Friday, April 28, 2006

The Pagels Imposture ...

saw this a few days back at Bill Cork's: The Pagel's Imposture (at CWN). If accurate, it's another sign of the wishful thinking of revisionism, I'd say.
Put simply, Irenaeus did not write what Prof. Pagels wished he would have written, so she made good the defect by silently changing the text. Creativity, when applied to one's sources, is not a compliment. She is a very naughty historian.

2 comments:

assiniboine said...

Ooh! Now that's what I call snarky. "Lady novelist" indeed! The business of the creative quoting is really rather troublesome, to be sure; one hopes that Professor Pagels rises above the snotty fray to join issue with the substantive criticism. Like Peter Cook's miner who would rather be a judge, I don't have the Latin for the judgin', alas, but my reading of her "The Gnostic Gospels" doesn't indicate that she suggests that the Gnostics were right and that their suppression by the ultimately "orthodox" constituted some sort of doctrinal miscarriage of justice, but only that it happened and that the "primitive church" that our Baptist friends look to with such longing was a more heterodox creature than had been supposed.

Gashwin said...

On further reflection, I'm a little surprised that there hasn't been such substantive criticism earlier. I mean "The Gnostic Gospels" were published nearly 30 years ago. They've been around.

I don't know -- while Pagels herself might not be one who thinks this was a miscarriage of jutsice, she's certainly part of the wing that sees, basically, Christianity as having been betrayed -- either by Paul, or by the early Church, or by the Church Fathers. The "Jesus was a good guy but his followers twisted his message to give rise to this oppressive institution that has caused so much evil" is an orthodoxy of its own in many circles. Pagels work certainly is used to support this overarching metanarrative of the origns of Christianity.

Hence the appeal of these putative "Lost" Christianities, of this romanticizing of hypothetical communities extrapolated from bits of Gnostic papyrii ...

I'm not saying that there wasn't diversity in early Christianity -- there certainly was. It's right there in the pages of the New Testament too. I'm not sure that the "orthodox" were "winners" of a power play ... I don't buy that, as they say.

Oh yah, the essay was waaaay snarky. A bit of an overreaction, I would say. We're talking about one quote here. Not good of course, but still, it's one quote.