Author bio

Elaine Pagels

Elaine Pagels - book author

Elaine Pagels is a preeminent figure in the theological community whose scholarship has earned her international respect. The Harrington Spear Paine Professor of Religion at Princeton University, she was awarded the Rockefeller, Guggenheim & MacArthur Fellowships in three consecutive years.
As a young researcher at Barnard College, she changed forever the historical landscape of the Christian religion by exploding the myth of the early Christian Church as a unified movement. Her findings were published in the bestselling book, The Gnostic Gospels, an analysis of 52 early Christian manuscripts that were unearthed in Egypt. Known collectively as the Nag Hammadi Library, the manuscripts show the pluralistic nature of the early church & the role of women in the developing movement. As the early church moved toward becoming an orthodox body with a canon, rites & clergy, the Nag Hammadi manuscripts were suppressed & deemed heretical. The Gnostic Gospels won both the Nat'l Book Critic’s Circle Award & the Nat'l Book Award & was chosen by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best books of the 20th Century.

Elaine Pagels is the author of books: The Gnostic Gospels, The Origin of Satan: How Christians Demonized Jews, Pagans and Heretics, Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas, Adam, Eve, and the Serpent: Sex and Politics in Early Christianity, Revelations: Visions, Prophecy, and Politics in the Book of Revelation, Why Religion?: A Personal Story, Reading Judas: The Gospel of Judas and the Shaping of Christianity, The Gnostic Paul: Gnostic Exegesis of the Pauline Letters, The Gospel of Thomas: New Perspectives on Jesus' Message (W/18-Page Supplement), The Gnostic Gospels/Adam, Eve and the Serpent/The Origins of Satan


Author books

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Description
01
The Gnostic Gospels is a landmark study of the long-buried roots of Christianity, a work of luminous scholarship and wide popular appeal. First published in 1979 to critical acclaim, winning the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award, The Gnostic Gospels has continued to grow in reputation and influence over the past two decades. It is now widely recognized as one of the most brilliant and accessible histories of early Christian spirituality published in our time.

In 1945 an Egyptian peasant unearthed what proved to be the Gnostic Gospels, thirteen papyrus volumes that expounded a radically different view of the life and teachings of Jesus Christ from that of the New Testament. In this spellbinding book, renowned religious scholar Elaine Pagels elucidates the mysteries and meanings of these sacred texts both in the world of the first Christians and in the context of Christianity today.

With insight and passion, Pagels explores a remarkable range of recently discovered gospels, including the Gospel of Thomas and the Gospel of Mary Magdalene, to show how a variety of “Christianities” emerged at a time of extraordinary spiritual upheaval. Some Christians questioned the need for clergy and church doctrine, and taught that the divine could be discovered through spiritual search. Many others, like Buddhists and Hindus, sought enlightenment — and access to God — within. Such explorations raised questions: Was the resurrection to be understood symbolically and not literally? Was God to be envisioned only in masculine form, or feminine as well? Was martyrdom a necessary — or worthy — expression of faith? These early Christians dared to ask questions that orthodox Christians later suppressed — and their explorations led to profoundly different visions of Jesus and his message.

Brilliant, provocative, and stunning in its implications, The Gnostic Gospels is a radical, eloquent reconsideration of the origins of the Christian faith.
02
From the religious historian whose The Gnostic Gospels won both the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award comes a dramatic interpretation of Satan and his role on the Christian tradition. With magisterial learning and the elan of a born storyteller, Pagels turns Satan's story into an audacious exploration of Christianity's shadow side, in which the gospel of love gives way to irrational hatreds that continue to haunt Christians and non-Christians alike.
03
Pagels, a writer and thinker on religion and history, winner of the National Book Award for The Gnostic Gospels, reflects on what matters most about spiritual and religious exploration in the 21st century. This book explores how Christianity began by tracing its earliest texts, including the Gospel of Thomas, rediscovered in Egypt in 1945.

