Adam, Eve, and the Serpent. Elaine Pagels. Reviewed by Frank Thomas Smith. In The Gnostic Gospels, reviewed in Number 2 of Southern Cross Review. It’s clear from reading this early work by Elaine Pagels why she has become In Adam, Eve, and the Serpent, Pagels traces the interpretation of Genesis In this provocative masterpiece of historical scholarship Elaine Pagels re-creates the controversies that racked Adam, Eve, and the Serpent, Part 36, Page

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Excellent insights from a scholar on the formation of the early Christian church.

As part of the government, and the Patriarch of Constantinople was to be, in effect, the imperial minister of state for religion, believers were inevitably co-opted into and made part of the corruption they had always seen in the world around them. The book was enormously enlightening, but I don’t think it helped me find “the right interpretation” any more than all that research helped Pagels. Visions, Prophecy, and Politics in the Book of Revelation When did the Fall of Adam become synonymous with the fall of humanity?

Sexuality was a problematic aspect of the Christian tradition, with many, no less than Christ and St Paul taking a dismissive attitude towards it to it. Jan 28, Mariana rated it it was amazing. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.

That nitpick aside, this book holds up well for being nearly 30 years old, and the description of the debate between Augustine and Julian of Eclanum is worth whatever price you pay for it — unless you get lucky like I did, and your library leaves it on its giveaway cart!

Finally finished this one for the book group. Shopbop Designer Fashion Brands. Then we see a treatment of persecution of Christians by the Roman empire, interpretations of Genesis by gnostic authors, and the elevation of the status of celibacy as the most conducive to holiness.


This was at a time when early church fathers Irenaeus, Tertullian and others were trying to standardize Scriptural interpretation. Stay in Touch Sign up. Bishops were now powerful people. Even with it’s problems, I would still recommend this book. It begins with more of the fascinating story of the Valentinian gnostics, who were so troublesome to the early church.

Biology is no longer destiny. Sola scriptura means that Scripture alone is authoritative for Christian life. By focusing on how various Vee fathers–Origen, Chrysostom, Julain, Pelagius, Augustine–read the first three chapters of Genesis, she shows how Christian attitudes arose from these men’s psychologies and political situations. I was surprised to learn how little free will Augus A fascinating look at early Christianity and the nuanced ways that the story of the Fall has influenced theological debates for centuries and continues to influence much that we take for granted about underlying theological assumptions today.

Simply put, it bolstered the Church.

Adam, Eve, and the Serpent

It also reminded me of how entire belief systems – institutions – and civilizations are evee on the interpretation of a few words. The author admits she started her research looking for “real Christianity” and discovered instead that it is multifaceted. The Book of Genesis is only about four pages long but its interpretation has arguably had more pafels on the character of Western views on sin and sex than any other document.

What happened had profound implications for Christianity and Western culture and in this book Elaine Pagels does a fantastic job of answering those questions.

Virginity can be a elainr of selfishness, and Augustine said that chastity without charity will burn in hell. Insofar as the doctrine of original sin has political implications, it is an ally of liberty.


All in all, I learned more about the early church and the formation of theological assumptions than in any other text. This course of setting oneself in opposition to civic authorities, would be in marked contrast to the beliefs that avam advocated by Augustine which proved so very useful in promoting and insisting on an orthodoxy that would calcify and impede the western imagination for the next 1, years.

Adam, Eve, and the Serpent: Sex and Politics in Early Christianity – Elaine Pagels – Google Books

The Politics of Paradise. Any scholarly author who has ever tried to do that will recognize the ege of her achievement. She does not give a complete history nor does she cover all the points of controversy between the developing Orthodox and the others increasingly thought of as heretics, Gnostics for example.

Unless Christ was truly and fully human and divine, man was still not saved, because what was not assumed was not redeemed. Withoutabox Submit to Film Festivals. By tthe on “Submit” you agree that you have read and agree to the Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. James website, the publisher of Touchstone. Pagels may have chosen not to articulate them because a seemingly serpeng academic analysis is a better tool for feminism than is an explicitly polemic book.

Dense, complex and enthralling. This is really a book about how the concept of original sin evolved and became Catholic doctrine.

Published September 19th by Vintage first published And also some who were considered heretics. All content The Fellowship of St.