According to Elaine Pagels, Christianity was a pluralistic religion in its early years, characterized by a belief in human freedom, deep divisions about the most fundamental doctrines and, in some factions, no stigma attached to human sexuality. The turn toward repression occurred when Christianity became the religion of the Roman Empire. Since all human beings were fatefully tainted in their very nature the doctrine of Original Sin in St. Thus the Christian emperor launched his long career as the agent of the spiritual power, even as the supreme expression of Christian truth. Elaine Pagels argues that this was not the teaching of the early church.

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Look Inside. Deepens and refreshes our view of early Christianity while casting a disturbing light on the evolution of the attitudes passed down to us. 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 humanity?

In this provocative masterpiece of historical scholarship Elaine Pagels re-creates the controversies that racked the early church as it confronted the riddles of sexuality, freedom, and sin as embodied in the story of Genesis. And she shows how what was once heresy came to shape our own attitudes toward the body and the soul. Her book is continuously rewarding and illuminating. Pagels has taken a complex and seemingly arcane subject and made it fascinating and accessible.

Any scholarly author who has ever tried to do that will recognize the brilliance of her achievement. Category: Religion Category: Religion. Add to Cart. Also available from:. Available from:. Paperback —. About Adam, Eve, and the Serpent Deepens and refreshes our view of early Christianity while casting a disturbing light on the evolution of the attitudes passed down to us.

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

Access options available:. New York: Random House, In particular she argues that Augustine's reading of this text was such an idiosyncratic and radical break with Christian precedent that it amounted to a dismissal of more than three hundred years of unanimous tradition. As such, despite her closing disclaimer that there is no "pure Christianity" p. The first four chapters present a view of pre-Augustinian Christian readings of Gen. Except for the gnostics, Pagels argues that the Genesis text was almost universally read as "the story of human freedom" p.


Adam, Eve, and the Serpent

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