McMartin lecture: Stories of Satan: From the Book of Job to the New Testament
This McMartin Memorial Lecture is part of the Faculty of Arts Dean’s Lecture Series, and is open to professors, staff, students and the general public. The Dean’s Lecture Series features the Faculty’s best professors and researchers engaging alumni on key academic topics affecting the world we live in.
Harrington Spear Professor at Princeton University
Elaine Pagels, Harrington Spear Professor at Princeton University, investigates the history of religion. She is best known for her research and publications involving a cache of over 50 ancient Jewish, Greek and Christian texts discovered in Upper Egypt in 1945, including secret gospels that Christian leaders declared heretical and successfully obliterated for nearly two millennia.
After completing her doctorate at Harvard University, Pagels was part of an international team of scholars that edited, translated and published several of these texts. After publishing two monographs and several scholarly articles, she wrote The Gnostic Gospels, which won the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Then, with a MacArthur Prize Fellowship, she joined the faculty at Princeton University, where she now teaches and engages in research. In 2013, she received an honorary degree from Harvard University, and in 2016, the National Medal for the Humanities from then-president Barack Obama.
In addition to writing scholarly articles, Pagels has published books accessible to a wider audience, including Adam, Eve, and the Serpent (Random House, 1988), which explores how various Jewish and Christian readings of the Genesis accounts (c. 50-400 CE) articulate a wide range of attitudes toward sexuality and politics; The Origin of Satan: How Christians Came to Demonize Jews, Pagans, and Heretics (Random House, 1995); Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas (Random House, 2003) and Revelations: Visions, Prophecy, and Politics in the Book of Revelation (Viking Penguin, 2012). Her most recent book, Why Religion? A Personal Story, is a departure from the others, combining autobiographical elements with reflections on the history of religion.