very nature of physical space and time are obstacles to humanity's ability to remember its divine origins and recover its original unity with God. Thus the preeminent gnostic secret is that we are God in potential and the purpose of bona fide gnostic teaching is to return us to our godlike nature. Tobias Churton is a filmmaker and the founding editor of the magazine Freemasonry Today. He studied theology at Oxford University and created the award-winning documentary series and accompanying book The Gnostics, as well as several other films on Christian doctrine, mysticism, and magical folklore. He lives in England.
A tale of initiation, adventure, and romance set within the medieval Crusades- Shares in novel form the mystical rituals and techniques of the Nizari Ismailis (the legendary Assassins) communicated to selected Knights Templar during the Crusades - Shows how the Gnostic traditions of the Cathars and Nizaris were blended to become the core of the "heretical" doctrines for which the Templars were later condemned - Sheds light on the contemporary conflict between Islam and the West and offers a natural path of reconciliation between these disparate cultures Set within the dramatic tableau of the medieval Crusades, this story of initiation, adventure, and romance follows members of the Knights Templar and Assassins as they discover a mystical tradition with the potential to unify, protect, and liberate humankind--the very heresy for which the Knights Templar were later condemned. The tale begins with a young Persian student, Sinan, as he witnesses his teacher deliver the heretical Qiyama proclamation, seeking to abolish Islamic religious law in favor of a more mystical approach to spirituality. After completing his initiation into the revolutionary doctrines and practices of the Assassins--also known as the Nizari Ismailis or Hashishim--Sinan is appointed head of the Nizaris in Syria. Years later, after Sinan has become a wise and respected leader, he encounters Roland de Provence, a young member of the Knights Templar. Impressed by his courage and intelligence, Sinan selects him for initiation into the Nizari tradition. As readers follow Sinan and Roland through the process, they experience firsthand the transmission of these secret teachings and the paranormal, even magical powers of the Assassin adepts. Roland braves hashish journeys, mystical rituals, and divine epiphanies, as well as sexual awakening at the hands of Sinan's beautiful consort Aisha. When Roland completes his education with Sinan, he vows to share the Nizari teachings with his fellow Templars. However, he is met with strong opposition from his Templar commander, and factions within the Order quickly arise. As we follow Roland to southern France, we witness how he blends the Cathar and Nizari traditions to form the core of the "heresy" for which the Templars were later arrested and condemned. Now an outlaw, hunted by his Templar brethren, Roland is forced to choose between the beliefs with which he was raised and the realizations of his own personal truths. Bringing to life the historical truths of his expertly researched bestseller The Templars and the Assassins, James Wasserman artfully traces the evolution of the Western Esoteric Tradition during the fertile cultural interactions of the Crusades. His story also sheds light on the modern conflict between Islam and the West--which began a thousand years ago--and offers a natural path of reconciliation between our disparate cultures.
A new translation and analysis of the gospel that records the actual words of Jesus- Explores the gnostic significance of Jesus's teachings recorded in this gospel - Explains the true nature of the new man whose coming Jesus envisioned - Translated and interpreted by the author of the bestselling The Gospel of Mary Magdalene and The Gospel of Philip One of the cache of codices and manuscripts discovered in Nag Hammadi, the Gospel of Thomas, unlike the canonical gospels, does not contain a narrative recording Christ's life and prophecies. Instead it is a collection of his teachings--what he actually said. These 114 logia, or sayings, were collected by Judas Didymus Thomas, whom some claim to be Jesus's closest disciple. No sooner was this gospel uncovered from the sands of Upper Egypt than scholars and theologians began to bury it anew in a host of conflicting interpretations and polemics. While some say it is a hodgepodge from the canonical gospels, for others it is the source text from which all the gospel writers drew their material and inspiration. In this new translation of the Gospel of Thomas, Jean-Yves Leloup shows that the Jesus recorded by the infinitely skeptical and infinitely believing Thomas has much in common with gnostics of non-dualistic schools. Like them, Jesus preaches the coming of a new man, the genesis of the man of knowledge. In this gospel, Jesus describes a journey from limited to unlimited consciousness. The Jesus of Thomas invites us to drink deeply from the well of knowledge that lies within, not so that we may become good Christians but so we may attain the self-knowledge that will make each of us, too, a Christ.
Special edition including the complete text of the Gospel of Thomas
Elaine Pagels, one of the world's most important writers and thinkers on religion and history, and winner of the National Book Award for her groundbreaking work "The Gnostic Gospels," now reflects on what matters most about spiritual and religious exploration in the twenty-first century. This bold new book explores how Christianity began by tracing its earliest texts, including the secret Gospel of Thomas, rediscovered in Egypt in 1945.
When her infant son was diagnosed with fatal pulmonary hypertension, Elaine Pagels's spiritual and intellectual quest took on a new urgency, leading her to explore historical and archeological sources and to investigate what Jesus and his teachings meant to his followers before the invention of doctrine-and before the invention of Christianity as we know it.
The astonishing discovery of the Gospel of Thomas, along with more than fifty other early Christian texts unknown since antiquity, offers startling clues. Pagels compares such sources as Thomas's gospel (which claims to give Jesus' secret teaching, and finds its closest affinities with kabbalah) with the canonic texts to show how Christian leaders chose to include some gospels and exclude others from the collection we have come to know as the New Testament. To stabilize the emerging Christian church in times of devastating persecution, the church fathers constructed the canon, creed, and hierarchy-and, in the process, suppressed many of its spiritual resources.
Drawing on new scholarship-her own, and that of an international group of scholars-that has come to light since the publication in 1979 of The Gnostic Gospels, Pagels shows that what matters about Christianity involves much more than any one set of beliefs. Traditions embodied in Judaism and Christianity can powerfully affect us in heart, mind, and spirit, inspire visions of a new society based on practicing justice and love, even heal and transform us.
Provocative, beautifully written, and moving, "Beyond Belief," the most personal of Pagels's books to date, shows how "the impulse to seek God overflows the narrow banks of a single tradition." Pagels 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.'"