Adam Eve And The Serpent Summary

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In her book Adam, Eve, and the Serpent, Ellen Pagels attempts to study and track the origins of the traditional patterns of gender and sexual relationships found in Christian movement. During the centuries immediately following the life of Christ, the Christian movement formulated and solidified many of the values still prevalent among churches and Christian communities today; while controversies surrounding human sexuality, freedom, and sin still evidence themselves in our modern era, the early church in particular struggled to confront these issues as they transformed from an illegal sect to the accepted religion of the entire Roman Empire. As Christian doctrine and traditions changed with the evolution of Christianity into a wide-scale religion,…show more content…
Pagel dedicates much of the remainder of her book summarizing the various interpretation of Genesis by Gnostics and Orthodox Christians alike, and explaining the political and social ramifications of each interpretation. Whereas the early Christians believed in the idea of free will and self-autonomy through baptism, the emerging fusion of the Roman Empire with the Christian church could not allow the existence of such autonomy. As Chrysostom stated, “[In the Roman Empire] everything is done through fear and constraint; [in the church], through free choice and liberty” (105). What I find particularly interesting is the dilemma that Pagel presents: given the autonomy that the early Christians enjoyed, how could they accept and legitimize the role of a Christian emperor and government who sought to extend their influence from “unruly pagans, to Christians themselves” (107). Augustine’s new theology offered somewhat of a solution to this dichotomy; rather than reading into the Genesis narrative as proof that human beings are free and autonomous, Augustine interprets that all of humanity is corrupted and enslaved to repeatedly sin. This new ideology and interpretation allows the new institution of the Roman Church to validate its own authority. Should the humanity truly be diseased and destined to sin, the Church accepts the role of a spiritual healer and governs humanity because their very nature has been corrupted as a result of Adam’s sin. This doctrine and theory of Adam’s fall justifies – and necessitates – the marriage of the church and

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