Harrington Spear Paine Professor of Religion, Princeton University; Author, Why Religion? A Personal Story; Trustee, The Aspen Institute
Elaine Pagels is the Harrington Spear Paine Professor of Religion at Princeton University. A historian of religion, her recent work involves the interaction of politics and social history with religion, exploring cultural origins of Western views on sexuality, on Christian anti-Semitism, and on the pervasiveness of apocalyptic thinking in wartime and contemporary politics. Pagels focused her early research on the 1945 discovery of the “gnostic gospels” in upper Egypt, some of which claim to reveal the secret teaching of Jesus and his disciples. The author of several books on the history of religion, she most recently wrote Why Religion? A Personal Story. Pagels’s many honors include a MacArthur Prize Fellowship.
Big IdeaIf these [religious] traditions weren’t reappropriated, recreated, reinvented, and transformed to deal with the needs and issues of very different generations and people all over the world in different situations, they wouldn’t survive.Elaine Pagels