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5.16.03
Society and Community:
Elaine Pagels
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Biblical scholar and author Elaine Pagels talked with Bill Moyers about her new book, BEYOND BELIEF: THE SECRET GOSPEL OF THOMAS, which explores the discussion and debate between followers of Jesus illustrated in the gospels of Thomas and John. Thomas, contends Pagels, offered readers a message of spiritual enlightenment. Rather than promoting Jesus as the only light of the world, Thomas taught individuals that 'there is a light within each person, and it lights up the whole universe. If it does not shine, there is darkness.'

Pagels and Moyers take this statement as a starting point for a wide-ranging discussion of the role of faith in 21st-Century America, and the relationship between faith and grief. Learn more about Pagels below, and more about faith in contemporary America.

Facts and Figures: Click to find out where Americans put their faith      

"I think spiritual exploration takes many forms. It often engages many traditions. And some people make fun of that, and say this is convenient, or this is cafeteria-style religion. I think this is simply the kind of exploration we need to do in the 21st century."


Elaine Pagels
Elaine Pagels
Elaine Pagels is the author of numerous articles and five books and is well known for her work in translating the Nag Hammadi Library, translations which contradicted the image of the early Christian Church as a unified movement. Pagels published the results of her scholarship in THE GNOSTIC GOSPELS, which received the National Book Critics Circle Award and The National Book Award and has been published in ten foreign languages. She is also the author of THE GNOSTIC PAUL, ADAM, EVE, AND THE SERPENT, and THE ORIGIN OF SATAN and now, BEYOND BELIEF: THE SECRET GOSPEL OF THOMAS. The recipient of the MacArthur Prize, she has also received awards from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton.

Read more from Elaine Pagels:

  • Elaine Pagels on religious rhetoric and politics
  • Elaine Pagels on the gnostic gospels

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