Elaine Pagels, Princeton professor and author of The Gnostic Gospels, Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas, and Reading Judas, among others, is generally acknowledged by colleagues and readers as knowing more about Christian theological history than almost anyone else. Her lecture topic is the Book of Revelation, but her knowledge of Christian history is encyclopedic-atheists, casual readers, and expert theologians will all have something to learn from her insights. She’ll be in Santa Barbara to lecture on the Book of Revelation on Sunday, March 16, at 3 p.m. at the Victoria Hall, located at 33 East Victoria Street.

1) Fire and Brimstone: If that’s all you’ve ever thought there was to the Book of Revelation, you must check out Pagels’s lecture-she knows all there is to know about who wrote the book, where, why, and what the real purpose of the literature was at the time it was written. Both biblical scholars and laymen continue to be fascinated with the book, both because of its dramatic diction and its historical relevance. Prophecies of doom and destruction are only the tip of the iceberg.

2) Alternate Revelations: Pagels will also lecture on other versions of the Book of Revelation, both Christian and Jewish, which were written concurrently with the Book that’s actually included the Bible. Why, she asks, were these left out of the Bible, when the version we know has been handed down so carefully as a part of the Gospel? She’ll also discuss how the Bible was compiled into its current standard version, and the effects of recent scholarly studies on our understanding of the history involved. And some of that recent scholarship is her own-her book, The Gnostic Gospels, was a bestselling exploration of a selection of lost Christian manuscripts that were recently found in Egypt and dubbed the “Nag Hammadi Library.”

3) History Meets Theology: An expert on both the religious and historical aspects of Biblical studies, Pagels is uniquely qualified to answer questions on these topics. She’s researched texts in Greek, Latin, German, Hebrew, French, Italian, and even Coptic-and can translate her findings into a clear and concise summation of one of the world’s most controversial (and long-lasting) historical mysteries.


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