Religious scholar Elaine Pagels, trusted the Gospel of Thomas to get her through the almost unbearably painful years after the death of her six-year-old son -- born with a congenital heart defect -- followed one year later by the unexpected death of her husband.
Thomas was one of many hidden texts discovered in a cave in Egypt in 1945 , written around the time of Jesus but omitted from the New Testament.
Pagels exploration of the secret gospels revealed early Christianity to be a mix of traditions, stories, music, mysticism, art, and poetry that were lost in later versions perpetuated by various groups. How could Roman Catholics, Baptists, Mormons, and Quakers, to name a few, all proclaim themselves the one true version of Christianity?
These Gnostic Gospels challenged thousands of years of Christian ideology on God, women, sexuality, and death, that came to dictate the cultural values we still follow. How had we not been aware that thousands of years of censoring Christianity had contradicted our own experience of what was meaningful in our lives?
So often, religion fails us in our time of need. The Gnostic Gospels gave Elaine Pagels hope. She was grateful for that.
- Elaine Pagels - Professor of Religion at Princeton University and the author of several books including The Gnostic Gospels, Beyond Belief and most recently, Why Religion?: A Personal Story
Colin McEnroe and Chion Wolf contributed to this show.