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Elaine Pagels Books In Order

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Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

Johannine Gospel in Gnostic Exegesis (1973)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Gnostic Paul: Gnostic Exegesis of the Pauline Letters (1975)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Gnostic Gospels (1979)Description / Buy at Amazon
Adam, Eve, and the Serpent: Sex and Politics in Early Christianity (1988)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Origin of Satan: How Christians Demonized Jews, Pagans and Heretics (1995)Description / Buy at Amazon
The New Book on Gnostic Gospels (2002)Description / Buy at Amazon
Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas (2003)Description / Buy at Amazon
Reading Judas: The Gospel of Judas and the Shaping of Christianity (With: Karen L. King) (2007)Description / Buy at Amazon
Revelations: Visions, Prophecy, and Politics in the Book of Revelation (2012)Description / Buy at Amazon
Why Religion?: A Personal Story (2018)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Anthologies

Ways of Hearing: Reflections on Music in 26 Pieces(2021)Description / Buy at Amazon

Elaine Pagels is an author that is best known for her novels critiquing aspects of the Christian faith.

She is also a historian of religion who teaches religion at the Aspen Institute Trustee and Princeton University where she is a Harrington Spear Paine Professor.
Early on, Pagels got her bachelor’s degree in history from Stanford University before she got a classics master’s degree in 1965. She would then get married to Heinz Pagels the physicist while studying for her doctorate at Harvard University.
Elaine has become best known for her her publications and research of more than fifty ancient texts in Greek which were written in Coptic.

These works which some peasant stumbled upon in a small hamlet in Upper Egypt had been translated from ancient languages into Coptic.

When she was done with her Harvard University Ph.D., she joined a team of scholars that were editing, translating, and publishing several of these texts.
Following her graduation with her doctoral degree in 1970, she joined Columbia University’s Barnard College in New York City.

At the institution, she was the religious studies department head. She would become a Princeton University professor in 1982 where she also taught religious history.

Very early in her career as a professor, she would develop a reputation as a leading scholar of early Gnosticism and Christianity.

The Gnostics that she studied were a dualistic movement that stressed that revealed knowledge was the most important for salvation. She caused quite a stir when she published The Gnostic Paul and The Johannine Gospel in Gnostic Exegesis.
She would then become part of a huge team of scholars that went to work translating a huge collection of gnostic tests which had been discovered at Naj Hammadi in 1945.

It was due to her work that the now modern understanding of Christianity and particularly its formative stages have come to light.

She took apart the myths of unity in theology in the fledgling Christian movement and conducted explorations of feminine imagery which were very common in the many gnostic texts she studied.
In 1979, she published “The Gnostic Gospels” which would become a very popular work among both academics and general readers. The work would win a National Book Award and the National Book Critics Award.
While traditionalists criticized her interpretations and objected to her feminist interpretations, most laypeople who were disenfranchised by mainstream Christianity loved her work.

While Elaine Pagels attained notoriety with the publishing of “The Gnostic Gospels,” she would become even more popular later on.

In 1987, she lost her six-year-old son and a year later her husband too. She would use the double tragedy as inspiration to writing work on how humans apportion blame and cope with catastrophe.

It was from this that she penned “The Secret Gospel of Thomas” and “The Origin of Satan.” Over the years, Pagels won many awards including the 1981 MacArthur Prize Fellowship, the 1979 Guggenheim Fellowship, and a 1978 Rockefeller fellowship.
Pagels is also the author of several other critically acclaimed fiction works such as “Revelations” in 2012, “Adam, Eve and the Serpent,” “Shaping of Christianity,” and “Reading Judas.” In 2018 she also published “Why Religion” a memoir.

“The Gnostic Gospels” by Elaine Pagels is a work that explores the long-buried foundations of Christianity that has had wide popular appeal and is known as a work of luminous scholarship.
The work was published to critical acclaim in 1979 and has continued to grow in influence and reputation over the decades.

The novel is now widely acknowledged as one of the most accessible and brilliant histories of early Christianity to come out in recent times.

The work was derived from a cache of documents that were unearthed by a peasant in Egypt in 1945. This cache of documents is what would come to be known as containing several Gnostic Gospels.
The thirteen volumes of papyrus explored a radically different view of the teaching of Christ and also his life which is radically different from what is in the New Testament.
In this thrilling novel, Elaine Pagels the reputable religious scholar explains the meanings and mysteries of the Gnostic gospels in the context of Christianity today and in the times of the very first Christians.
With passion and insight, the author dives into recently discovered manuscripts such as the “Gospel of Mary Magdalene” and the “Gospel of Thomas.”
She uses these to show the emergence of different Christian communities and their different spiritual beliefs.

Elaine Pagels’ novel “Beyond Belief” is an exploration of the archeological and historical sources to determine what Jesus and his teaching meant to his disciples before the emergence of the Christianity movement.
The author embarked on her quest when her son who was by then an infant was diagnosed with fatal pulmonary hypertension.

When the “Gospel of Thomas” was discovered in the cache of documents with so many Gnostic Christian texts, many of which had not been seen since antiquity, they provided many clues.

Elaine compared gospels such as that of Magdalene or that of Thomas to those of mainstream Christianity and canon. She asserts that some Christian leaders met and decided to exclude some gospels and include others in the New Testament collection.
This was intended to strengthen the fledgling church during persecution as the church fathers constructed the hierarchy, creed, and canon. By doing this they managed to suppress many important spiritual resources.
The Gnostic Gospels reflect some of the most important religious and spiritual issues about Christianity in the 21st century.

“The Origin of Satan” by Elaine Pagels asks just who is Satan. Is he the great adversary of God or a fallen angel? For many people, Sartan is a true agent of evil who is on ERarth to ruin everything that God made and loves.
For many others, he represents the evil inherent in humanity in an abstract form that is easier to understand. However, the major point of the novel is the quest to determine how the concept of Satan started.

The work for the most part focuses on the history of the early Christian church and the New Testament. She asserts that Satan was more of God’s quality control officer.

He was charged with finding weaknesses in the system trying to find flaws and faults in humanity that could then be worked on. As an agent of God, the Satan of old was intended to make sure that things worked as they should.
While he stirred things up and caused a lot of trouble, his work was very important. Just like the hated officer manager who drives everyone like a slavedriver, he is not being a dick but is just there for the good of the company.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Elaine Pagels

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