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Adam, Eve, and the Serpent: Sex and Politics in Early Christianity (Vintage) [Paperback]

By Elaine Pagels (Author)
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Item description for Adam, Eve, and the Serpent: Sex and Politics in Early Christianity (Vintage) by Elaine Pagels...

Bestselling author Elaine Pagels examines how the founders of the Christian church permanently revolutionized the meaning of sexuality.

Publishers Description
This road map of Ireland has been specifically prepared for tourism and long-distance travel, allowing for easy planning and route-finding and also features indexed town plans of Belfast, Cork, Derry/Londonderry and Dublin. The mapping is a 9 miles to 1 inch, showing all major roads, and includes airports and ferries.

Citations And Professional Reviews
Adam, Eve, and the Serpent: Sex and Politics in Early Christianity (Vintage) by Elaine Pagels has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
  • Wilson Public Library Catalog - 12/31/2008 page 108
  • Wilson Public Library Catalog - 01/01/1993 page 88
  • Wilson Public Library Catalog - 01/01/1998 page 80
  • Wilson Public Library Catalog - 01/01/2004 page 82

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Vintage
Pages   224
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.02" Width: 5.26" Height: 0.59"
Weight:   0.6 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Sep 19, 1989
Publisher   Vintage
ISBN  0679722327  
ISBN13  9780679722328  

Availability  0 units.

More About Elaine Pagels

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! 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.

Elaine Pagels currently resides in Princeton, in the state of New Jersey. Elaine Pagels was born in 1943.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Authors, A-Z > ( P ) > Pagels, Elaine
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Church History > General
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Church History
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > General
5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference
6Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > General

Reviews - What do customers think about Adam, Eve, and the Serpent: Sex and Politics in Early Christianity (Vintage)?

Another excellent work by Elaine Pagels  Apr 1, 2008
In this book Elaine Pagels gives a review of the story of Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden. This treatment includes early Orthodox thought, primarily from Augustine, as well as Gnostic beliefs about the story from Genesis.

The book explains how the fruit of the tree of life became sex and where original sin and the concept of the natural man being an enemy of God. These beliefs hit their peak in the 17th - 19th centuries with religions like the Calvinists, Campbellites, Puritans and Mormons. This book gives a clear explanation of where these beliefs originally came from and how they became imbedded in mainstream Christian beliefs.
At the root of our fears concerning freedom  Feb 23, 2008
Pagels unravels a tangle of collective feelings about good and evil, like an archaeologist of the Western mind. She explores the history of ancient concerns - What dangers must we fear? What limits on ourselves must we observe, or lose our souls? To these fearful questions, answers have accumulated in our minds for at least 4,000 years. Pagels sifts the residue of ancient texts, exposing the choices we have made. In the growing legend of Adam, Eve, and the Serpent, she finds a powerful cautionary tale. If the original sin was seeking knowledge of good and evil, what does that say about sanity? There are many ways to interpret this tale, but how was it actually interpreted by religious and political leaders over the course of history? Pagels documents the rise of a religious doctrine against the perils of freedom.

For peace and unity to prevail, most leaders of Jewish, Christian, or Muslim communities have felt it essential that ordinary people must doubt their own ability to know right from wrong. They needed to see that free will was the root of evil, and obedience the cardinal virtue of religion. As Augustine put it,

"... obedience ... is, so to speak, the mother and guardian of all the virtues of a rational creature. The fact is that a rational creature is so constituted that submission is good for it, while yielding to its own rather than its Creator's will is, on the contrary, disastrous." (The City of God, 14:12)

So the people must cease trusting their own minds, and turn for guidance to a higher authority. But which external authority should they follow?

In this great inquiry, as usual, Pagels combines the roles of textual analyst, literature critic, anthropologist, and even social therapist. Her work remains important and relevant decade after decade.

