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The Origin of Satan: How Christians Demonized Jews, Pagans, and Heretics (Vintage) [Paperback]

By Elaine Pagels (Author)
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Item description for The Origin of Satan: How Christians Demonized Jews, Pagans, and Heretics (Vintage) by Elaine Pagels...

A study of the role of the devil in biblical and modern times theorizes that dissident social gorups that resisted Christianity, such as pagans and Jews, were typically portrayed as demons and therefore established as threats. Reprint. 60,000 first printing.

Publishers Description
From the religious historian whose The Gnostic Gospels won both the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award comes a dramatic interpretation of Satan and his role on the Christian tradition. With magisterial learning and the elan of a born storyteller, Pagels turns Satan's story into an audacious exploration of Christianity's shadow side, in which the gospel of love gives way to irrational hatreds that continue to haunt Christians and non-Christians alike.

Citations And Professional Reviews
The Origin of Satan: How Christians Demonized Jews, Pagans, and Heretics (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 107
  • New York Times - 05/05/1996 page 32
  • Wilson Public Library Catalog - 01/01/1998 page 79
  • Wilson Public Library Catalog - 01/01/2004 page 82

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Vintage
Pages   214
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.06" Width: 5.2" Height: 0.65"
Weight:   0.6 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Apr 30, 1996
Publisher   Vintage
ISBN  0679731180  
ISBN13  9780679731184  

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 > Theology > Angelology
5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > General
7Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Spirituality > Angels

Reviews - What do customers think about The Origin of Satan: How Christians Demonized Jews, Pagans, and Heretics (Vintage)?

A book for the open-minded.  Mar 11, 2008
A book for the open-minded, offers a new insight on the origin and evolution of the evil figure known by the name of Satan.
Shaitan vs. Satan  Dec 3, 2007
I enjoyed this book as well as The Gnostic Gospels. In another fictionalized account of Jesus having survived the crucifixion and settled down in the East, The Rozabal Line, there is reference to an Indo-Arabic word for "trouble maker". That word is "Shaitan". Many of those people who stood as obstacles in the path of Christianity were viewed as "trouble makers" and hence the derivative of "Shaitan" i.e. Satan was applied, eventually to them and the devil. I enjoyed reading this book because it explained how the very concept and notion of Satan was born and made me understand that the concept of "satan" and "hell" needs to be viewed not as religious/spiritual truth but as a political truth of the early years of Christianity.
The orgin of Satan  Nov 14, 2007
I found this book educational and interesting as well. A book I think would be a good read for all.
Not Scholarly  Sep 20, 2007
This book was written without regard for facts and misreprented the sources that were used. Many of the supposed gospels the author quoted were discredited by the early historians of the time. The author quotes them as if they were infallible. This book was written with an agenda and should be put on the shelf with fiction.
an intriguing, non-evangelical look at the Jewish-Christian rift  Sep 4, 2007
I think the info in this book is exceptional, though I disagree how the author sometimes applies the ingo with her own logic. For example, Pagels claims that it is unlikely that Pilate would have succumbed to pressure from the local Jewish elite -- even while she gives several examples of the historical record in which Pilate does just that.

There were many interesting points that rung with me. I've heard it taught in many circles that Jesus might have been an essene. Pagels handles this issue well on pg. 18. Using certain examples,like noting his association with tax collectors and his actions on the Sabbath, would preclude Jesus being an essene, Pagels writes that the essenes wanted a "Return to strict observance of God's law, especially the Sabbath and Kosher laws that marked them off from the Gentiles as God's Holy people." In fact, Jesus did away with Old Covenant altogether(He. 8:13).

This book is moreso about the Jesus/Israel controversy than it really is about the concept of Satan, which is used in this book as a catalyst to talk about other issues. Basically Pagels makes a contrast between the more general descriptions of Satan in the old testament and the more intricate presentation of his character in the new testament. Says Pagels on p.34, "... the figure of Satan, as it emerged over the centuries in Jewish tradition, is not a hostile power assailing Israel from without, but the source and representation of conflict within the community." Pagels correctly notes that Satan is associated with Jesus' Jewish enemies strongly. Because of her passion for gnostic works, the author attributes the hostility noted in the gospels towards the Pharisees and the like as simply a political premise, rather than a divine one. Pagels seems to take issue that the Romans were seemingly set free from blame, while the Jews take the heat for the crucifixion. Pagels also likes to surmise that works such as the Gospel of Thomas were written at the times the accepted gospels were written (incorrect, of course) and that many of the gnostic works should be held in the same light as the bible (that would be hoping and guessing.... chicky has some real issues with canonicity.)

The author tends to stray away from the subject of the book, however. In reality the focus is much more on the strife between Jesus and the Jewish leadership. I like the preterist slants in this work -- making it known that a great many prophecies of Christ and his judgments were aimed directly at the Jews of his generation, not some future yet-to-be discovered judgement in our time. On page 10, Pagels accurately suggests that when Jesus is speaking of future calamities in Mark 13 or Matthew 24, "..these very catastrophes occcurred as an angry God's punishment upon his own people for the crime of refecting their divinely sent Messiah."

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