[Name Redacted]'s Reviews > The Origin of Satan: How Christians Demonized Jews, Pagans and Heretics

The Origin of Satan by Elaine Pagels
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's review
Feb 15, 2011

it was ok
bookshelves: religion, society, history, academia
Read from February 15 to 17, 2011

Too many assumptions, too much guesswork, too many leaps of faith, too much specious reasoning, especially from an author who wishes to be taken seriously.

I have to admit that I'm actually biased against her as a scholar because of her shoddy work on gnosticism -- she writes about it as though it were universally empowering for women and liberating for humans as sexual beings, then ignores the numerous misogynistic depictions of women, the assertions that women cannot enter the Kingdom of God unless they become men, and the widely varying approaches to sexuality within gnosticism (which ranged from orgies to absolute celibacy -- because, after all, "gnosticism" was a category invented at an academic conference in Italy in the 1960s to describe a bunch of totally unrelated sects & religions). But she brings a similar approach to this work, cherry-picking her sources to accord with the conclusions she had reached before doing her research, then ignoring or misrepresenting the evidence which contradicts her thesis. She's definitely a popular author, rather than a rigorous academic. For those looking for the religious studies equivalent of "pulp" -- this is for you! For those looking for something more incisive and insightful -- look elsewhere.
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02/16/2011 page 42
06/17/2016 marked as: read
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Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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Matt Is there anything in particular that you suggest for those of us looking elsewhere?

message 4: by Rod (new)

Rod Thanx - you figured out Pagels perfectly. She's just desperate fodder for liberal Bible haters.

[Name Redacted] She was part of the committee that VOTED on whether things were historical fact or not. How can anyone take her seriously as a scholar?

message 6: by Kira (new)

Kira Ah, confirmation bias, an ugly thing. Sounds like it did Pagels and her book in.

[Name Redacted] Unquestionably.

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