Princeton University professor to lecture on early Christianity
NEW WILMINGTON, Pa. -- Dr. Elaine Pagels, the Harrington Spear Paine professor of religion at Princeton University, will discuss "Gnosticism, Early Christianity, and the Secret Gospels" at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in Orr Auditorium at Westminster College.
"Growing up in a family of scientists, Elaine Pagels was taught that scientific discovery had made religion obsolete and irrelevant," said Dr. Bryan Rennie, associate professor, and Vira L. Heinz, chair of religion at Westminster. "Despite this early training, or perhaps because of it, Pagels is now one of the country's leading scholars of religion."
Pagels gained international acclaim for her best-selling book, "The Gnostic Gospels," an analysis of 52 ancient manuscripts unearthed in Egypt in 1945. The manuscripts, known collectively as the Nag Hammadi Library, include many gospels and other writings previously unknown and demonstrate that the early Christian movement was far more diverse than previously thought. This work earned her the National Book Critics Circle Award and the National Book Award.
Pagels' latest book, "Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas," focuses on religious claims to possessing "the ultimate truth." She contends that as Christianity became increasingly institutionalized, it became more politicized and less pluralistic.
This event is free and open to the public. A book signing will follow the talk.