Religion scholar and author Elaine Pagels is a preeminent figure in the theological community known for having forever changed the historical landscape of the Christian religion by exploding the myth of the early Church as a unified movement.
Pagels is the Harrington Spear Paine Professor of Religion at Princeton University where she has taught since 1982. The recipient of Rockefeller, Guggenheim, and MacArthur Fellowships, her impressive body of work has earned international acclaim.
As a young researcher at Barnard College, Pagels’ groundbreaking findings were published in her signature text, The Gnostic Gospels. Considered one of the best books of the 20th century by Modern Library, the bestselling Gnostic Gospels analyzed 52 early Christian manuscripts unearthed in Egypt, winning both the National Book Critic’s Circle Award and National Book Award. The New York Times called it “The first major and eminently readable book on Gnosticism benefiting from the discovery in 1945 of a collection of Gnostic Christian texts at Nag Hammadi in Egypt.”
Her latest book, the New York Times Best Seller and Editors’ Choice Revelations: Visions, Prophecy and Politics in the Book of Revelation, published in 2012, explores the New Testament Book of Revelation. Pagels analyzes John of Patmos’ Book of Revelation along with similar Jewish, Christian, and Pagan books written around the same time. She considers Patmos’ Book of Revelation as wartime literature, investigating the theory that throughout history the powerful have sought to force “God’s enemies” to submit or face death.
Pagels is also the author of The Origins of Satan: How Christians Demonized Jews, Pagans & Heretics, which chronicles the evolution of Jewish and Christian concepts of evil. Her other books include Adam, Eve, and the Serpent, which documented the shift in Christian history to focus on the Genesis story; the New York Times best seller, Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas; and Reading Judas: The Gospel of Judas and the Shaping of Christianity.
She has written numerous scholarly articles and book reviews and has been profiled by TIME, The Atlantic, Vogue, The New Yorker and appeared in Newsweek’s issue on “Women and Power.” Possessing a working command of Greek, Latin, German, Hebrew, French, Italian, and Coptic, Pagels holds her BA and MA from Stanford University and PhD in Religion from Harvard.