UU topic: Exploring the Gnostic Gospels

By Jean Strahlendorf
Special to The PREVIEW

On April 13, Julie Loar will explore the topic, “The Gnostic Gospels.” The so-called Gnostic Gospels are a collection of 52 ancient texts based on the teachings of several spiritual leaders, written from the second to the fourth century.

The texts were discovered in Nag Hammadi, Egypt, in 1945 and include “secret” gospels, poems and myths attributing sayings and beliefs to Jesus that are very different from the New Testament. The Nag Hammadi texts, and others like them, that circulated at the beginning of the Christian era, were later denounced as heresy by orthodox Christians.

We have long known that many early followers of Jesus were condemned by other Christians as heretics, but nearly all we knew came from what their opponents wrote attacking them. However, those who wrote and circulated these texts did not regard themselves as heretics. Many of the writings use Christian terminology, and many claim to offer traditions about Jesus that are hidden from “the many.”

These Christians are now called Gnostics, from the Greek word gnosis, usually translated as “knowledge.” Julie Loar will discuss these “gospels” and the Gnostic tradition, exploring the significance they have for modern people.

Julie is an award-winning author of six books and dozens of articles, and is a student of myth and symbolism. She has served on the steering committee of the Pagosa Unitarian Universalist Fellowship and has been director of religious education.

Next month Loar will continue this topic with a discussion of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

The Pagosa Unitarian Universalist Fellowship sponsors a children’s spiritual educational program and encourages families with children to please join us for our Sunday service. Our children’s religious programs teach our Unitarian Universalist heritage, ethical living, moral precepts to love your neighbor, work for a better world and to search for truth with an open mind. Arts and crafts projects also are utilized to illustrate these principles.

The service begins at 10:30 a.m. in the Pagosa Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Hall. The address is Unit B-15, Greenbriar Plaza. Turn east on Greenbriar Drive off of North Pagosa Boulevard by the fire station, then left into the back parking lot and look for the big sign. All are welcome.

This story was posted on April 10, 2014.