Monday, March 3, 2014

The Lost Teachings of Jesus on the Sacred Place of Women


I was recently invited to review Alonzo L. Gaskill's new book "The Lost Teachings of Jesus on the Sacred Place of Women." The title really intrigued me and I figured that this book would be right up my alley.

And it was.

This book isn't very long, only 112 pages. The first part of the book is Gaskill's introduction and the historical background behind the "Lost Teachings of Jesus." Out of everything in the book, I loved the history part the best. In fact I would have loved to have twenty more pages of the book dealing with it, but that is just the history nut in me. The text that Gaskill shares is taken from a manuscript brought from India in the late 1800's. A scholar named Nicholas Notovitch visited a Buddhist monastery there and learned of the existence of very old documents they had which contained the teachings of Jesus. In his book Gaskill explained:
"According to the monks, the content of these ancient texts was acquired by some Indian merchants who had been in Judea during the last year of Jesus's mortal ministry. Shortly after Christ's crucifixion, these itinerant importers returned to their homeland and told of the truths they had seen and heard. Within three or four years of Christ's death, the testimonies of those eye witnesses regarding Christ were recorded. Consequently, if their reports are true, then their record of Jesus's teachings was penned before any of the four Gospels." (Pg. 6)
This was just fascinating to me because I have often thought that there must be other accounts and records of Jesus Christ scattered across the world that we have yet to discover, or which have been lost. In fact, as Latter-day Saints we know there are additional records about Christ's teachings that we don't have yet, but someday will (see 2 Nephi 29:11-14). This book gave me a little glimpse into what those other books might contain, and it was exciting to see that among those teachings were beautiful truths about women.

These teachings were even more meaningful for me because for the last few months I have been engrossed in writing my book about New Testament women. As I have been studying and writing about the women in the New Testament I have felt, several times, that we must have lost something really important about Christ's interactions and his teachings about women.  There are many beautiful truths-- and  many more "bread crumbs" of truth-- about women throughout the New Testament, but it seems like there is something big missing. So reading these Lost Teachings was a great validation of my feelings, because I think they indicate that Christ probably did teach much more about women than just what we have in the New Testament. Which was really exciting to me.

The second half of Gaskill's book was his commentary on the content of the Lost Teachings. I enjoyed many parts of his commentary and appreciated how he drew on quotes from the prophets and apostles to show that, whether or not Jesus actually said these things, the truths contained in the Lost Teachings are supported by modern day revelation. I felt that was a really powerful part of his book. I also appreciated his attention to how these teaching apply to both women and men. Too often when we teach about women we forget that those teachings also apply to men. I appreciated that Gaskill made it a point to speak to men, as well as women.

On the other hand, I felt at times his commentary lacked the depth I was hungering for. There were a few times when he seemed to skim over the surface of the teaching, peppering it with quotes from General Authorities, when I would have liked to have dove deeper into the meat of it.  For example here are some  of my favorite verses from the Lost Teachings,
" The wife and mother are the inappreciable treasures given unto you by God. They are the fairest ornaments of existence, and of them shall be born all the inhabitants of the earth... 
...woman being for you the temple wherein you will most earnestly obtain perfect happiness." (verse 16, 18)
How awesome is it that Christ calls women a TEMPLE, through which we obtain perfect happiness! That just made my little heart about jump out of my chest. I felt like this was one of the times where I would have loved to have seen more in depth analysis from Gaskill, or hear more of his own ideas. For me the verse brought up a myriad of ideas about what it means to me-- as a woman-- to have  Christ call me a "temple" and say that it is IN me that perfect (which is often the word that God uses to mean "eternally complete") happiness is obtained..

That just made a whole bunch of happy buttons go off in my heart!

These Lost Teachings really did more for me than just validate that modern day prophets teachings about how important women are in God's plan are true. Instead, they really helped illuminate and deepen my understanding of how God sees women.  In fact, when I first read through the Lost Teachings I had little light bulbs going off in my head left and right, and made Jon sit down and listen to me read the whole thing to him (there are 21 verses) and listen to my excited rambling.

Poor Guy.

But I guess he is used to it....

Overall, I enjoyed this book and loved learning more about the Lost Teachings of Jesus. I also appreciated how it acted as a spring boarded to help me think about Christ's interactions with women differently.  I am looking forward to reading some of Alonzo Gaskilll's other books. My friend promised me I would love his other book, "The Lost Language of Symbolism", and so I will have to round up that one soon.

If you are interested in getting a copy of  "The Lost Teachings of Jesus on the Sacred Place of Women" you can  buy it on Amazon right now for only $11.99! It would also make a great Mother Day's gift... because it is only two months away ;)

You can also keep abreast of all of Alonzo Gaskill's latest news by following his blog, and if you haven't read this post by him... you might just be fascinated.


8 comments:

  1. Hi Heather
    I am excited about this book, I am waiting for my copy. He has a podcast linked to his blog about another book he wrote"Chances are You're going to be Exalted". Good review

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  2. I have mixed feelings about Gaskill but am really excited about the manuscript. Does he translate the entire manuscript?

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    1. No, it is just the 21 verses about women he included. Personally I would have loved to have read more of what else was included in the manuscript but that is because I really love that type of thing!

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    2. I think Felice has read more of the original manuscript in some books she has. She might be able to recommend other titles. But I think I remember her saying that a lot of the stuff in their account of the end of Jesus' life was really different from the Gospels and our view of Christ.

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  3. Thanks Heather! I'll have to purchase this book.

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  4. Thanks Heather! I like Gaskill's work; I didn't know he had a blog. Nor did I realize he had a new book. I probably would have figured that out eventually and bought it--BUT--your review makes me want to click over to amazon and get it right now rather than prudently waiting for my birthday (next month). I can't wait to read your book too!

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  5. I am so excited to read this! I have recently read "The Lost Language of Symbolism" and "The Truth About Eden." They were SO interesting and inciteful! I took a few classes from Brother Gaskill at BYU and loved them. I wish I would have taken more.

    I am really excited to read your book as well. I feel that you have a beautiful gift of interpretation of scripture. How amazing is it that you are confident enough to write about every single woman in the New Testament?! I have learned so much since meeting you and it's really fun to have more insight when teaching my children and trying to answer all their "why mom, why?" questions.

    Good luck with the rest of winter. Indoor hopscotch with tape on the floor is always a win. We love LEGO's too! Have a great week!

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  6. I understand your desire to dive in deeper and get to the meat of things. While reading this post, I can't help but think you would love reading the work of Hugh Nibley, my favorite gospel scholar. He wrote extensively about lost manuscripts that have been coming forward and we can read most of them! He wrote the 1957 priesthood manual and one of the chapters is about the dead sea scrolls, and he uses them to show that our restored scriptures are not as far fetched as Mormon antagonists have suggested: http://publications.maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/fullscreen/?pub=1107&index=17

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