Sunday, June 15, 2014

Elaine Pagels

Elaine Pagels earned a B.A. in history and an M.A. in classical studies at Stanford, and holds a Ph.D. from Harvard University. She is the author of Adam, Eve, and the Serpent; The Origin of Satan; The Gnostic Gospels, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award and National Book Award; and Revelations: Visions, Prophecy, and Politics in the Book of Revelation.

From her Q & A with Randy Dotinga at the Christian Science Monitor:

Q: Contrary to what people may assume, Satan is barely a presence in the Old Testament. What is he like?

A: There about five Old Testament stories in which Satan is kind of an incidental character. In the Book of Zechariah, he's the devil's advocate, so to speak, for the Lord. In Book of Numbers, he's not even a person. He's an angel.

The Jewish view is that Satan is always under the command of the Lord. Satan is one of his servants, one of his army.

Q: So the Satan of the Old Testament is basically a lackey, a kind of minion?

A: He is. In the book of Job, he can't do anything that the Lord doesn't authorize. He says, 'Let me do this thing,' and the Lord has to say, 'I'll give you this much permission. You can go this far.' He can't go any further.

Satan is not a rival to God at all. He's a servant.

Q: Did the early Jews ever view Satan as evil?

A: The only...[read on]
Learn how Pagels became interested in writing about the Book of Revelation.

Pagels's The Gnostic Gospels is one of Mary Beard's five best books about religious cults in antiquity.

--Marshal Zeringue