Friday, April 07, 2006

Yet Another Gospel

A day or so ago I saw the headline roll up in CNN about a "new gospel discovery". I don't think everyone simply republished the same story, but in every newpaper report I've seen, the reporter doesn't get around to the word "gnostic" until near the end, and never really manages to convey how gnosticism relates to either orthodox Christianity or the general religious milieu of the era. We all know that the media doesn't "get" religion, and it's easy to see how underinformed reporters and newswriters were seduced into reporting this (and in all fairness, the headlines from the National Geographic are similarly misleading, though the timeline they supply is essentially sound).

It can be hard to keep a historical perspective on gnosticism because it is so caught these days in theological anti-establishmentarianism. It's terribly ironic, because figures like Elaine Pagels are undeniably establishment. So I was pleased to see that Al Kimel has recommended a book of conventional historical analysis which addresses the issue. Its conclusion:
Despite all the recent discoveries, the traditional model of Christian history has a great deal more to recommend it than the revisionist accounts.

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