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Adam, Eve, and the Serpent
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About the Author

ELAINE PAGELS is the Harrington Spear Paine Professor of Religion at Princeton University and the author of Reading Judas, The Gnostic Gospels—winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award and the National Book Award—and the New York Times bestseller Beyond Belief. She lives in Princeton, New Jersey.

Reviews

"A stunning book ... [that] refreshes our view of early Christianity." —Christian Science Monitor

"[Adam, Eve, and the Serpent] confirms her reputation as both a scholar and a popular interpreter.... Her book is continuously rewarding and illuminating." —The New York Times

"This virtuoso study may disquiet some readers and refresh other; the debate it opens is not likely to leave any reader unmoved." —The New Yorker

"Ms. Pagels has taken a complex and seemingly arcane subject and made it fascinating and accessible.... Any scholarly author who has ever tried to do that will recognize the brilliance of her achievement."  —Wall Street Journal

"A stunning book ... [that] refreshes our view of early Christianity." -Christian Science Monitor

"[Adam, Eve, and the Serpent] confirms her reputation as both a scholar and a popular interpreter.... Her book is continuously rewarding and illuminating." -The New York Times

"This virtuoso study may disquiet some readers and refresh other; the debate it opens is not likely to leave any reader unmoved." -The New Yorker

"Ms. Pagels has taken a complex and seemingly arcane subject and made it fascinating and accessible.... Any scholarly author who has ever tried to do that will recognize the brilliance of her achievement." -Wall Street Journal

The disgust felt by early Christians for the flesh was a radical departure from both pagan and Jewish sexual attitudes. In fact, as Princeton professor Pagels (The Gnostic Gospels) demonstrates, the ascetic movement in Christianity met with great resistance in the first four centuries A.D. Sex became fully tainted, inextricably linked to sin under the teachings of Augustine. This troubled sinner invoked Adam and Eve to justify his idiosyncratic view of humanity as permanently scarred by the Fall. Instead of being dismissed as marginal, Augustine's grim outlook took hold, according to Pagels, because it was politically expedient. Now that Christianity had become the imperial religion, Rome wanted its imperfect subjects to obey a strong Christian state. This highly provocative history links the religious roots of Western sexual attitudes to women's inferior status through the centuries. (June)

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