Adam, Eve, and the Serpent. Elaine Pagels. Reviewed by Frank Thomas Smith. In The Gnostic Gospels, reviewed in Number 2 of Southern Cross Review. In Adam, Eve, and the Serpent, Pagels traces the interpretation of Genesis from the Second Temple period through Augustine’s battles with the Pelagians. “How did the early Christians come to believe that sex was inherently sinful? When did the Fall of Adam become synonymous with the fall of all humanity?.

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Apparently, like earlier Talmudic scholars, the gnostics saw little usefulness in Scriptural readings that were not fresh and innovative. It truly is a wonderful overview of early Christian thought, that would serve as a perfect launching point for further investigation. The story is worth the effort to read if only to give one a historical perspective on women’s rights or lack thereof.

The Book of Genesis is only about four pages long but its interpretation has arguably had more impact on the character of Western views on sin and sex than any other document.

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

Books by Elaine Pagels. It was intimately bound up with a society and a government which it had previously viewed as corrupt and wicked. But now that the roman empire had adopted christianity it became quite advantageous to them.

How did Christianity change from a movement proclaiming freedom and liberation to a movement announcing human enslavement to sin? Jan 19, Matt rated it it was amazing Shelves: The Fall in Genesis 3 came to be perceived as dooming man to loss of free will. Christians can sin rather spectacularly, and would do well never to forget that the Christian is at once saved and a sinner, simul justus et peccator.


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

How can people govern themselves if they’re innately sinful? Many Christians as well as pagans, he noted regretfully, responded only to fear.

Christianity has done little in the area of gender ;agels and, in fact, has been a barrier for women to overcome. Lengthy quotes and summaries are provided of each of them.

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

Human beings are incapable of self rule, not in any genuinely good way. The Politics of Paradise. She deals with Paul’s apparent endorsement of Augustine’s view of human nature at length, one quote I thought dealt with the main pauline reference romans 5: 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.

The framers of the American Constitution inherited the Calvinist distrust of human nature.

Deepens and adqm our view of early Christianity while casting a disturbing light on the evolution of the attitudes passed down to us. All in all, I learned more about the early church and the formation of theological assumptions than in any other text.

So consumed was Irenaeus with the gnostics that he composed a multi-volume refutation of their divergent beliefs. Without her expert unfolding, clear understanding of who we are religiously, morally, culturally and sexually is much more difficult if not impossible. Swrpent 28, D.

teh During the course of her investigations, Pagels became fascinated with the extraordinary influence this tale has had on western culture. Like most of her books, except her doctoral dissertation, this one, while confined to the first centuries of the Church, d Pagels was working on pagls material for this book when I took her pagfls on Genesis at Union Theological Seminary in New York. 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.


There are strong feminist undercurrents in this book. And those few words in this case Studying classics and religion thf an undergraduate, I read a lot of Pagels. Pagels focuses on different ways it had an impact on society and culture, and how it was interpreted things from advocating original sin to tackling the relationship between spirit and flesh.

Aug 21, Amanda added it Shelves: Sep 10, Kristina rated it it was amazing Shelves: For moral self-restraint is common to all human beings who have chosen it. Pagels is fluent abd original documents so we hear the debates translated into English, of course in almost daunting detail.

So where does the sex part serlent this book come in? But what others see as a danger and an aberration Pagels sees as the essence of the Gospel. Most of the time is spent discussing Augustine, his views, those who opposed him, and why his views eventually dominated. Return to Book Page. James, is to provide a place where Christians of various backgrounds can speak with one another on the basis of shared belief in the fundamental doctrines of the faith as revealed in Holy Scripture and summarized in the ancient creeds of the Church.

In the nineteenth century, Catholics and Protestants debated about the nature pagsls the early church in order to demonstrate the continuity of their beliefs with early Christianity.