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Religion scholar and bestselling author Elaine Pagels is a preeminent figure in the theological community. She forever changed our understanding of religion, receiving a 2015 National Humanities Medal "for her exploration of faith and its traditions" and for generating "new interest and dialogue about our contemporary search for knowledge and meaning."
Pagels is the Harrington Spear Paine Professor of Religion at Princeton University, where she has taught for over 30 years. The recipient of Rockefeller, Guggenheim, and MacArthur Fellowships, her impressive body of work has earned international acclaim.
Her signature text, The Gnostic Gospels, is considered one of the best books of the 20th century and transformed the way we view Christianity. This bestseller analyzed 52 early Christian manuscripts, exploded the myth of the Church as a unified movement, and won both the National Book Award and the National Book Critic’s Circle 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."
Pagels's New York Times bestseller, Revelations: Visions, Prophecy and Politics in the Book of Revelation, 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.
Her next book, Why Religion?, uses her own life as a case study to rethink our connection to the spiritual dimension of the human experience. The book is slated for a 2018 release.
Pagels is also the author of The Origins of Satan, which chronicles the evolution of Jewish and Christian concepts of evil. Her other books include Adam, Eve, and the Serpent and The New York Times bestseller, Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas.
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.