The Gnostic Gospels Characters

Characters

Adam
Adam appears with Eve in the Old Testament, in the Book of Genesis, in the Garden of Eden. He also appears in a number of the Nag Hammadi texts, such as the Testimony of Truth, as a character in versions of the creation story that vary from the one in Genesis.

al-Qummus Basiliyusi Abd al-Masih
Al-Qummus Basiliyusi Abd al-Masih was a priest who hid some of the Gnostic books for Muhammad 'Ali al-Samman. He gave one to the history teacher Raghib.

Marcus Aurelius
Marcus Aurelius was emperor of Rome in the second half of the second century. He has been described as an educated and erudite ruler, but Christians were still persecuted under his regime.
According to Pagels, he "despised the Christians as morbid and misguided exhibitionists.’’

Clement of Alexandria
Clement of Alexandria, a revered orthodox Christian scholar writing in Egypt around the last part of the second century, expressed many sympathies toward women and their role in religion. Some suspected that he was actually a Gnostic initiate.

Pope Clement, I
Clement I was Bishop of Rome and Pope between A.D. 90 and 100. His letters to the Christian community in Corinth offer an early example of a hierarchy forming within the church. In his letters he states that there is a difference between the clergy and the laity and that God delegates authority to ‘‘rulers and leaders on earth.’’ He also notes in his letters to the Corinthians that women should ‘‘remain in the rule of subjugation’’ to their husbands.

Constantine
Constantine was the emperor of Rome in the first half of the fourth century. He was converted to orthodox Christianity. Soon, Christianity became the empire's official state religion, and the penalties for heresy "escalated," according to Pagels.

Eve
Eve appears with Adam in the story of the Garden of Eden in the Old Testament's Book of Genesis. She also appears in the varied creation stories in the Nag Hammadi Gnostic texts. In Genesis, she is born from the rib of Adam, but in many of the Gnostic texts she is created by God separately from Adam.

George Fox
George Fox founded the Quaker Church in England during the 1600s. Pagels notes that he, like the ancient Christian Gnostics, rejected the church's authority and sought to find his own ‘‘inner light.’’

Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud was a physician in Austria who developed the concept of psychoanalysis in the early part of the twentieth century. Pagels mentions him in the book because she sees many correlations between Gnostic efforts to understand the self and Freud's work on the unconscious.

Heracleon
Heracleon was a student of Valentinus in the middle of the second century and became a Gnostic teacher. He believed that Christians could confess their faith in two ways: before a magistrate and in the daily actions of their lives. He taught that Christians could understand their relationship with Jesus and God through self-reflection and did not necessarily need the guidance of the church.

Hippolytus
Hippolytus was a Greek Christian teacher who lived in Rome at the end of the second century and the beginning of the third century. He wrote the Refutation of All Heresies in which he explains, among other things, the origin of the universe. Pagels notes that his "zeal for martyrdom ... was matched by his hatred of heresy.’’ In A.D. 235, the Roman emperor Maximin had him deported to Sardinia, where he died. Hippolytus objected to Callistus being named Pope and Bishop of Rome so much that he perpetrated numerous slanders about his character and separated himself from the church while Callistus was Pope.

Ignatius
Ignatius was the orthodox Bishop of Antioch in Syria until his death in A.D. 110. He declared that because there was only one God in heaven, there could be only one bishop for each church, and that the bishop stands in the place of God on Earth. Eventually, Roman officials condemned him to death for undermining Rome's civil authority. According to Pagels, he ‘‘accepted the death sentence with joyful exaltation'' and saw it as a way to imitate his God and Jesus.

Irenaeus
Irenaeus was a student of Polycarp and became the orthodox Bishop of Lyons in France. He wrote a five-volume treatise against Gnosticism and heresy entitled The Destruction and Overthrow of Falsely So-Called Knowledge. He believed that there could be no salvation outside the orthodox church and that the church must be united and universal. Irenaeus especially hated those who ‘‘outwardly acted like orthodox Christians, but who were privately members of Gnostic circles.’’ He was also particularly alarmed that women were attracted to Gnostic groups and allowed to participate fully. Pagels uses his words extensively throughout her book to underline accepted Christian orthodox beliefs.

Judas Iscariot
Judas...

(The entire section is 2072 words.)