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Chastity

John Barton

16 March 1989
The Body and Society: Men, Women and Sexual Renunciation in Early Christianity 
by Peter Brown.
Faber, 504 pp., £32.50, February 1989, 0 571 15446 8
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Adam, Eve and the Serpent 
by Elaine Pagels.
Weidenfeld, 189 pp., £14.95, September 1988, 0 297 79326 8
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Heaven: A History 
by Colleen McDannell and Bernhard Lang.
Yale, 410 pp., £16.95, November 1988, 0 300 04346 5
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... than modern archaeologists of human culture. One of the major differences which they identify between ancient and modern ideas of heaven, however, is related to the theme of two more weighty studies, ElainePagels’s Adam, Eve and the Serpent and Peter Brown’s The Body and Society. This theme is human sexuality. Until very recently, almost all Christians assumed without question that this would have ...
17 April 1980
The Gnostic Gospels 
by Elaine Pagels.
Weidenfeld, 182 pp., £7.95, March 1980, 0 297 77709 2
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... no emphasis. The book under review is the first written for the general reader on the significance of the discovery for early Christianity since publication of the texts was completed. Professor Pagels, who has been closely associated with the work on the manuscripts, gives us here a fascinating account, with quotations from the texts, of Gnostic beliefs, of the conflict with the Church authorities ...

Judas’ Gift

Adam Phillips: In Praise of Betrayal

5 January 2012
... what Judas was that the other disciples were not such that he was the chosen one, the only one of the disciples whom Jesus could use to transform himself, or to be transformed by. ‘The betrayer,’ ElainePagels writes in Reading Judas, ‘always intrigues us more than the disciples who remain loyal’; she is intimating, perhaps, that we get a certain kind of pleasure from stories about betrayal that ...

O How Unlike the Father

Frank Kermode: Bad Father, Good Son

15 October 1998
The Alternative Trinity: Gnostic Heresy in Marlowe, Milton and Blake 
by A.D. Nuttall.
Oxford, 282 pp., £40, July 1998, 9780198184621
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... in Egypt, and since then Gnosticism has been intensively and sympathetically studied. The eclipse of this rival form of Christianity by a politically well-organised Church has been much regretted. ElainePagels calls it ‘an impoverishment of Christian tradition’. Nuttall says its defeat ‘is of some interest because in one respect orthodox Christianity seems philosophically more vulnerable than ...

Promises

Mary-Kay Wilmers

10 November 1988
The Faber Book of Seductions 
edited by Jenny Newman.
Faber, 366 pp., £12.95, June 1988, 0 571 15110 8
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Journeys to the Underworld 
by Fiona Pitt-Kethley.
Chatto, 226 pp., £10, October 1988, 9780701132231
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... according to recent scholarship, we owe to the middle age of St Augustine, who was the first to promote the idea of Original Sin on which the Christian interpretation of the Fall is based, or so ElainePagels argues in her study of the ‘politics of paradise’, Adam, Eve and the Serpent. But even St Augustine took sexual desire to be the evidence for the Fall, not its cause or its chief ...

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