Pagels' book on religion resonates with lay readers

When professor Elaine Pagels sat down to write a book exploring the historical roots of Christianity, she certainly wasn't angling to write a bestseller. So Pagels has watched with astonishment as the book, "Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas," has spent more than three months on The New York Times bestseller list.

"I think it's very exciting that many people are engaging this material," said Pagels, the Harrington Spear Paine Professor of Religion. "I'm struck by how visceral and powerful and emotional many of the responses are, whether they're positive or negative, and that speaks to the central importance of these religious teachings in the lives of millions of people."

Pagels, who has taught at Princeton since 1982, has written several books that bring a fresh perspective to the history of Christianity. Her latest work is an examination of the Gospel of Thomas, written around 100 C.E., which was discovered buried in a jar in Egypt in 1945 with other early Christian writings. Church leaders had declared the texts heretical and banned them.

Read the full story in the Weekly Bulletin.

Contact: Lauren Robinson-Brown (609) 258-3601