When her infant son was diagnosed with fatal pulmonary hypertension, Pagels' spiritual and intellectual quest took on a new urgency, leading her to explore historical and archaeological sources and to investigate what Jesus and his teachings meant to his followers before the invention of Christianity. The discovery of the Gospel of Thomas, along with more than 50 other early Christian texts, some unknown since antiquity, offers clues. She compares such sources as Thomas' gospel (which claims to give Jesus' secret teaching and finds its closest affinities with kabbalah) with the canon to show how Christian leaders chose to include some gospels and exclude others from the collection many call the New Testament. To stabilize the emerging church in times of persecution, church fathers constructed the canon, creed and hierarchy - and, in the process, suppressed many of its spiritual resources.

Drawing on new scholarship - her own and that of an international group of scholars - that has come to light since the 1979 publication of The Gnostic Gospels, she shows that what matters about Christianity involves much more than any one set of beliefs. Traditions embodied in Judaism and Christianity can powerfully affect us in heart, mind and spirit, inspire visions of a new society based on practising justice and love, even heal and transform us.

Provocative and moving, Beyond Belief, the most personal of her books to date, shows how the impulse to seek god overflows the narrow banks of a single tradition. She writes, "What I have come to love in the wealth and diversity of our religious traditions - and the communities that sustain them - is that they offer the testimony of innumerable people to spiritual discovery, encouraging us, in Jesus' words, to 'seek, and you shall find.'"

CONTENTS
From the feast of Agape to the Nicene Creed
Gospels in conflict: John and Thomas
God's word or human words?
The canon of truth and the triumph of John
Constantine and the Catholic Church
Acknowledgements
Notes
Index
04
Deepens & refreshes our view of early Christianity while casting a disturbing light on the evolution of the attitudes passed down to us.
Acknowledgments
The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1-3
Introduction
"The Kingdom of God is at hand"
Christians against the Roman order
Gnostic improvisations on Genesis
The "Paradise of Virginity" regained
The politics of paradise
The nature of nature
Epilogue
Notes
Index
05
A startling exploration of the history of the most controversial book of the Bible, by the bestselling author of Beyond Belief. Through the bestselling books of Elaine Pagels, thousands of readers have come to know and treasure the suppressed biblical texts known as the Gnostic Gospels. As one of the world's foremost religion scholars, she has been a pioneer in interpreting these books and illuminating their place in the early history of Christianity. Her new book, however, tackles a text that is firmly, dramatically within the New Testament canon: The Book of Revelation, the surreal apocalyptic vision of the end of the world . . . or is it?

In this startling and timely book, Pagels returns The Book of Revelation to its historical origin, written as its author John of Patmos took aim at the Roman Empire after what is now known as "the Jewish War," in 66 CE. Militant Jews in Jerusalem, fired with religious fervor, waged an all-out war against Rome's occupation of Judea and their defeat resulted in the desecration of Jerusalem and its Great Temple. Pagels persuasively interprets Revelation as a scathing attack on the decadence of Rome. Soon after, however, a new sect known as "Christians" seized on John's text as a weapon against heresy and infidels of all kinds-Jews, even Christians who dissented from their increasingly rigid doctrines and hierarchies.

In a time when global religious violence surges, Revelations explores how often those in power throughout history have sought to force "God's enemies" to submit or be killed. It is sure to appeal to Pagels's committed readers and bring her a whole new audience who want to understand the roots of dissent, violence, and division in the world's religions, and to appreciate the lasting appeal of this extraordinary text.
06
Why is religion still around in the twenty-first century? Why do so many still believe? And how do various traditions still shape the way people experience everything from sexuality to politics, whether they are religious or not? In Why Religion? Elaine Pagels looks to her own life to help address these questions.

These questions took on a new urgency for Pagels when dealing with unimaginable loss—the death of her young son, followed a year later by the shocking loss of her husband. Here she interweaves a personal story with the work that she loves, illuminating how, for better and worse, religious traditions have shaped how we understand ourselves; how we relate to one another; and, most importantly, how to get through the most difficult challenges we face.

