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Elaine Pagels
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    (February 13, 1943- )
    Born in Palo Alto, California
    Birth name was Elaine Hiesey
    Head of the religion department at Barnard College (1974-82)
    Harrington Spear Paine Professor of Religion at Princeton (1982- )
    Wrote 'The Gnostic Paul' (1975), 'The Gnostic Gospels' (1979), 'Adam, Eve and the Serpent' (1988), 'The Origin of Satan' (1995) and 'Beyond Belief: The Gospel of Thomas' (2003)
    With Harvard professor Karen King wrote 'Reading Judas: The Gospel of Judas and the Shaping of Christianity' (2007)
    She briefly studied modern dance with Martha Graham before deciding to get a PhD.
    She is a favorite talking head for shows about 'The DaVinci Code,' appearing in 'Secrets of the Code' and 'The Real DaVinci Code.'
    Many of her theories about the early Christian church are well outside of mainstream scholarship.
    The conservative Intercollegiate Studies Institute listed 'The Gnostic Gospels' as one of the 50 Worst Books of the 20th Century.
    She has been lauded for the readability of her writing and her ability to make the early history of Christianity interesting for non-specialists.
    'The Gnostic Gospels' won a National Book Award and a National Book Critics Circle Award.
    She learned Latin, Greek, Hebrew and Coptic to study early religious texts.
    She left an evangelical church as a teen after being told that a close friend who had died in a car crash was eternally damned because he was Jewish.
    She joined the Episcopal Church in response to a spiritual re-awakening following personal tragedy: her six-year-old son died (1987) and her husband was killed in a mountain climbing accident (1988).

Credit: C. Fishel

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