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The Origin of Satan

How Christians Demonized Jews, Pagans, and Heretics

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Paperback published by Vintage (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group)

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About This Book
From the religious historian whose The Gnostic Gospels won both the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award comes a dramatic interpretation of Satan and his role on the Christian tradition. With magisterial learning and the elan of a born storyteller, Pagels turns Satan's story into an audacious exploration of Christianity's shadow side, in which the gospel of love gives way to irrational hatreds that continue to haunt Christians and non-Christians alike.
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From the religious historian whose The Gnostic Gospels won both the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award comes a dramatic interpretation of Satan and his role on the Christian tradition. With magisterial learning and the elan of a born storyteller, Pagels turns Satan's story into an audacious exploration of Christianity's shadow side, in which the gospel of love gives way to irrational hatreds that continue to haunt Christians and non-Christians alike.
Product Details
Paperback (240 pages)
Published: April 30, 1996
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Imprint: Vintage
ISBN: 9780679731184
Other books byElaine Pagels
  • Beyond Belief

    Beyond Belief
    The Secret Gospel of Thomas
    In Beyond Belief, renowned religion scholar Elaine Pagels continues her groundbreaking examination of the earliest Christian texts, arguing for an ongoing assessment of faith and a questioning of religious orthodoxy. Spurred on by personal tragedy and new scholarship from an international group of researchers, Pagels returns to her investigation of the “secret” Gospel of Thomas, and breathes new life into writings once thought heretical. As she arrives at an ever-deeper conviction in her own faith, Pagels reveals how faith allows for a diversity of interpretations, and that the “rogue” voices of Christianity encourage and sustain “the recognition of the light within us all.”

    The Gnostic Gospels

    The Gnostic Gospels
    A provocative study of the gnostic gospels and the world of early Christianity as revealed through the Nag Hammadi texts.

    Reading Judas

    Reading Judas
    The Gospel of Judas and the Shaping of...
    Unabridged CDs - 6 CDs, 8 hours Two leading, bestselling experts on the Gnostic Gospels weigh in on the meaning of the controversial newly discovered Gospel of Judas.

    Revelations

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    Visions, Prophecy, and Politics in the Book of...
    Elaine Pagels explores the surprising history of the most controversial book of the Bible. In the waning days of the Roman Empire, militant Jews in Jerusalem had waged an all-out war against Rome’s occupation of Judea, and their defeat resulted in the desecration of the Great Temple in Jerusalem. In the aftermath of that war, John of Patmos, a Jewish prophet and follower of Jesus, wrote the Book of Revelation, prophesying God’s judgment on the pagan empire that devastated and dominated his people. Soon after, Christians fearing arrest and execution championed John’s prophecies as offering hope for deliverance from evil. Others seized on the Book of Revelation as a weapon against heretics and infidels of all kinds.      Even after John’s prophecies seemed disproven—instead of being destroyed, Rome became a Christian empire—those who loved John’s visions refused to discard them and instead reinterpreted them—as Christians have done for two thousand years. Brilliantly weaving scholarship with a deep understanding of the human needs to which religion speaks, Pagels has written what may be the masterwork in her unique career.

Favorite QuotesFROM THIS BOOK
  • In 1988, when my husband of twenty years died in a hiking accident, I became aware that, like many people who grieve, I was living in the presence of an invisible being—living, that is,...

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  • In 66 C.E., a rebellion against Rome broke out among the Jews of Palestine. (Chapter I)

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  • Concluding this book, I hope this research may illuminate for others, as it has for me, the struggle within Christian tradition between the profoundly human view that "otherness" is evil...

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