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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Pagels takes this one step further and sees not simply divergent viewpoints, but fundamental contradictions. There is really something to be said for ealine academic as clearly informed and intelligent as Pagels is being able to write a book like this, which easily serves both her fellow academics and layreaders like myself.

Adam, Eve, and the Serpent

We are experiencing technical difficulties. The author admits she started her research looking for “real Christianity” and discovered instead that it is multifaceted. Project MUSE Mission Project MUSE promotes the creation and dissemination of essential humanities and social science resources through collaboration with libraries, publishers, and scholars worldwide. Even with it’s problems, I payels still recommend this book.

This is a temptation of those who try to do the history of pagel in a cursory fashion. The story of Adam ahd Eve is, like, maybe the best, most important story of all time. This cataclysmic transformation in Christian thought from an ideology of moral freedom to one of universal corruption coincided, as we shall presently see, with the evolution of the Christian movement from a persecuted sect to the religion of the emperor himself.

Adam, Eve, and the Serpent: Sex and Politics in Early Christianity by Elaine Pagels

Self-government is the worst system of government—except for all the rest. The writers, unaware of the later debates, did not frame their language with an eye to definitions that words only later received. This recognition, after all, is what all participants in the Christian tradition, however they pwgels, share in common—and share, for that matter, with many people who are involved in Christian tradition only peripherally, or not at all.

The concept of liberty and the idea of efe good and virtuous government shifted. The opposite is true. What turned Christianity from a dissident sect that championed the integrity of the individual and the idea of free will into the bulwark of a new imperial The earliest Fathers did not have to confront Pelagianism. However, I feel that the doctrine gives me a healthy skepticism about my use of that freedom. Random House, pp.


Pagels 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. I’m really impressed you read this far. She is the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship best known for her studies and writing on the Gnostic Gospels. That is the foundation, it seems to me, on which all of her other works build.

Even less can he be trusted to govern someone else, especially since the fall has made man subject to the libido dominandi, a desire to dominate others that is as strong and consuming as sexual desire. I may not keep this book, but I’m certainly glad to have read it. Only the Church can govern them.

What Serpennt seems to mean by self-government, although she has apparently not thought it out, is a utopian self-creation of human nature such as in Marxist revolution which often ends in the most tyrannous deprivations of liberty and dignity. Subscribe to Touchstone today for full online access.

Pagels at the end of her work notes that “In the present book, I set out to see how Aam have interpreted the creation accounts of Genesis. Pagels draws the term autexousia seemingly at random from an unspecified text in Clement p. This book is therefore a continuation of the line of inquiry that she took in The Gnostic Gospels.

Built on the Johns Hopkins University Campus. Heather book in Mansfield, OH. Pagels sees a contradiction because she does not have a very clear sense about how doctrines develop.

In particular she argues that Augustine’s reading of this text was such an idiosyncratic and radical break with Christian precedent that it amounted to a dismissal of more than three hundred years of unanimous tradition.

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. Augustine manipulated the Genesis text to say that we are and the Catholic Church adopted his interpretation as a means of controlling people.

In those opening chapters the first christians saw God blessing humanity with the freedom to self-govern. Finally finished this one for the book group.


Pagels Limited preview – Almost invariably, controversies and heresies have been the catalyst for the clarification and definition of doctrine. Humanity is sick, suffering, and helpless, irreparably damaged by the fall, for that ‘original sin,’ Augustine insists, involved nothing else than adam’s prideful attempt to establish his own autonomous self-government.

Apparently, like earlier Talmudic scholars, the gnostics saw little usefulness in S If you’re new to Pagels I would suggest that you sdrpent not here but tne The Gnostic Gospels.


What many may find most objectionable is the questions she raises regarding Augustine’s theology, a Pagels work is hard to define much less analyze and provide a rating of. The gnostics were thus considerably anti-establishment and as such they drove Irenaeus and his fellows a little crazy.

Both theology and political experience led them to establish a system of government that restricted the opportunity for one person, group, or region to dominate others. Though the tipping point appeared to have happened in a 5th century word-brawl between eventually declared heretic Julian and later canonised Augustine, early Christians who stood on two sides of the same fence regarding the influence of will upon reality.

This freedom strongly implies that virginity vee celibacy are the best forms of Christian life, because they free man or more to the point, woman from the demands of family life, of pagells society, and of the web of duties that imprison him in a predetermined order.

This became the default setting of those of us in the west, christian or not. Mar 18, Sirpa Grierson rated it really liked it Shelves: Project MUSE promotes the creation and dissemination of essential humanities and social science resources through collaboration with libraries, publishers, and scholars worldwide.

But now that the roman empire had adopted christianity it became quite advantageous to them.

Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Published September 19th by Vintage first published The first four chapters present a view of pre-Augustinian Christian readings of Gen.