Elaine Pagels and Karen King interviewed on Fresh Air


Elaine Pagels and Karen King have co-written a book on the Gospel of Judas, and they were interviewed yesterday on the Terry Gross NPR program "Fresh Air". The interview can be heard here.

In the interview, the authors make the important point that the common present-day conception of what it means to be a Christian--belief in a certain set of doctrines--was not universal among the early Christians. Once again, we have the fact that there was a great deal of diversity within the early Christian movement. The Gospel of Judas was, in a sense, a polemic by one faction of Christians against another one.

Those in the present day who seek to preserve orthodoxy, because it supposedly came from a single "apostolic" faith, actually defy the historical reality that there never was a single Christian faith. Pagels and King point out that it was the winners in those theological disputes who got to decide what got into the canon, thus creating the myth of a unitary and unaltered Christian dogma that goes all the way back to Jesus and his disciples. Those who wrote books that were later suppressed by Christian authorities were not solitary voices, but represented movements within the faith. At the conclusion of the interview, the further point is made that Christianity as a living faith, has never been a "static thing", in contrast to the idea that you have to belief a certain fixed set of theological propositions.


Cynthia said...

Recently it was said to me that we do not need to "believe in God" so much as to "believe God", that is, for Christians, do the teachings of Jesus work in our lives; that believing has more to do with how we order and center our lives rather than with a set of precepts to accept or deny.