Perhaps no origin has been as central to Western thinking as Original Sin, and who better to explain its significance than Biblical scholar Elaine Pagels, who won international acclaim for her best-selling book, The Gnostic Gospels (1979, Random House).
Expanding on questions raised in that book, Pagels wrote Adam, Eve, and the Serpent (1988, Random House), exploring how Christians reinterpreted the Genesis story to emphasize the sinfulness of human nature. In The Origin of Satan (1995, Random House), she sketches the development of Jewish and Christian perceptions of evil, presenting the politics behind the invention of the devil.
Her latest book, Reading Judas: The Gospel of Judas and the Shaping of Christianity, which is coauthored with Karen King, is the first to show how the newly discovered Gospel of Judas helps reveal how Jesus' followers understood his death, why Judas betrayed Jesus, and why God allowed it.
Elaine Pagels took her BA in history and MA in classical studies from Stanford University, and her PhD in religion from Harvard University. Before joining the faculty of Princeton University, she taught at Barnard College and Columbia University.
In 1981 Pagels was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship. Other honors include Guggenheim and Rockefeller Fellowships. Her book, The Gnostic Gospels, won the National Book Critics Circle Award and the National Book Award. In addition to her scholarly books and articles, she has been profiled in Time, The Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times Magazine, and The New Yorker, and was a featured commentator on the 2003 ABC special program, "Jesus, Mary and Da Vinci."
Harrington Spear Paine Professor of Religion