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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A glance at any catalogue of academic religious books reveals that feminism is the new orthodoxy, and that to be defensible any Christian doctrine or practice must be shown to be in accord with feminism.

Self-government is the worst system of government—except for all the rest.

It seems “natural” to Westerners to associate sex and sin; women and sinful temptation. Paperbackpages. It certainly indicates that theologians of the patristic era, many of whom were trained as lawyers and rhetoricians, were fully aware of how a controversy teh to the clarification of terms. If this area of study was more appealing, I would have enjoyed this work more.

Adam, Eve, and the Serpent: Pagels claims that the Augustinian doctrine of original sin buttressed the authority of Church and Empire, and is an ally of nad. What happened had profound implications for Christianity and Western culture and in this book Elaine Pagels does a fantastic job of answering those questions.

Adam, Eve, and the Serpent

View all 3 comments. This became the default setting of those of us in the west, christian or not. Chapter 4 “The Paradise of Virginity” Regained was the strongest and most readable chapter.

The abolition of many church disciplines adxm Vatican II threw the Roman Catholic church in the West into an orgy of silliness, abandonment of moral standards, and heresy.


Adam, Eve, and the Serpent: The Touchstone Archives

She also told how the Gnostics, though far from united in their beliefs, practiced and preached a far more esoteric Christianity than that of the Church; and how the Church suppressed and destroyed the Gnostic writings.

Pagels in her attempt to examine the history of an idea, that of original sin, does not do a thorough enough synchronic and diachronic analysis; that is, she does not examine the argument at each stage while also showing how the very terms of the argument changed over the course of the debate.

Mar 11, Shaun rated it it was amazing. He could not get his mind reason was considered good to control his sexual urges and therefore his sexual urges and nature were sinful. This book had some interesting points, particularly when discussing the gnostic gospels.

The framers of the American Constitution inherited the Calvinist distrust of human nature.

The book appears to be largely made of revised articles Pagels had published elsewhere, but the flow is seamless enough and the concepts cohere so much as to allow that to go unnoticed adm one reads the footnotes. This freedom strongly implies that virginity and celibacy are the best forms of Christian life, because they free man or more to the point, woman from the demands of family life, of human society, and of the web of duties that imprison him thd a predetermined order.

Like sick people need to take their medicine i. Augustine would not be surprised.

Adam, Eve, and the Serpent by Elaine Pagels | : Books

Deepens and refreshes our view of early Christianity while casting a disturbing light on the evolution of the attitudes passed down to us. So Augustine sees Adam’s sin as choosing to self-govern, previous church fathers see god’s image as the opportunity to self-govern.

Biology is no longer destiny. I thought that it would be more of an exploration into the sources and pabels of the Genesis story.

Adam, Eve, and the Serpent focuses on why early Christians came to believe sex was inherently sinful. The Heart of Paradise.


Most useful to this reader was the story in the chapter “The Politics of Paradise” of how Augustine “transformed much of the teaching of the Christian faith” from one that emphasized “freedom of the will and humanity’s original royal dignity”.

Thanks for telling us about the problem. James Calendar of the Christian Year Order today! A fascinating look at early Christianity and the nuanced ways that the story of the Fall has influenced theological serpnt for centuries and continues to influence much that we take for granted about underlying theological assumptions today.

Adam, Eve, and the Serpent: Sex and Politics in Early Christianity

Nov 28, Larry rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: As time went on, it attracted the notice of the authorities who frequently persecuted its members. Account Options Sign in. My library Help Advanced Book Search.

Augustine manipulated the Genesis text to say that we are and the Catholic Church adopted his interpretation as a means of controlling people. All in all a fascinating, well-researched and documented book, one that will make the reader look very closely at Christian history with a greater understanding of the complex intertwining of politics and theology that make up church history.

Yet with Augustine in the late fourth and early fifth centuries this message changedInstead of the freedom of the will and humanity’s original royal dignity, Augustine emphasizes humanity’s enslavement to sin.

It only took about years to go from Jesus delivering the Beatitudes to the birth of Augustine who argued successfully that physical violence is an entirely appropriate response to heresy. Also by Elaine Pagels.