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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In those opening chapters the first christians saw God blessing humanity with the freedom to self-govern. James Calendar of the Christian Year.

Adam, Eve, and the Serpent

I’ve never read Pagels before, either, so she’s a new authour to me. As the numbers grew, so did its influence. But the truth is just the opposite. The first chapter is kind of foundational talking about Jesus and Paul and first century Judaism. The book is chronologically linear, beginning with attitudes toward sexual morality during the time of Jesus of How did Christianity change from a movement proclaiming freedom and liberation to a movement announcing human enslavement to sin?

Some of the quotes are pretty amusing and bizarre–especially the one about Adam’s sin being perpetuated via semen–LOL!

He argued that all humankind was fallen and that human will was incorrigibly corrupt. Returns, refunds, and privacy policy.

Adam, Eve, and the Serpent: The Touchstone Archives

It only took about years to go from Jesus delivering the Beatitudes to the birth of Augustine who argued successfully that adaam violence is an entirely appropriate response to heresy. He is a senior editor of Touchstone. I would absolutely agree we see the impact of it every day in western culture. The Church now found itself flooded with axam whose theological motivations were slight. It is frustrating to read, because the realization comes that so much of this discussion and infighting formed ideologies that are clung to today, thousands of years later.


Podles and his wife have six children and live in Naples, Florida.

Adam, Eve, and the SerpentPart 36, Page What many may find most objectionable is the questions she raises regarding Augustine’s theology, and by implication the Western Church’s theology.

When did the fall become the Fall?

Yet as Augustine grew older he argued that even the most saintly ascetic was not, in himself, capable of self-mastery; that all humankind was fallen and that the human will was incorrigibly corrupt. Sep 10, Kristina rated it it was amazing Shelves: I was surprised to learn how little free will Augus A fascinating look at early Christianity and the nuanced ways that the story of the Fall has influenced theological debates for centuries and continues to influence much that we take for granted about underlying theological assumptions today.

Pagels claims that the Augustinian doctrine of original sin buttressed the authority of Church and Empire, and is an ally of tyranny. Augustine manipulated the Genesis text to say that we are and the Catholic Church adopted his interpretation as a means of controlling people. While nominally about sexual mores, the book thoroughly explores the idea of free will and Augustine’s paradoxical idea of hereditary original sin.

So it’s really fun to really dissect it and trace it’s effect on everything that followed. The protestant reformers, particularly John Calvin, continued and exacerbated Augustine’s misinterpretation.

This freedom meant that redeemed man was no longer subject to the tyranny of nature and society. Any scholarly author who has ever tried to do that will recognize the brilliance of her achievement. In this work she reviews the Judeo-Christian creation myth and its permutations in gender relations. Books by Elaine Pagels. We are experiencing pgaels difficulties. You know the ones: And she shows how what was once heresy came to shape our own attitudes toward the body and the soul.

Adam, Eve, and the Serpent by Elaine Pagels

What turned Christianity from a dissident sect that championed the integrity of the individual and the idea of free will into the bulwark of a new imperial For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Lists with This Book. Unless Christ was truly and fully human and divine, man was still not saved, because what was not assumed was not redeemed.


The set of beliefs and understanding of man and the world Weltanschaung is the wonderful German word for it that largely informs the Christian church to this day was defined and crystallized in those first four or five centuries. As with all books about early Christianity, I found myself in much closer agreement with the heretics.

Apparently, like earlier Talmudic scholars, the gnostics saw little usefulness in S If you’re new to Pagels I would suggest that you start not here but with The Gnostic Gospels. The emphasis was not on any kind of ‘original sin’ until Augustine. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Pagels has taken a complex and seemingly arcane subject and made it fascinating and accessible.

But the implications of the debate from ad are still with us today.

There is so much that the average Christian doesn’t know about the history of the church and how much of what we believe today was really shaped by that history and not by Jesus or his teachings. I don’t want to spoil it for you My library Help Advanced Book Search. Augustine uses the passage to deny that human beings have free moral choice, which jews and christians had traditionally regarded as the birthright of humanity made ‘in God’s image.

I liked how she links religion and poltics and calls Jesus a political protestor–very interesting. As in her class, Pagels is clear and accessible to non-specialists.