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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It was better for the pope and for the roman empire if people were considered bad, that way they could justify their desire for more control over people. Under imperial Roman domination with its highly stratified society Christianity’s messages of freedom moral and political and egalitarianism were highly appealing. All in all, I learned more about the early church and the formation of theological assumptions than elanie any other text. Her earlier books “The Gnostic Gospels” and “The Origin of Satan” both profoundly influenced my spiritual ideas and actually strengthened that aspect of my being that I choose to call “Faith”.

Adam, Eve, and the Serpent – Elaine H. Pagels – Google Books

In this provocative masterpiece of historical scholarship Elaine Pagels re-creates the controversies that racked the early church as it confronted the riddles of sexuality, freedom, flaine sin as embodied in the story of Genesis. In the late fourth century and the fifth century, Christianity was no longer a suspect and persecuted movement; now it was the religion of emperors obligated to govern a vast and diffuse population.

It was not until Arius denied the divinity of the Son that the divinity of Christ was defined. It is not very readable unless you are mildly familiar with the names of church fathers and some academic biblical studies.

Adam, Eve, and the Serpent: The Touchstone Archives

When did the Fall of Adam become synonymous with the fall of humanity? James Calendar of the Christian Year. Sola scriptura means that Scripture alone is authoritative for Christian life. Since Christ came to save the newborn child as much as the hardened sinner, the seriousness of original sin, the only sin that can possibly exist in the child, is mirrored in the price paid to cleanse him from it: Selected pages Title Page.


Jul 15, Julie rated it liked it. Basically it is a history of the development of Christian morality in the first four centuries of the Christian Church which is still being taught in many churches today.

Augustine even takes the step of arguing that freedom is slavery anticipating the dystopian vision of George Orwell in This book nails the topic I think is most important to the ths I and many others are living life whether you know it or not: The opposite is true. When did this idea come about that sex is inherently sinful? Studying classics and religion as an undergraduate, I read a lot of Pagels.

Pagels focuses on different ways it serpejt an impact on society and culture, and how it was interpreted things from advocating original sin to tackling the relationship between spirit and flesh. The Church now found itself flooded with members whose theological motivations were slight.


The framers of the American Constitution inherited the Calvinist distrust of human nature. 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 evf a unified movement. Podles and his wife have six children and live in Naples, Florida.

Share your thoughts with other customers. Aug 21, Amanda added it Shelves: Elainw unpeels this onion. Pagels is fluent in original documents so we hear the debates translated into English, of course in almost daunting detail.

Mar 11, Shaun rated it it was amazing. AmazonGlobal Ship Orders Internationally. Rituals such as baptism and the eucharist pgels viewed as preliminaries. Are we all tainted by original sin or are we free to choose salvation or damnation? If I were to make any critiques, it would be that she all but ignores the church’s split between the Greek East and the Latin West, which — although still informal at the time of Augustine — was far more important in understanding why Eastern fathers like John Chrysostom differed so strongly from Augustine on issues like human nature than Pagels rlaine it credit for.


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Serpdnt reminds us how many of our values, both repressive ones about sexuality and liberating ones about individual worth and human freedom, arose from the debates of the early Church fathers. The Kingdom of God Is at Hand. In this book Elaine Pagels gives a history of the interpretation of Genesis for the first years of Christianity.

By clicking on “Submit” you agree that you have read and agree to the Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. Such a spur to inventiveness naturally gave rise to widely fve readings. If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?

And also some who were considered heretics. Mar 18, Sirpa Grierson rated it really liked it Shelves: While nominally about sexual mores, the book thoroughly explores the idea of free will and Augustine’s paradoxical idea of hereditary original sin. In those opening chapters the first christians saw God blessing humanity with the freedom to self-govern. Many Christians of the first four centuries took pride in their sexual restraint, eschewed polygamy and divorce, which Jewish tradition allowed — and they repudiated extramarital sexual practices commonly accepted by their pagan contemporaries, practices that included prostitution, abuse of slaves and homosexuality.

And also some who were considered heretics. Transactions will be processed on the secure server of The Fellowship of St. But now that the roman empire had adopted christianity it became quite advantageous to them. Originally labeled heretical by the Pope, Augustine’s reading of Genesis was later lobbied not only into acceptance but dominance that is so long-standing, so pervasive that we automatically take it for granted. View all 3 comments.

Pagels claims that because of their defiant attitude toward the Thf social and political order, these Christians read the first three chapters of Genesis as a charter of liberty for all humans: