Author Elaine Pagels to speak at WFU

Elaine Pagels, author and professor of early Christian history at Princeton University, will present a lecture titled “Beyond Belief” at 7 p.m. Sept. 30 in Wait Chapel. The lecture, which is free and open to the public, is presented as the Wake Forest Divinity School’s 2004 Margaret A. Steelman Lecture in conjunction with the Samuel Robinson Lectureship sponsored by the department of religion.

Pagels is an internationally known scholar of early Christianity. Her books include “Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas,” “The Gnostic Gospels,” “Adam, Eve and the Serpent,” “The Origin of Satan” and “The Origin of Sin.”

“The Gnostic Gospels” was based on her work with the Nag Hammadi scrolls, documents discovered in Egypt in 1945 that include previously lost or unknown sacred writings from the first two or three centuries of the Christian era. First published in 1979, the book sold 400,000 copies and won numerous awards and acclaim, including a National Book Award and a MacArthur Prize Fellowship.

In her most recent book, “Beyond Belief,” Pagels explores issues of contemporary spirituality as she weaves together her religious quest and scholarly work on the Nag Hammadi scrolls. She specifically focuses on the Gospel of Thomas, a text that scholars believe may be older than the four known canonical gospels.

An Episcopalian, Pagels is a graduate of Stanford University and received a doctorate from Harvard University.

The Steelman Lecture Series was founded by Sanford L. Steelman in honor of his wife, Margaret. The series brings prominent lecturers to the Divinity School on subjects relating to Jewish and Christian theology.

The Samuel Robinson Lectureship was initiated in 1963 to help promote free and scholarly exposition of the Christian faith. Named in honor of Samuel Robinson, uncle of Kathleen Mackie, a long-time friend of Wake Forest, the series is funded by a portion of a trust Robinson left the department of religion “to promote Christian principles as set forth in the Bible.”

Fore more information, contact the Divinity School at 336-758-5121 or the religion department at 336-758-4830.

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