Ugh, not again.  May 27, 2007
That's it, last time I buy a book buy Pagels no matter how enlightened she is. This is the second time I've wasted money on a Pagels book because of a misleading title and synopsis. I'm tired of her misrepresentation, and the wtf look on my face after reading is simply not attractive. This is supposed to be a book about how Christians came up with the idea that sex is inherently evil and ended up being about beavers in their natural habitat. For all you literal people, that was called sarcasm.
The design of Genesis  Nov 12, 2005
Two creation accounts were later joined in GENESIS. In the first four hundred years Christians regarded freedom as the primary message of GENESIS. In Jesus's time anti-pagan feelings were strong among the pious and rural Jews. John the Baptist may lived with the Essenes. Jesus warned of the coming day of judgment. Rabbis, teachers, came to replace the hereditary caste of priests.

GENESIS commands be fruitful and multiply. Jesus reversed traditional priorities. He celebrated the single and childless. Within a century of Paul's death ascetic aspects of Jesus's message spread rapidly. Chrisitians attacked the gods and the imperilled pagans.

Christians in different provinces showed great diversity. Christians were distinguished for their moral rigor. Some Christians resented being told what to think and how to behave by the bishops. Some sought to know God directly through gnosis. Gnostics constituted an institutional threat.

After Constantine, heresy became a crime against the state. Jesus had said there were no grounds for divorce. Paul spoke of marriage in negative terms. Paul and Jesus sought to prepare for the end of the world. As the religious basis of society, Christians were to look to one another. They claimed moral equality. Some Gnostics believed in an internal source of desire and action.

Augustine was joyful when he gave up ambition and embraced celibacy. The ascetics were athletes for God. Augustine de-emphasized free-will and affirmed secular government in qualified fashion. He offered a theology of politics. The Christian view of freedom changed as Christianity became the religion of emperors.
All things old are new again...  Oct 1, 2004
Elaine Pagels is perhaps best known as the author of the popular text, `The Gnostic Gospels', highlighting a lesser known arena in early Christian history. Her reputation is somewhat controversial, as is her writing, but one thing is certain - she is a good writer, interesting to read, and she will make her readers think. This particular book, `Adam, Eve and the Serpent' deals with issues surrounding sexuality and gender, a hot topic in the social and cultural situations of today, but similarly of concern throughout much of Christian history. There is a tug-of-war between `traditional values' (leaving aside that there are various traditions) and `revisionist' or `modern' ideas, and few are in agreement over where the boundaries should be drawn.

Pagels explores some of the ways in which these traditional roles of gender and patterns of sexual expression arose to become so powerfully ingrained in western Christian society. To this day, most people make the appeal to the early chapters of Genesis both as the paradigm for what God intended for the world as well as the explanation, if not the actual instance, of sin and evil encroaching upon the world. Pagels begins with a copy of the first few chapters of Genesis, and traces ways in which ancient Jewish and early Christian communities interpreted these chapters.

Each chapter in Pagel's book highlights a particular theme. The first chapter looks at the understanding of Jewish culture of the early Genesis stories that would have formed the world view of Jesus, Paul, and the other apostles and church leaders, all of whom were born and raised into this Jewish culture. Jesus and Paul do not seem to see original sin as being a sexual sin or act, according to Pagels, and humanity after Adam and Eve are still called to make a moral choice out of freedom that goes beyond sexuality.

Later chapters deal with the development of interpretation in light of the political and social situation, first as an oppressed minority, then later as a significant political presence in the empire. Pagels also devotes a chapter to looking at the Gnostics and their views toward gender and sexuality, the radicality of which sowed some of the discord between their community and the greater orthodox church. Pagels then devotes considerable space to the Augustinian development of ideas of sexuality, gender and human nature in relation to Genesis, as all subsequent Christian viewpoints in the West have some relationship, pro or con, to the Augustinian foundations. The prevailing idea of original sin as being sexual derives largely from Augustine (although some of it is based upon misinterpretation).

Pagels discusses briefly the issues of exegesis (interpretation) versus eisegesis (reading into the text, or projection) - it is often said that one can find most anything one wants in the bible by interpretation; Pagels has been charged with this as well. However, as an explanation of the ways in which certain texts were understood and passed on, Pagels is a good voice to include - her scholarship and research support is sound, and her interpretations fit within reasonable limits. This is a book that introduces the reader to ideas perhaps unknown, intriguing, and certainly worthy of conversation.

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