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
|Published (Last):||28 November 2012|
|PDF File Size:||18.16 Mb|
|ePub File Size:||13.10 Mb|
|Price:||Free* [*Free Regsitration Required]|
Adam, Eve, and the Serpent. Reviewed by Frank Thomas Smith. She also told how the Gnostics, though far from united in their beliefs, practiced and preached a far more esoteric Christianity than that of the Church; and how the Church suppressed and destroyed the Gnostic writings.
Adam, Eve, and the Serpent – Elaine H. Pagels – Google Books
The pahels found in Egypt had obviously been hidden there to preserve them from destruction. In her later bookreviewed here, Pagels takes up the story again, this time investigating how the traditional patterns of gender and sexual relationship arose in our society.
In the process she saw that the sexual attitudes we associate with Christian tradition evolved during the first four centuries of the Common Era, when the Christian movement, which had begun as a defiant sect, transformed itself into the religion of the Roman Empire. Many Christians of the first four centuries snd 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.
Such views, although not completely original, soon became inseparable from Christian faith. The story of Adam and Eve, and the Serpent was written down about 3, years ago and probably told for many generations before that.
During the course of her investigations, Pagels became fascinated with the extraordinary influence this tale has had on western culture. Augustine, whose views eventually became dogma, derived many of his ideas from this story: Even non-Christians live in a culture indelibly shaped by these interpretations.
Adam, Eve, and the Serpent
By the beginning of the fifth century, Augustine had labeled spontaneous sexual desire not for the purpose of procreation as a proof of — and penalty for — universal original sin, a concept that would have baffled most of his Christian predecessors, as well as his pagan and Jewish contemporaries. Earlier generations of Christians and Jews found in Genesis the affirmation of human freedom to choose good or evil. But Augustine found in it a story of human bondage.
He pagsls that all humankind was fallen and that human will was incorrigibly corrupt. Finally, with the power of the Church and Empire behind him, Augustine decided that not only non-Christians, but also Christians who did not abide by his dogmas should be repressed.
Many Christians as well as pagans, he noted regretfully, responded only to fear. By the beginning of the tthe century those who still held to such archaic traditions were condemned as heretics.
There were those who opposed the Augustine dogma, of course, and Pagels gives us a detailed account of the theological arguments pro and contra, fascinating reading, even today. For what Augustine says, in simplest terms, is this: 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.
Although there is still dispute about how many are forgeries, most scholars agree that Paul wrote only eight of the thirteen letters attributed to him in the New Testament. Elaine Pagels is obviously one of them, and she knows what she is talking about.
Adam, Eve, and the Serpent: The Touchstone Archives
We should note here that she chaired the Department of Religion at Barnard University, taught the subject at Colombia and is currently professor of Religion at Princeton. I fear this makes me most indignant — not that the forgeries were committed, but that our worthy Christian churches continue knowingly or, more likely in the case of most clergy, ignorantly to preach lies as the truth. Pabels that the tbe Christian public remains as ignorant of the deception as did their fifth century brethren.
It is certain that Paul did not write Timothy 1 and 2, nor Titus, all written in a style very different from his and expressing viewpoints different from those in his own letters.
Although the deutero-Pauline letters differ from one another in many ways, on practical matters they all agree. Just as an example, though, of what women have been putting up with for millennia: Learn in silence with all humility.
I permit no woman to zdam or to have authority over men; she is to keep silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet women will be saved through bearing children, if she continues in faith and love and holiness, with modesty.
Over the centuries how many women have been abused and subjugated, and how many have rejected Christianity because of such words?
This recognition, after all, is what all participants in the Christian tradition, however they disagree, share in common—and share, for that matter, with many people who are involved fve Christian tradition only peripherally, or not at all.