Drawing upon the perspectives of neurologists, anthropologists, and historians, as well as her own research, Pagels opens unexpected ways of understanding persistent religious aspects of our culture.

A provocative and deeply moving account from one of the most compelling religious thinkers at work today, Why Religion? explores the spiritual dimension of human experience.
07
The two leading, bestselling experts on the Gnostic Gospels weigh in on the meaning of the controversial newly discovered Gospel of Judas.

When the Gospel of Judas was published by the National Geographic Society in April 2006, it received extraordinary media attention and was immediately heralded as a major biblical discovery that rocked the world of scholars and laypeople alike. Elaine Pagels and Karen King are the first to reflect on this newfound text and its ramifications for telling the story of early Christianity. In Reading Judas, the two celebrated scholars illustrate how the newly discovered text provides a window onto understanding how Jesus' followers understood his death, why Judas betrayed Jesus, and why God allowed it.

Most contemporary readers will find passages in the ancient Gospel of Judas difficult to comprehend outside of its context in the ancient world. Reading Judas illuminates the intellectual assumptions behind Jesus' teaching to Judas and shows how conflict among the disciples was a tool frequently used by early Christian authors to explore matters of doubt and disagreement.

Presented with the elegance, insight, and accessibility that has made Pagels and King the leading voices in this field, this is a book for academics and popular audience both. Pagels's five previous books, including The New York Times bestseller Beyond Belief, and King's The Gospel of Mary of Magdala prove that there is a considerable audience eager for this kind of informed and engaging writing.
08
In this highly original work, Elaine Pagels demonstrates how evidence from gnostic sources may challenge the assumption that Paul writes his letters to combat "gnostic opponents" and to repudiate their claims to secret wisdom. Drawing upon evidence from the gnostic exegesis of Paul, including several Nag Hammadi texts, the author examines how gnostic exegetes cite and interpret key passages in the letters they consider Pauline-1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Hebrews. Besides offering new insight into controversies over Paul in the second century, this analysis of gnostic exegesis suggests a new perspective for Pauline study, challenging students and scholars to recognize the presuppositions-hermenuetical and theological-involved in their own reading of Paul's letters. Elaine H. Pagels is the Harrington Spear Paine Professor of Religion at Princeton University. She is the author of The Gnostic Gospels, which won the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award, The Johannie Gospel in Gnostic Exegesis, Adam, Eve, and the Serpent, and the best-selling Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas.
09
Millions of readers have turned to Elaine Pagels for her clear and insightful books about the Gnostic Gospels, the teachings of Jesus that have been lost for centuries. Sounds True is proud to present the first widely available audio recording of this extraordinary scholar as she explores the text that has changed the way many of us think about the message of Christ: The Gospel of Thomas. The stunning archaeological discovery of these lost scriptures of early Christianity in 1945 has revealed exciting new dimensions to the wisdom passed on from Jesus to his disciples. In her analysis of this revived gospel, Dr. Pagels reveals that Thomas was not a doubter of Christ rather, his thoughtful inquiries reflected and brought out the deepest truths that Jesus had to offer. Thomas' account depicts a Jesus who taught us that the Kingdom of Heaven is not a separate realm, but a state of divinity that we all can reach. He is even called the twin of Jesus a metaphor for the possibility that all of us can achieve the same state of divine grace embodied by Jesus. Elaine Pagels has riveted readers and audiences everywhere with her clear and provocative explorations of the testaments of early Christianity. The Gospel of Thomas gives listeners a first opportunity to join her in charting a wider horizon of Christian spirituality.
10
An exclusive 3-in-1 edition. "The Gnostic Gospels," first published in 1979, is the now classic study of one of Christianity's earliest sects, as revealed through the Nag Hammadi texts discovered in Egypt in 1945. "Adam, Eve and the Serpent" (1988) recreates the controversies that racked the early Church as it confronted the riddles of sexuality, freedom and sin embodied in the story of Genesis. "The Origin of Satan" (1995) explores how Satan evolved from the Old Testament's mere "Adversary" to the Prince of Darkness we meet in the New Testament.